Classical musicians to break with tradition and speak to the audience

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USA NEWS

Before the concert begins Maggie Faultless, the OEA’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 its 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.”

Prof Faultless added: “For too many people at a traditional concert the tapping of the conductor’s baton before the music begins and the reverend silence that settles on the venue seems to signal the start of something that is not at all inclusive or for them. We want to break down those barriers and make people feel the music is more accessible.”

For Ms Alsop, who became the first woman to hold a senior position with a major American orchestra when she 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, it is an opportunity to reach out to the audience and make them feel included in the event.

She 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.”

Ms Alsop said that with Brahms’ German Requiem being a work of reconciliation and remembrance it was “very fitting to demonstrate a commitment to reinforcing a society through dialogue, understanding and shared experience” on Armistice Day.

Previous initiatives by the OAE have included its ‘rules-free’ Night Shift series, during which it has performed in pubs, clubs and alternative venues.

Last year it began a new series at Kings Place in London, called Bach the Universe and Everything, combining music with a talk from a scientist, to encourage audience participation.

The latest initiative is likely to be welcomed by many fans. A survey of the OAE’s Southbank Centre audience in 2013 found that 64 per cent would enjoy a short introduction to each half of the concert by a musician or artist.

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