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

The Daily Telegraph - - News - By Pa­trick Sawer

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.”

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