Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment
The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment is recognised as one of the world's foremost period instrument ensembles. Formed in 1986 as a self-governing orchestra, the OAE has always maintained a player-led approach to artistic planning and programming, working with a range of distinguished guest conductors and in 1992, Sir Simon Rattle and Frans Brüggen were appointed Principal Guest Conductors. In 1997 the work of the London Classical Players was absorbed by the OAE, and Sir Roger Norrington joined the roster of conductors. The Orchestra, as an Associate of the Royal Festival Hall, gratefully acknowledges the financial support that SBC gives the Orchestra through its association with the Hall.
In addition to its relationship with the Royal Festival Hall, the Orchestra has been resident at St George's, Bristol since 1995 and enjoys regular collaborations with Symphony Hall in Birmingham, Cité de la Musique in Paris and the Lincoln Center in New York. Other regular appearances include Glyndebourne, where the OAE becomes "Associate Orchestra" from 2002, the BBC Proms and other major festivals in the UK and abroad. The OAE's commitment to combining period authenticity with contemporary values has engendered numerous memorable performances. These include 19th century operas in concert with Mark Elder, a major Mozart series at the South Bank Centre devised by Sir William Glock, a range of classical repertoire with Sir Simon Rattle and performances of baroque music directed by members of the Orchestra. An important feature of the Orchestra's work is the performance of music not usually heard on period instruments, a recent example being a Tchaikovsky weekend devised and conducted by Sir Roger Norrington, who will also lead a major project exploring the music of Mahler and Bruckner in 2001.
Highlights of the Orchestra's 1999/2000 season included a Beethoven cycle in London and Birmingham featuring five different conductors and concluding with a televised performance of the Ninth Symphony conducted by Sir Simon Rattle. The Beethoven cycle, incorporating 21 concerts across the UK and abroad, was sponsored by Jupiter Unit Trust Managers. The 2000/2001 season, which opens in October, includes performances by Andreas Scholl, Sir Simon Rattle, Anne Sofie von Otter, John Tomlinson and Thomas Zehetmair. The OAE performs regularly overseas, and will embark on its third major European tour with Sir Simon Rattle in November 2000 with a programme of works by Berlioz. Opera performances abroad have included Rameau's Les Boréades as part of the Salzburg Festival in 1999, and performances of Rodelinda and Fidelio are planned for the Châtelet in Paris in 2002. The Orchestra's extensive discography includes recordings for all the major record companies. Recent CDs include recital discs with David Daniels and Andreas Scholl and Blow's 'Venus & Adonis' conducted by René Jacobs and future releases will feature Thomas Hampson singing a selection of Verdi arias and members of the Orchestra playing concertos by Vivaldi.
The Orchestra has also developed an extensive education programme, working with 20 primary schools across the country as well as generating projects in music colleges and universities. In October, the OAE and the National Portrait Gallery combine for a major project, The Art of Water Music, supported by Glaxo Wellcome. This will involve local schools in a music and art- based project, themed around the muscial Sharp Family Portrait which hangs in the Gallery, depicting the family with musical instruments.
Relying significantly on private funding, the Orchestra gratefully acknowledges the support of Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette, Jupiter Unit Trust Managers and Glaxo Wellcome. They have won an award from Arts & Business for their support of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. Arts & Business is funded by the Arts Council of England and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.