Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment
Just over two decades ago, a group of inquisitive London musicians took a long hard look at that curious institution we call the Orchestra, and decided to start again from scratch. They began by throwing out the rulebook. Put a single conductor in charge? No way. Specialise in repertoire of a particular era? Too restricting. Perfect a work and then move on? Too lazy. The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment was born.
And as it began to get a foothold, the OAE made a promise to itself. It vowed to keep questioning, adapting and inventing as long as it lived. Residences at the Southbank Centre and Glyndebourne Festival Opera didn’t numb its experimentalist bent. A major record deal didn’t iron out its quirks. Instead, the OAE examined musical notes and instruments with ever more freedom and resolve.
That creative thirst remains unquenched. Informal night-time performances are redefining concert formats. Searching approaches to varied repertoires see the OAE involved in exceptional musical and non-musical collaborations. New generations of exploratory musicians are encouraged into its ranks. It enjoys a truly international reputation. New York and Amsterdam court it; Birmingham and Bristol cherish it.
In its 24th season, the OAE is part of our musical furniture. It moved recently to beautiful new headquarters. It has even graced three legendary conductors – Rattle, Jurowski and Fischer – with the joint title of Principal Artist. But don’t ever think the ensemble has lost sight of its founding vow. Not all orchestras are the same. And there’s nothing quite like this one.