Tuesday 13 November 2018

The orchestra that talks back!

OAE logo
Whilst everyone in the arts talks about the problems with the present concert format, in fact there has been very little change. True, there are a whole variety of performance strands which take music out of concert halls, giving the format something of a shake up, though too often this can feel like little more than putting the audience on bean bags and playing them the same music but with distracting background noise.

But if you go to a standard concert hall, then the chances are that you will hear a standard concert. The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment (OAE), though, have designs on this and at a recent pair of concerts introduced changes with a view to making the standard concert format more friendly.

So OAE performers and conductors will be coming to the front of the stage to give informal introductions to the music being played. At Saturday and Sunday's concerts (at the Anvil, Basingstoke on 10/11 and the Royal Festival Hall on 11/11) it was conductor Marin Alsop who introduced the music, Brahms' A German Requiem [you can here the concert on the BBC Sounds website].

The OAE already has its casual strand, The Night Shift (next one on 27 November at Camden Assembly) which takes place non-traditional venues, and they have also introduced Bach, the Universe and Everything on Sunday mornings at Kings Place where a Bach cantata is combined with a science lecture in an informal setting (next one Sunday 25 November)

But this new move is an attempt to bring some of that casual element and informality into the concert hall by way of having a sort of spoken programme notes (I know from personal experience that audience enjoy this type of thing, having given spoken introductions to choral concerts that I participate in). The other big advantage of this is that it makes the conductors and players seem a bit more human.

Of course, it is not a new idea, but it is an interesting development to introduce it across a whole range of concerts.

Full details from the OAE's website.

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