We reported on the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment’s (OAE) pub gig in King’s Cross last month. The event was such a success that the orchestra is planning a London-wide pub tour, but this time they need a little help along the way.
The pub concerts – taking small-scale classical music programmes and presenting them in boozers, part of a London-wide trend for informal classical fare – is part of the orchestra’s wider Night Shift project. This regular programme of informal concerts has won plaudits for its innovative approach and genuinely wide following.
In recognition of its success with the Night Shift, the OAE has just received new funding from the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation. William Norris, the OAE’s Communications Director explains all: “I think the important thing for us to state here, as people are always surprised by it, is that concerts, and Night Shifts in particular, lose money. Obviously we want to keep ticket prices as low as possible, but this also means that ticket income doesn’t cover our costs – such as musicians fees, venue hire etc. – which is why we need support from someone like the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation.”
With that in mind, the team want to raise extra cash to make the pub tour idea work. They’re half way through a crowd-funding campaign (details here) and are hopeful it will deliver the goods. “This was a bit of a gamble... but we’ve made really good progress in the last week and are over half way there now,” says Norris. “I’d say we’re pretty confident [that we’ll reach our target]. That said, we DO need people to contribute to make it happen, and every fiver counts!”
If the appeal hits its target with a further £575 raised, the OAE will embark on a five-date tour of London pubs. How are these gigs different to usual Night Shift concerts? “It was a lot hotter and sweatier than usual,” says Norris of the last event. “Although (in a regular Night Shift) we do try and get rid of some of the formalities of the concert hall, you can’t get away from the fact that the orchestra is up there on stage, whereas this had much more of a ‘all in this together’ feel, with the audience literally about a foot away from the performers.”
As for the eventual venues, it’s very much up for grabs. Norris & co are aiming to “cover all the points of the compass – so a venue in each of north, south, east, west and central London.” They’re looking for pubs that can handle 150 to 200 people and are used to hosting gigs of some sort. “If anyone has some good ideas we’d love to hear from them – via Facebook, Twitter or email,” says Norris.
Image: the OAE in the pub, credit Joe Plommer.