Paul Guest's Musical Notes | The OAE: An alcoholically driven education programme?

Ironically, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment is probably the most up to date orchestra in London. Known for their historically informed performances of early composers of the baroque and classical periods, they recently performed their second ‘Night shift’ of the season, this time in the Queen Elizabeth Hall. The programme: Weber and Mozart. […]

New in Ceasefire, Paul Guest's Musical Notes - Posted on Saturday, October 15, 2011 14:57 - 0 Comments

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Ironically, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment is probably the most up to date orchestra in London. Known for their historically informed performances of early composers of the baroque and classical periods, they recently performed their second ‘Night shift’ of the season, this time in the Queen Elizabeth Hall.

The programme: Weber and Mozart. The dramatic overture to Weber’s opera Der Freischutz was conducted by Charles Hazlewood; Mozart’s Piano Concerto No.23 was directed and played by Robert Levin.

Shortly after the concert ended I tweeted:

“#thenightshift is not for people like me instead it is an alcoholically driven education programme for curious people, which I highly recommend”

Naturally I think this the ultimate description of the Night Shift venture. The idea is that the orchestra present a series of “relaxed late-night concerts” where you are free to exit and enter when you please to get drinks, go to the toilet, go for a smoke, whatever you like- I’m a snob, by “is not for people like me” I mean that I am educated in music, and heard none of the perfection that I would demand as a critic of the 7:30pm slot.

I know I sound worse; the height of pretentiousness etc. And yet, as remarked recently, the OAE are in danger of splitting their audience in half, and this seemed clear this evening: the classical music fan and the curious man.

Oddly ‘the Night Shift’ worked much better in the pub, which was the previous setting for the venture. There was a much more relaxed atmosphere, almost unplugged, with a nervous yet humorously uncomfortable Jon Jacobs presenting three musicians from the OAE, while we sat on the floor and drank copious amounts of wine. Unfortunately, though, the more you drink, the better it gets- But that is not to say it works.

I hated it. Of course, my dissatisfaction is another person’s enlightenment and I thoroughly recommend a trip to those curious enough about the ways of classical music.

Just a warning: The OAE is NOT the same after wine (I’ll leave you to decide what it is I exactly mean).

Next event to be confirmed, check out www.oae.co.uk/thenightshift.

Paul Guest, Ceasefire's Classical Music and Opera critic, is a writer, critic, author and curator.

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