”Britain’s indisputably best period instrument ensemble”

Get to know the OAE

The OAE plays music on historical instruments (or replicas) from the time the music was written. They are often quite different from the instruments used in modern orchestras today. In this playlist, OAE musicians show us how these period instruments are played.

Meet the Orchestra of The Age of Enlightenment

In 1986, a group of inquisitive London musicians took a long hard look at that curious institution we call the Orchestra, and decided to start again from scratch. They began by throwing out the rulebook. Put a single conductor in charge? No way. Specialize in the repertoire of a particular era? Too restricting. Perfect a work and then move on? Too lazy. The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment was born.

Since then, the OAE has shocked, changed and mesmerized the music world. Residencies at Acland Burghley School, the Southbank Centre and Glyndebourne haven’t numbed its experimentalist bent. Neither have record deals ironed out its quirks. Period-specific instruments have become just one element of its quest for authenticity.

Today the OAE is cherished more than ever. It still pushes for change, and still stands for excellence, diversity and exploration. More than thirty years on, there’s still no orchestra in the world quite like it.

Questioning. Challenging. Trailblazing
Discover the full Orchestra of The Age of Enlightenment Collection

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More from The Orchestra of The Age of Enlightenment

Principle Artists

Mark Elder, Principal Artist at the OAE poses sitting in a chair leaning over his right knee and looking at the camera dressed in a casual cardigan trousers and trainers

Sir Mark Elder

Principal Artist Artist Bio
John Butt, Principal Artist at the OAE poses looking at the camera

John Butt

Principal Artist Artist Bio
Conductor Vladmir Jurowski poses dressed in an all black suit looking to the right of the camera

Vladimir Jurowski

Principal Artist Artist Bio
Conductor Adam Fischer stands holding a baton in his right hand wearing all black

Adam Fischer

Principal Artist Artist Bio
Conductor Sir Simon Rattle stands in rehearsal leading an orchestra dressed in a blue button up shirt

Sir Simon Rattle

Principal Artist Artist Bio
Conductor Ivan Fischer's headshot in a slight sepia tone

Iván Fischer

Principal Artist Artist Bio
Sir Andras Schiff plays a piano forte on stage in front of an orchestra

Sir András Schiff

Principal Artist Artist Bio
William Christie stands in a darkly lit room wearing a black button up shirt and looking directly at the camera

William Christie

Emeritus Conductor Artist Bio
Sir Roger Norrington stand in rehearsal waving his arms over the orchestra

Sir Roger Norrington

Emeritus Conductor Artist Bio
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Tea with Netty

Tea with Netty is the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment’s podcast hosted by viola player Annette Isserlis (Netty). Over a cuppa (or something a little stronger…), Netty chats with a variety of conductors, players and other guests as she ‘spills the tea’ on the side of classical music you don’t normally hear.

Available as Apple podcast, Google Podcast, Spotify, Stitcher, iHeart Radio, TuneIn+Alexa

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