It's been the longest period away from the stage in Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra's 127-year history, but live concerts are set to resume this month.

The BSO has announced a series of 12 performances at its home venue, Lighthouse, Poole. Audiences can experience the live performances by digital subscription, which will be available for individual concerts or season bundle.

The performances of around one hour will run without interval and have been planned in close partnership with Lighthouse and following guidance from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport.

The safety of the orchestra’s musicians, guest artists, audiences and staff remain its prime focus. Players will be socially distant – spaced from choir stalls to stage extensions being specially produced by Bournemouth-based specialist firm – and will perform with only one musician per stand, with schedules adapted to reduce time backstage.

A cultural beacon for the South West, the BSO is resident ensemble at five major venues throughout the region – in Bournemouth, Bristol, Exeter, Poole and Portsmouth – and further performance dates in all venues throughout the orchestra’s 10,000-square-mile territory will follow later in the year.

Dorset Society: Players of the BSO, by Patrick BaldwinPlayers of the BSO, by Patrick Baldwin

The BSO’s return to the concert hall will enable it to not only give live performances, but also record material to assist its community choir, BSO Voices, in remote learning; the orchestra will also record educational material to stream to schools and musical content for use in a range of healthcare settings.

“The outpouring of support for our work has further reinforced our belief in the power of music to transform and empower lives – and it’s needed now more than ever," says BSO chief executive, Dougie Scarfe.

"As we look to the future, I’m also thrilled that we’ve been able to confirm two major commissions: by Franghiz Ali-Zadeh and Shirley J Thompson. With two of the UK’s leading pianists and a clutch of the finest conductors around we can’t wait to bring these concerts to the stage; as well as showcasing our brilliant musicians we’re also proud to continue to bring new and lesser-known music to inspire audiences.

“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.”

The orchestra has been based at Lighthouse since 1979: it rehearses and performs each of its main season programmes at the venue, performing around 40 concerts in its concert hall each year. The venue recently received an emergency grant from Arts Council England, providing a temporary lifeline for cultural provision in the area.

“It’s been a long time coming but we are so pleased that we are able to reopen Lighthouse Poole and that our partner and resident orchestra, Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, will be able to rehearse and perform an outstanding season of live performances that will be widely available through digital live streaming and, when possible, to live audiences," says the venue's chief executive Elspeth McBain.

Kirill Karabits, the orchestra’s Chief Conductor, conducts the opening concert and three further performances. Karabits opens with two works offering sombre reflection — his own arrangement of JS Bach’s Lutheran hymn Ein feste Burg and Ives’ The Unanswered Question — before Beethoven’s celebratory Symphony No.7, marking the composer’s anniversary year. The programme will also include Britten’s 1941 arrangement of the second movement of Mahler’s mighty Third Symphony, What the Wild Flowers tell me. The full Mahler symphony originally set to open the Orchestra’s 20/21 season.

Dorset Society: Conductor Kirill Karabits, by Konrad CwikConductor Kirill Karabits, by Konrad Cwik

“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," he says.

"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.

"Further personal highlights include giving the UK premiere of Magnus Lindberg’s Absence — a new orchestral work commissioned to mark the Beethoven anniversary — and performing the music of Theodore Akimenko who is an important figure in our ‘Voices from the East’ series.”

bsolive.com