Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment
Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment © Eric RichmondOn Tour 05.09.18-10.09.18

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Orchestra

Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment

Just over three decades ago, a group of inquisitive 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...

Just over three decades ago, a group of inquisitive 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 particular era? Too restricting. Perfect a work and then move on? Too lazy. The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment was born.

 


 

And as this distinctive ensemble playing on period-specific instruments began to get a foothold, it made a promise to itself. It vowed to keep questioning, adapting and inventing as long as it lived. Those original instruments became just one element of its quest for authenticity. Baroque and Classical music became just one strand of its repertoire. Every time the musical establishment thought it had a handle on what the OAE was all about, the ensemble pulled out another shocker: a Symphonie Fantastique here, some conductor-less Bach there. All the while, the Orchestra’s players called the shots.

 

At first it felt like a minor miracle. Ideas and talent were plentiful; money wasn’t. Somehow, the OAE survived to a year. Then to two. Then to five. It began to make benchmark recordings and attract the finest conductors. It became the toast of the European touring circuit. It bagged distinguished residencies at the Southbank Centre and Glyndebourne Festival Opera. It began, before long, to thrive.

 

And then came the real challenge. The ensemble’s musicians were branded eccentric idealists, and that they were determined to remain. In the face of the music industry’s big guns, the OAE kept its head. It got organised but remained experimentalist. It sustained its founding drive but welcomed new talent. It kept on exploring performance formats, rehearsal approaches and musical techniques. It searched for the right repertoire, instruments and approaches with even greater resolve. It kept true to its founding vow.

 

In some small way, the OAE changed the classical music world too. It challenged those distinguished partner organisations and brought the very best from them, too. Symphony and opera orchestras began to ask it for advice. Existing period instrument groups started to vary their conductors and repertoire. New ones popped up all over Europe and America.

 

And so the story continues, with ever more momentum and vision. The OAE’s series of nocturnal Night Shift performance have redefined concert parameters. Its new home at London’s Kings Place has fostered further diversity of planning and music-making. Great performances now become recordings on the Orchestra’s in-house CD label. The ensemble has formed the bedrock for some of Glyndebourne’s most ground-breaking recent productions. It travels as much abroad as to the UK regions: New York and Amsterdam court it, Birmingham and Bristol cherish it.

 

Remarkable people are behind it. Simon Rattle, the young conductor in whom the OAE placed so much of its initial trust, still cleaves to the ensemble. Iván Fischer, the visionary who punted some of his most individual musical ideas on the young orchestra, continues to challenge it. Mark Elder still mines for luminosity, shade and line. Vladimir Jurowski, the podium technician with an insatiable appetite for creative renewal, has drawn from it some of the most revelatory noises of recent years. And, most recently, it’s been a laboratory for John Butt’s most exciting Bach experiments.” All five of them share the title Principal Artist.

Of the instrumentalists, many remain from those brave first days; many have come since. All seem as eager and hungry as ever. They’re offered ever greater respect, but continue only to question themselves. Because still, they pride themselves on sitting ever so slightly outside the box. They wouldn’t want it any other way. 

 

SEASON 2017/2018

More about the Orchestra

Conductor

©Lukas Beck

Adam Fischer

The Hungarian-born Adam Fischer originates from Budapest and began studying conducting and composition at the Liszt Ferenc Academy of his home town. He studied further with the legendary Hans Swarowsky in Vienna. He started his career as Kapellmeister at the...

The Hungarian-born Adam Fischer originates from Budapest and began studying conducting and composition at the Liszt Ferenc Academy of his home town. He studied further with the legendary Hans Swarowsky in Vienna.


He started his career as Kapellmeister at the opera companies in Helsinki, Karlsruhe and the Bavarian State Oper in Munich. He was General Music Director in Freiburg, Kassel, at the National Theatre of Mannheim and from 2007-2010 at the Hungarian State Opera in Budapest.

Adam Fischer is Artistic Director and founder of the annual Wagner Festival in Budapest.

Adam Fischer regularly conducts at all the major opera houses and the leading festivals in Europe and the USA. His collaboration with the Wiener Staatsoper began in 1973, and he has since conducted a large number of performances and highly successful premières there. In 1984 he made his début at the Paris Opera with Der Rosenkavalier and in 1986 at La Scala in Milan with The Magic Flute. In 1989 he made his début at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden with Die Fledermaus and in 1994 at the Metropolitan Opera in New York with Otello. In 2001 he gave his first performances of Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen at Bayreuth. These were met with outstanding international media acclaim and culminated in him being named „Conductor of the Year” by the German periodical “Opernwelt”.

On the concert stage Adam Fischer is a welcome guest of many of the world’s most prestigious orchestras, such as the Vienna Philharmonic, Vienna Symphony, Munich Philharmonic, Tonhalle Zurich, London Philharmonic, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Chicago Symphony, Boston Symphony, Tokyo Metropolitan and NHK Symphony Orchestra as well as the Orchestre de Paris and the Hungarian Radio Symphony Orchestra.

As from 2015 Adam Fischer is Principal Conductor of the Düsseldorfer Symphoniker and in the coming seasons will present with the orchestra a complete Mahler cycle, which will also be recorded on CD. Furthermore, he is Artistic Advisor of the Tonhalle.

He is also Principal Conductor of the Danish Chamber Orchestra in Copenhagen, with which he has recorded all “seria operas” and all symphonies by Mozart. This recording won an International Classical Music Award in 2015. Adam Fischer and the orchestra now work on a complete Beethoven cycle.

In 1987 Adam Fischer was co-founder of the Haydn Festival Eisenstadt in Austria and founded the Austro-Hungarian Haydn Orchestra, with which he continues to work as an Honorary Conductor.

Apart from concert and opera performances at the Haydn Festival Eisenstadt, they have recorded the complete symphonies of Joseph Haydn in the Haydn Hall of the Esterházy Palace in Eisenstadt. This complete cycle was recorded by Nimbus Records and won two Echo Klassic Awards.

Adam Fischer is an Honorary Member of the Musikverein für Steiermark in Graz.

He was named a Knight of the Order of Dannebrog by the Queen of Danmark and was awarded the honorary title of Professor by the Austrian President.

SEASON 2016/2017

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