International Focus: Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment


After two months, we are back with another International Focus piece ~!  Unlike our usual posts, this piece is prepared by our current youngest intern, Kait-Lin from Henry Park Primary School (: ! 

A resident orchestra at Southbank Centre, London, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment (OAE) associates itself with the Glyndebourne Festival Opera and had its headquarters at Kings Place, London from 2008.

OAE differentiates itself through its instruments ~ boasting the use of British period instruments instead of the now more commonly-seen modern instruments.  These musical instruments are made the same way they were hundreds of years ago, and through them ~ OAE wishes for music to sound just like it used to when it was first composed.

Another unique characteristic of OAE is its lack of a single conductor-in-charge.  OAE was founded in 1986 by a group of idealistic period instrument players who were determined to be free from their all-powerful music director.  Not only do they feature different Principal Artists, players of OAE also actively guide the artistic direction of the orchestra, going beyond mere performing.

OAE holds recurring seasons at Southbank Centre where exhibits, classical music, gigs and literature performances are offered ~ performing around 10 concerts yearly at the Centre, across its different venues such as the Queen Elizabeth Hall and the Royal Festival Hall.

In May 2006, the orchestra held a series of informal late night concerts named The Night Shift, which was nominated for a Royal Philharmonic Society (RPS) Award for audience development.  In the following year, they also clinched the RPS Ensemble Award ~!

With the pandemic standing in the way of LIVE performances, OAE turned to technology to continue sharing their love for music.

Sea Voyages and Salvation is a digital film by OAE, featuring Baroque favourites directed by Roderick Williams.  Premiered on 8 June this year, all members of the public can rent this film at the price of 7 pounds to view it !  Beyond this piece, there are many other videos and films available for rent on the OAE website, and prices range from 4 to 15 pounds each.

Keen audiences can also sign up for an annual subscription to OAE Player for an all-access annual pass to OAE’s videos and films at a flat rate of 99 pounds.  OAE Player features a wide collection of LIVE performances, interviews with artists, and even masterclasses by internationally acclaimed musicians such as Mark Padmore.

OAE’s offices are currently held in Acland Burghley School.  Beyond using the space at Acland Burghley School for their administrative office, library and recording studio, OAE’s musicians also use the school’s grade II listed assembly hall for workshops, rehearsals and small performances.  This arrangement also allows students of Acland Burghley to listen in on rehearsals and collaborate on artistic projects with the creatives in OAE.

Evidently, collaborating with and nurturing young musicians is a significant area of focus for OAE.  In 2002, the orchestra established the Ann and Peter Law OAE experience for young players, an apprenticeship scheme specially targeted at young period instrumentalists.  Through direct mentoring with OAE musicians, joining in orchestral rehearsals alongside OAE’s roster of guest conductors, and even performing with the orchestra during LIVE concerts, aspiring young musicians can look forward to a fulfilling and eye-opening experience !

More than five years ago, OAE also reached out to various care homes in their community, bringing students from Swiss Cottage School, Frank Barnes School for Deaf Children, Gospel Oak Primary School and more, together to explore the music of Henry Purcell and encourage creation of their own pieces in the form of melodies and rhythmic patterns.  The project later grew significantly – with the works of all the students and other youth orchestras, being fitted into a musical machine, creating a featured piece at the Camden Music Festival !

Like OAE, Chamber Music and Arts Singapore has also been consistently reaching out to less fortunate communities around us, in particular, children & youths living within challenging circumstances.

Through our creative virtual sphere The Glasshouse ~ we hope to bring quality chamber music and chamber arts to more children, youths and their families, so that they too can enjoy music and arts from the comfort of their homes, and utilise our programmes for personal inner development. 

To find out more about how The Glasshouse connects with and engages these children & youths, do head over to our feature post on our beneficiaries HERE ~!

We hope you have enjoyed our feature on OAE ~!

Do keep a lookout for our next Spotlight post coming very soon ! (: