Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment

Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment

Just over two decades ago, a group of London musicians took a good 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. Specialise in 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 mesmerised the music world. Residencies at the Southbank Centre and Glyndebourne haven’t numbed its experimentalist bent. Record deals haven’t 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. And over two decades on, there’s still no orchestra in the world quite like it.

Stevenson, Juliet


Actress Juliet Stevenson is perhaps best known for her roles in such feature length films asEmma (1996), Bend It Like Beckham (2002) and The Mona Lisa Smile (2003), as well as popular TV series such as Accused (BBC, 2010), Lewis (ITV 2007- ) and The Hour (BBC, 2011). Despite her prolific back-catalogue of on screen appearances her career is firmly rooted in stage. After graduating from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) in the late 70’s Juliet went on to work with the Royal Shakespeare Company where her contemporaries included the then emerging actors Jonathan Pryce, Patrick Stewart and Alan Rickman amongst others. Her stage career won her great success and in 1992 Juliet was presented with the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actress for her portrayal of Paulina in Ariel Dorfman’s Death and the Maiden. Juliet is currently starring in BBC 2’s new six part TV drama White Heat.


Sally Beamish and Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment

  • Total duration: 17'34
  • MP3 | 320K 44.1 KHz
    31.7 MB
     | PRICE £0.79

  • FLAC 16 | 16bit 44.1 KHz
    64.10 MB
     | PRICE £0.89



Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment
Juliet Stevenson, narrator

Spinal Chords is a piece of music set to a text written by Melanie Reid, a columnist for The Times who broke her neck and back following a horse-riding accident in April 2010 which left her paralysed. Melanie's weekly 'Spinal Column' in the The Times is an inspirational account of how she deals with raised and dashed hopes of recovery and how she in turn has been inspired by the many young people on her ward, many of them injured in sporting activities. Sally's piece will reflect the positive spirit of Melanie and the many other people, including Paralympians, who display such a life-affirming attitude in the face of adversity.


20 outstanding new works, each lasting 12 minutes, commissioned to feature centre stage of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad. New Music 20x12 is a UK-wide commissioning programme consisting of twenty new pieces of music, each of 12 minutes in length, celebrating the talent and imagination of the UK’s musical community as part of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad.

Over the next 12 months you will be able to enjoy performances of these 20 new works in a wide range of venues and unexpected locations across the length and breadth of the UK – from churches, arts centres and concert halls to public spaces, festivals and a train journey. Each piece will be broadcast on BBC Radio 3 and available to purchase as mp3/FLAC download from NMC.

Visit our New Music 20x12 Project Page for more information about the twenty works.




"Reid's powerful words compel ..."



Produced in association with BBC Radio 3 and PRS for Music Foundation


The performance of Spinal Chords by Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and narrated by Juliet Stevenson, was recorded on 5 February 2012 by the BBC at Turner Sims, Southhampton and was broadcast on BBC Radio 3 on 21 April 2012.

Catalogue number:
NMC DL2012-04
Release Date:
30 April 2012