Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment Makes Rare U.S. Visit Nov. 22 at Oberlin

November 5, 2019
Erich Burnett
musicians from Britain's Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment.
Photo credit: Courtesy of OAE

British period ensemble flouts orchestra conventions, embraces the road for two stateside performances.

Britain’s Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment didn’t get this far by playing things by the book.

More than 30 years ago, the period ensemble arose out of a shared vision among its members that there must be a more fulfilling way to make music together. And so they created their orchestra as a democracy, so that each member would have a voice in their musical direction rather than submit to the will of a single director.

They agreed that artistic expression should trump fiscal expectation. And they insisted that extraordinary music be celebrated with the focus and passion it deserves.

They took up the acronym ’’OAE’’ and they took up the mantra Not all orchestras are the same.

"We're not trying to recreate the past,” says double bassist Cecelia Bruggemeyer. “We're trying to create something that's exciting now, using historic information."

And now, some 34 years into its existence, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment is hitting the road to make its point. This month, the resident artists of London’s Southbank Centre will step away from their U.K. homeland and into an exclusive two-engagement tour of the United States: one night in New York City’s Lincoln Center, followed by a performance in Oberlin’s Finney Chapel on Friday, November 22.

OAE will be joined by acclaimed countertenor Iestyn Davies in a performance that showcases three masterpieces of the Italian Baroque: Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater, Vivaldi’s Gloria, and Albinoni’s Oboe Concerto No. 2, featuring soloist Katharina Spreckelsen, one of the leading Baroque oboists of her generation.

The performance begins at 7:30 p.m.

RESERVE YOUR SEATS TODAY: Tickets for the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment at Oberlin are $35 ($30 for Oberlin faculty/staff/alumni, seniors, and members of the military), with $10 tickets available for all students. Get yours by calling 800-371-0178 or visit oberlin.edu/artsguide.

DON’T MISS THE NIGHT SHIFT: Because even unstuffy orchestras need to unwind, members of OAE will host a free, informal hangout and performance—The Night Shift, in their parlance—immediately after the show. It happens at the intimate Birenbaum club, on the lower level of the Hotel at Oberlin . Night Shift capacity is limited, and guests will be admitted on a first-come, first-served basis.

Artist Recitals at Oberlin continue in December with the return to campus of opera legend Marilyn Horne, who will lead her annual public master class with standout conservatory singers on Wednesday, December 4.

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