Book Review: Spirit of the Orchestra

Written by: Alan Pickering

Spirit of the Orchestra

Helen Wallace

ISBN 0-9554024-0-9

ISBN 978-0-9554024-0-1

£10.00

Published by The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment

4th Floor, 9 Irving Street, London, WC2H 7AH

Telephone: 020 7321 6630

Facsimile: 020 7930 8686

E-mail: info@oae.co.uk


Helen Wallace has penned a most excellent book chronicling the conception, labour, birth, growth and potential future of The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment.

It is quite a short book but it covers the material well, introducing anecdotes from luminaries closely associated with the OAE (including Mark Elder, Iván Fischer, Charles Mackerras, Roger Norrington and Simon Rattle) and highlighting key phases in the orchestra’s development, adding commentary from orchestra-members where this adds value. There are also numerous photographs.

The result is an uplifting tale, full of frankness, passion and humour which, on the one hand, suggests the sheer impossibility of creating an orchestra ‘for the musicians’ and then destroys that notion by showing that achieving the impossible is, in fact, possible. Of course it is not easy and the trials and tribulations and all examined in detail but the underlying theme is that with commitment, hard work and the odd sacrifice, dreams can come true. As such this very recommendable book should be required reading in our schools – for the story is an inspiring one.

If I played an instrument then the OAE is where I would feel most at home. May its future be as varied and successful as its past.

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