Listen to our Classical music blog for May Highlights

In this month’s podcast members of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment discuss working with Sir Simon Rattle, and Vladimir Ashkenazy gives his personal perspective on Shostakovich’s Babi Yar Symphony. Plus a member of Spira mirabilis talks about the ensemble’s unique approach to Beethoven’s music.

OAE and Simon Rattle

Sir Simon Rattle has been associated with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment almost since the foundation of the Orchestra, with his first appearance being in 1987, a year after the OAE’s first concert. Today he is one of the OAE’s three Principal Artists and in this video OAE players talk about what makes him such a special conductor to work with.



See Simon Rattle conduct the OAE at Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall on Tuesday 21 June. Get tickets here. 


Soprano Barbara Hannigan looks the part for Ligeti

Versatility can take many forms in the career of an international opera singer – and in the case of Canadian soprano Barbara Hannigan it involves changing from evening dress to PVC and fishnets mid-concert to mark a move from Mozart arias to Ligeti’s tour de force Mysteries of the Macabre. Watch the video here  of her performing with Simon Rattle and the Berlin Phil, and don’t miss her concert with the Britten Sinfonia, at Queen Elizabeth Hall on Tuesday 30 November.

Read on to find out more about what makes Barbara Hannigan tick.

What has been the highlight of your career so far?

Difficult question….I would have to say, looking back, that Ligeti’s Mysteries of the Macabre has given me so much inspiration that it holds the #1 spot.

 Any low points?

Ha ha, if there are highs there must be lows, but I am glad for them, because those moments always led me to a new path and enriched my life in some way.

When are you happiest?

Two answers: in rehearsal, or having dinner with my husband.

What is your earliest musical memory?

Watching Horowitz on Sesame Street.

What was your most embarrassing moment?

Wrong entrances are always a downer….costume malfunctions con be rather distracting…I have a small list….oh wait! Unknowingly planning my wedding during important rehearsal days for an opera!!! That took some juggling…

What is your most treasured possession?

My memory.

What would your super power be?


If you were an animal what would you be?

A nightingale.

What is your most unappealing habit?


What is your favourite book?

Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina.

What is your guiltiest pleasure?


Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?

A great chef.

If you could go back in time, where would you go?

I am happy in the present.

How do you relax away from the concert platform?


What do you consider your greatest achievement?

I might have to say learning learning Boulez’ Pli selon pli. That was really an overwhelming process.

What is the most important lesson life has taught you?

Take more taxis (actually I learned this from my teacher in Canada).

In a nutshell, what is your philosophy?

Be here at this moment.

Barbara Hannigan sings Mozart and Ligeti with the Britten Sinfonia at the Queen Elizabeth Hall on Tuesday 30 November. The concert also includes Weber’s Concertino for Horn and Orchestra with soloist Richard Watkins, and two Rossini overtures. Click here for full details and to book.