The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment in musical partnership across York

A new musical partnership hits the right note for children across York

The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment is a band of rebellious musicians who are definitely too cool for school. So why have they been spending so much time working with York schoolchildren?

It all began a little over two decades ago, when a group of London musicians took a good look at the traditional orchestra and decided to start again from scratch. They threw out the rulebook. Put a single conductor in charge? No way. Specialise in repertoire of a particular era? Too restricting. Perfect a work and then move on? Too lazy.

Since then, the OAE has enjoyed residencies at the Southbank Centre and Glyndebourne and has signed a string of record deals.

And now, in another pleasing career twist, it has joined forces with the National Centre for Early Music in York and the city’s university on an ambitious project for young people, Anthem for a Child, as part of a national programme of concerts and events.

The partnership has so far provided workshops and coaching days for children in schools in Bootham, Dringhouses, Dunnington and Heworth, for York’s youth early music ensemble, the Minster Minstrels and University of York students.

The primary school project will culminate in a concert at 1.30pm on March 27th (for participating schools only) in the Sir Jack Lyons Concert Hall at the university, followed at 6.30pm by a second performance by the OAE featuring the University of York Baroque Ensemble and Chamber Choir.

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The concert will open with a series of fanfares and end with a specially commissioned piece by James Redwood, My Cry, a song celebrating the power of individual singers and their combined power as a choir. Tickets are available now from

The Minster Minstrels will also have the opportunity of a workshop day with OAE players on May 12th. Afterwards they will take part in a concert in London on June 29th, where they will perform by themselves and in a massed band with the OAE and secondary school groups from all over the country.

Delma Tomlin, director of the National Centre for Early Music, said: ‘We are delighted to be working with the exceptional and inspiring forces of the OAE on a project which deftly spans three separate age groups. It will be thrilling to see the work develop and follow the Minster Minstrels to London to represent our region at the final concert in June.’



The print version of this article appeared in the March 2012  issue of Yorkshire Life 

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