Behind the Scenes with the OAE

Not. All. Orchestras. Are. The Same.

OAE with their instruments.

Join players from the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment (OAE) at Saffron Hall on Saturday 18 March from 5pm an exclusive behind-the-scenes pre-show experience! If you're aged 11-21 then you're invited - and you don't need to be studying music or playing an instrument to come. Enjoy an afternoon of getting to know the musicians from the OAE and hearing them rehearse, then join us in the evening for a concert performed by OAE players and singers of a piece by Bach called the B Minor Mass.

How to take part

Please fill in our online form to register your interest. Once we receive your booking request a member of the Saffron Hall team will be in touch to confirm your spaces. We aim to reply within two working days.

You can find plenty more information about the afternoon of activities, the OAE and period instruments below. If you have any questions, or would like to supply information required by the form over the phone please get in touch with our learning coordinator Katie - or 01799 588545.

Schedule for 18 March

Open rehearsal & demos - 5pm-6.30pm

A chance to watch the ensemble and singers getting ready for the concert. Conductor Vaclav Luks will wear a headset microphone so you can hear his interactions with the musicians, and you'll get a sneak preview of some of the music from the concert!

After the rehearsal ends, you'll be invited to join the musicians onstage to find out about them and their instruments! Whether you're interested in what it's like to be an orchestral musician, or perhaps you are interested to hear the sound of gut strings on an 18th century violin, whatever your interest this is the perfect opportunity to get up-close and personal with the players.

Concert: B Minor Mass - 7.30pm

All participants from the pre-show session will receive a free ticket for the public evening concert. A friend or family member is welcome to join each participant for a discounted ticket price of £10 (payable at box office on the night). In the concert you'll get to see the outcome of the rehearsal you sat in on during the afternoon and see the singers and the players of the OAE make the music come alive in a hall full of people.

The OAE will be performing a piece by Bach called the B Minor Mass. There will be lots of singing - and although the singing will be in Latin there will be a translation in the programme or you can find one online to follow.

Find out more about the OAE

What's the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment?

In 1986, a group of inquisive 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 parcular era? Too restricting. Perfect a work and then move on? Too lazy. The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment was born.

Since then, the OAE has shocked, changed and mesmerised the music world. Residencies at Acland Burghley School, the Southbank Centre and Glyndebourne haven’t numbed its experimentalist bent. Record deals haven’t ironed out its quirks. Period-specific instruments have become just one element of its quest for authencity.

Today the OAE is cherished more than ever. It still pushes for change, and still stands for excellence, diversity and exploration. More than thirty years on, there’s still no orchestra in the world quite like it.

"Period instruments" - what? why? how?

The first thing to know about the OAE is that they play music on instruments (or replicas) from the time the music was written.

When they play Bach, they play on instruments and use techniques that would have been familiar to Bach himself in the early 18th century (that's the 1700s).

Then when they play Brahms, they change their instruments to those from Brahms’ time in the mid-19th century (the 1800s). This gets you closer to the experience you would have had at the time the music was written.

There are some quite radical differences between historic instruments and modern ones. For example, strings are made of sheep gut rather than metal. And wind instruments often don’t have valves as their modern counterparts do.

Evolution of the bow

The Sackbut

Strings made of what?!

Book your space below!