The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment have added American conductor William Christie '69 MM to their prestigious list of Emeritus conductors.
The OAE have never had a permanent conductor, rejecting the usual hierarchy of an orchestra in favour of a democratic set up. Conductors are instead invited to perform by members of the orchestra, which allows the OAE to take advantage of a huge range of expertise.
‘One of the first things any guest conductor recognizes is the extraordinary individuality of members both old and new’ says Christie. ‘I may have contributed to this complex personality and adore it every time I am entitled to conduct them.’
Christie has worked with the orchestra since 1996 when he conducted his first – infamous – Glyndebourne production of Handel’s oratorio Theodora, directed by the ever-eccentric Peter Sellars. In that production (pictured above), Sellars transformed the original Roman tale into an allegory for the state of modern American politics.
‘It was one of those rare musical happenings when all the various elements – orchestra, conductor, singers and director – were all in perfect alignment’ remembers violist Martin Kelly.
Though the title ‘Emeritus’ is usually an honorary, inactive position, the OAE has never been known to follow the rules.