Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra
I always feel a strong sense of nostalgia whenever the BSO is in town, and especially when it’s back playing in the Guildhall.
For many years, as we were growing up, we always looked forward to the BSO’s regular visits, when they were able to bring some big names to the city, and when these visits were quite regular dates on the musical calendar.
As with many things, it doesn’t take too much for things to go pear-shaped and, without wanting even to touch upon any history, suffice it to say that visits to the city became severely curtailed, and while the Pavilions was originally envisaged as a multi-purpose venue, where pop concerts and classical events could, in theory, go side by side, in practice it just never worked.
In fact, the BSO was involved in the opening concert there, back in 1991 – featuring a programme that was supposed to highlight the venue’s suitability as a multi-purpose venue. I recall the conductor at the time was well-known Welsh musician, Owain Arwel Hughes who, quite by chance, had given me a course of conducting lessons during my student days at the RCM.
Also taking part in this rather bizarre event, was the late Irish comedian, Frank Carson, who never minded what he said. However, when he first appeared on stage, and his first words were: ‘It’s like a bloody great hangar!’, clearly he knew far more than the city council did about the building and its design.
This, though, is all water under the bridge now, and we’re delighted to see the BSO back in the Guildhall. In fact they are currently visiting the city twice a year just now, having played here back in February, and will return next February, so that’s hopefully a move in the right direction.
It was a really good turn-out this week, and, if it were merely down to the audience, the BSO would be as welcome here, as they are in Exeter, where they are able to visit far more frequently.
Yes, this programme – under the experienced leadership of violinist Amyn Merchant – was decidedly one of popular titbits, rather than a more substantial affair, much in the spirit of Classic FM. This isn’t surprising given that the radio station is BSO’s Principal Media Partner. But Classic FM is a commercial station, where it’s as much about Profit as Prokofiev. They wouldn’t have elected to partner the BSO, if they didn’t think they’d get a decent return, both financially, as well as artistically.
You, too, can see why Classic FM made such a canny choice, by coming to the BSO’s next Plymouth gig on Thursday February 7 in Plymouth Guildhall at 7.30pm. On this occasion, experienced British conductor, Michael Seal, takes the baton for a programme entitled ‘Natural Beauty’. Mendelssohn’s Hebrides Overture opens proceedings, followed by Brahms’s Violin Concerto, with Chinese soloist Ning Feng. Dvorak’s Symphony No 8 concludes what should be an evening of wall-to-wall pure melody.
You can read my full review of the present concert here at Seen and Heard International.
Philip R Buttall
top image: Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra with Victor Aviat (inset)
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