It’s Brahms with banter: musicians to chat with audience from the stage
Orchestra to take informal approach in effort to break down etiquette barriers by discussing works played
ROCK fans are used to musicians talking to the audience in between performing hits and classic album tracks.
But it’s a different story in the world of classical music, where players traditionally say nothing and a reverential hush descends on the auditorium when the conductor taps his baton.
All that is about to change with a new approach by the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment (OAE), whose members will soon be breaking their silence to speak to the crowd.
The OAE wants to introduce talking on stage in a radical move towards what it hopes will become “a new, less formal concert hall culture”. In the hope of breaking down centuries-old barriers between orchestra and audience, performers will step up to the front to talk about the piece they are about to play, its history, how the rehearsal process has shaped the finished piece and what it means to them.
The orchestra’s conductors will also introduce themselves and the music. The first concerts to be staged in this way will be a performance of Brahms’ German Requiem, and Vaughan Williams’ Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis, to be conducted by Marin Alsop at Basingstoke Anvil on Saturday and then at the Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre, on Sunday, marking the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day..
Before the concert, Maggie Faultless, the OAE’S lead violin, will introduce the music from the stage. She said: “Not everybody has a programme or wants to read one and so what we’ll say before we play will be significant.
“It will be a case of putting the music into context and explaining why it’s being played in one way and not another and how that has come out of the rehearsal process. It’s about making audiences feel comfortable and at home, and the more at home you feel the more you are likely to get out of the music you are hearing.”
Some conductors do speak from the stage but the OEA is the first UK orchestra to formally announce its musicians are going to do this at its concerts on a regular basis. Alsop, who was appointed musical director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in 2007 and became the first woman to conduct the Last Night of the Proms in 2013, said: “The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment wants people to feel as welcome in the concert hall as they do in any other modern public space, but the formal orchestral etiquette has essentially been the same for the last 200 years.
“This decision by the OAE to give a voice to players and conductors to build up a relationship with their audience will hopefully provide an insight for the audience into what it’s like to perform whilst making the whole experience more personal.”