Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment

Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment

Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment

Recognised as one of the world’s foremost period instrument ensembles: formed in 1986 as a self-governing orchestra, the OAE has always maintained a player-led approach to artistic planning and programming.


    More than three 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. Specialize 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 mesmerized the music world. Residencies at the Southbank Centre and Glyndebourne have not numbed its experimentalist bent. Record deals have not 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 is still no orchestra in the world quite like it. © Andrew Mellor