Schoenberg: Verklärte Nacht

Schoenberg: Verklärte Nacht / Brahms: Andante from Sextet Op18/1
Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment: Night Shift
Baroquestock Summer BBQ weekend special
Heath St Baptist Church, Hampstead. 17 August 2017

This turned out to be a Tale of Two Churches. On my way to Hampstead for the first event of the Baroquestock Summer BBQ weekend at Heath Street Baptist Church in Hamstead, I stopped off at the church of St Sepulchre-without-Newgate in Holborn, known for many years as the Musicians’ Church, and an important venue for rehearsals and concerts for many musicians and choir. There I joined a flashmob drawing attention to the recent decision by the church (now run as a ‘plant’ of the evangelical Holy Trinity Brompton) to stop all rehearsal and concert bookings – an extraordinary decision that has caused a justifiable uproar.

IMG_20170817_194155010_HDR.jpgIn sharp contrast to the situation in, of all places, the Musicians’ Church, Heath Street Baptist Church in Hamstead is one of many London churches that have actively embraced music and musicians, running a regular series of lunchtime concerts as well as occasional musical festivals, the latter recently under the title of Baroquestock in food-related weekend festivals. Their latest Baroquestock weekend includes concerts by Spiritato and Istante Classical, the latter including Haydn’s La Poule Symphony to the accompaniment of BBQ chicken. Their opening event was a performance of Schoenberg’s Verklärte Nacht, to the culinary accompaniment of, you’ve guessed – Schoenbergers!  Continue reading

Monteverdi: The Other Vespers

Monteverdi: The Other Vespers
Choir and Orchestra of the Age of the Enlightenment, Robert Howarth
Kings Place, 15 January 2016

Music by Monteverdi, Grandi, and Cavalli

The 2016 Kings Place ‘Baroque Unwrapped’ season will include some 45 concerts in a variety of formats. Opening the season in grand style were the Choir and Orchestra of the Age of the Enlightenment in a spectacular programme of music from the very start of the Baroque era by Monteverdi, Grandi and Cavalli. “This is not the 1610 Vespers” warned conductor Robert Howarth at the start. Although retaining the structure of a Vespers service, the music was drawn from Monteverdi’s 1640/41 Selva morale e spirituale and the posthumous Messa e salmi of 1650.

The Vespers opened with the traditional Deus and Response, in the jubilant fanfare-like version written by Alessandro Grandi. Continue reading

The OAE Night Shift – Classical Music: minus the rules

Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment
Kati Debretzeni, director & violin
Frances Kelly, harp, Elizabeth Kenny, theorbo
Queen Elizabeth Hall, 12 May 2015

Despite being no spring chicken myself, the audience at most classical music concerts make me feel rather young –  perhaps naively. Not so the OAE’s innovative Night Shift events, specifically aimed at young people and therefore making me feel rather old. Although these events have taken place in pubs and bars, I usually experience them, like this one, as late-night one-hour events repeating part of the earlier evening OAE concert. On this occasion, the OAE included three of the  pieces played in the earlier concert reviewed below (Telemann’s Violin Concerto in Bb and Handel’s Concerto for harp & lute and he Concerto Grosso, Op 6/1), unfortunately omitting Stevie Wishart’s new work which had just been given its world premiere. I would have loved to have heard what the young audience thought of that work.

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The Queen Elizabeth Hall stage lighting was given a sexy twist Continue reading