Monday, 10 January 2011

Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment at Dartington

South West Music School students are joined by six members of
the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment for a concert in Studio 31
Following their wonderful 'Mozart Unwrapped' at Kings  Place in London six members of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment came to Dartington this weekend to provide masterclass training for the talented young musicians of the South West School of Music.
The young players spent two days on campus enjoying the supervision of the very best orchestral musicians and having great fun too.  At the end of it all they gave a public performance of their work.  The audience were not charged for admission and the auditorium of Studio 31 was filled to capacity for the concert.
Anyone who has been to Dartington and explored the campus will know that Studio 31 is on 'Park Place' a very odd 'street' of widely spaced wood-shingled houses leading to the studio.  Despite the unlikely and isolated location several hundred people made there way to Studio 31 to hear the musicians, and they were well rewarded for making the effort.
Young musicians of the future
Alfie (double bass) Annabel (violin)
with OAE Education Manager
Cherry Forbes
Several players had prepared solo pieces, with or without basso continuo.  First there was a Bach Sarabande followed by a Bach Chaconne - very tricky!  A young boy, whose jersey helped us remember that he was called Angus, gave a perfect recital of Bach's two-part invention for harpsichord - which he had seen for the first time the day before.  Double-bassist Alfie played us his own (more baroque) arrangement of the Ellis Violin Sonata with basso continuo provided by - another double bass, all under the expert supervision of seasoned bassist Cecelia Bruggemeyer.  An arrangement of Telemann's Overture for recorder and harpsichord was so thrilling that one little girl in the audience leapt to her feet and began a spontaneous continuo of her own on 'air harpsichord'.
There were also several ensemble pieces involving the younger students and professional musicians as well.  The overture to Corelli's Christmas Concerto was played beautifully, but trumped by the incredible improvisation the students had prepared on Purcell's 'Dido and Aeneas'.  Over a 'cello ground the students, and teachers, sang apocryphal comments they imagined Dido might have made about Aeneas - in perfect counterpoint.  Instruments were added in typical baroque embelishment, including inspired beatboxing by Alfie.
The recital piece was Rachel Stott's modern arrangement 'Resolution' which incorporated elements from Bach's Christmas Oratorio and the Coventry Carol.  This piece was very popular with the audience and most were able to recognise the original music (and not confuse it with 'God Save the Queen'!)  The piece was so well-received that it seemed only natural for players to perform the whole thing again as an encore.
Everyone enjoyed the concert immensely - audience as well as players.  Audience members gave generously to the retiring collection which will help ensure the continued success of the South West Music School and collaborations of this kind.  Special thanks must go to the SWMC CEO and Artistic Director, Lisa Tengale, for co-ordinating the whole event, and to the OAE Education Manager, Cherry Forbes, for bringing the orchestra members to Devon and supervising such a superb event.

Follow the links below for more information:

Events at Dartington     South West Music School     Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment

Don't forget the SWMS Young Artist Showcase, in the Ship Studio this time, on Saturday 27th January.
The Britten Sinfonia will be in the Great Hall for an afternoon concert on Sunday 6th February.
Devon Baroque will be in the Great Hall for an afternoon concert on Sunday 20th February
(after St James Church Exeter 18th February and Oldway Mansion Paignton 19th February).

Devon Baroque

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