Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment

Orchestra of the Age of the Enlightenment perform around a harpsichordist
Zen Grisdale

Get closer to the experience intended by the composers themselves

The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment makes old music new, playing instruments and using techniques from the period the music was written.

It is not an attempt to recreate the past, but to create something that’s exciting now using historic information. 

There are quite some radical differences between historic and modern instruments. For example, they use strings made of sheep gut rather than metal and wind instruments that might be made of different materials or have different mechanics to their modern counterparts. 

In performance, the OAE is a collective that’s about collaboration between brilliant musicians. Since the OAE isn’t led by any one conductor, it gives players the artistic freedom to collectively take on that role. 

The name refers to the common term for the explosion of science, philosophy and culture in Western Europe during the 1600s and 1700s, the Age of Enlightenment. 

It was the time of Isaac Newton and Voltaire, and a quest for liberty. It also found its voice in music as composers sought more freedom in the way they worked and to promote their (often socially subversive) ideas, and the public had greater access to music-making. 

'Britain’s indisputably best period instrument ensemble'

The Independent
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