BSO autumn concerts at Poole

THE Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra has returned to the concert stage at Poole’s Lighthouse arts with 12 socially distanced concerts, continuing to 16th December.

Audiences will be able to experience the concerts live online and, it is hoped, to attend events in the hall, as the government guidance on Covid-19 restrictions continues to evolve. Meanwhile, a Bournemouth-based specialist firm is building stage extensions to enable the players to sit apart with one per stand and spread to the choir stalls.

Two major works have been commissioned to reflect on this period of change and evolution: a symphonic work by Azerbaijani composer Franghiz Ali-Zadeh, whose music has been championed by YoYo Ma and the Kronos Quartet, and a chamber work for BSO Resound by Shirley J Thompson. Both will be performed later in the 2020/21 season. 

The orchestra will also give the UK premiere of Magnus Lindberg’s Absence, commissioned to mark the Beethoven anniversary, and hopes to energise audiences with lesser-known works through its Voices from the East series.

Guest soloists during the season will include two of the UK’s foremost pianists – Benjamin Grosvenor, the orchestra’s Artist in Residence for 2020/21, and Stephen Hough, who will play Brahms’ Piano Concerto No.2. Soprano Anna Devin will join the BSO to sing baroque Christmas arias at the last of the series.

The American conductor Case Scaglione will make his BSO debut and Marta Gardolińska returns following two successful years as Young Conductor. There are also welcome returns for conductors Kees Bakels, James Feddeck, Thierry Fischer and David Hill.

The return to the stage will enable the BSO not only to play live performances, but also record rehearsal material for its community choir, BSO Voices, create further educational material for schoolchildren throughout the South West, and musical content for use in a range of healthcare settings.

Further dates for the touring ensemble’s other resident venues — in Bristol, Bournemouth, Exeter and Portsmouth — are expected to follow.

Audiences can experience the live performances by digital subscription,  available for individual concerts or a season bundle. Performances will be open to attend when the government moves to Stage Four of the roadmap for the performing arts; which is expected to enable limited capacity in the hall.

BSO chief executive, Dougie Scarfe, says: “After the longest period away from the stage in our 127-year-history, we’re pleased to announce the start of the orchestra’s return to live performances for our loyal audiences in the South West. 

“It’s taken meticulous planning to present these programmes in the safest way possible for audiences, musicians and staff. As a touring ensemble, embedded in communities throughout a vast region we can’t wait to get back on the road and we hope to announce further performance dates as guidance evolves.”

Chief conductor Kirill Karabits says: “I can’t wait to bring live orchestral music back to Lighthouse and I’m certain it’ll be an emotional moment for all when we are reunited with our loyal supporters and friends. I hope to offer a moment of reflection with the opening concert: from the beauty of the Bach chorale A Mighty Fortress Is Our God and the reflective colour of Ives’ The Unanswered Question to finishing with the most joyous and affirming of Beethoven symphonies [No 7].”

For full details of the BSO’s autumn concerts and wider activity visit

Pictured: Principal conductor Kirill Karabits; conductor Marta Gardolinska; composer Shirley J Thompson and members of BSO Resound.