· Chief Conductor Kirill Karabits [pictured] opens the series of 12 socially distanced performances at Lighthouse, Poole.

· Audiences will experience the concerts live online and are anticipated to access the hall as government guidance evolves. Meanwhile, a Bournemouth-based specialist firm builds stage extensions as players sit apart with one per stand and spread to the choir stalls.

· Two major works commissioned to reflect on period of change and evolution: a symphonic work by Azerbaijani composer Franghiz Ali-Zadeh and a chamber work for BSO Resound by Shirley J Thompson. Both will be performed later in the 2020/21 season.

· Two of the UK’s foremost pianists perform: Benjamin Grosvenor is the Orchestra’s Artist in Residence for 2020/21, and Stephen Hough performs Brahms’ Piano Concerto No.2. Soprano Anna Devin concludes the series with Baroque Christmas arias.

· The Orchestra performs the UK premiere of Magnus Lindberg’s Absence – a work commissioned to mark the Beethoven anniversary — and hopes to energise audiences with lesser-known works through its acclaimed Voices from the East series.

· American conductor Case Scaglione makes 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 Orchestra to not only provide 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.

Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra (BSO) announces a series of 12 concerts performed at its home venue, Lighthouse, Poole from 30 September to 16 December 2020. Audiences can experience the live performances by digital subscription, which will be available for individual concerts or 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.

The performances of around one hour will run without interval and have been planned in close partnership with Lighthouse, Poole 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.

Serving the South West
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.

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.

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. 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. 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, Poole 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.

Elspeth McBain, the venue’s Chief Executive, said of the Orchestra’s autumn series, “It’s been a long time coming but we are so pleased that we are able to reopen Lighthouse Poole in September 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. This is the first stage in our recovery since enforced closure in March and it is fitting that the first artists to be welcomed back in are our BSO musicians.”


Kirill Karabits, the Orchestra’s Chief Conductor, conducts the opening concert [Wed 30 Sept] 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.

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. 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.”

New commissions: Franghiz Ali-Zadeh and Shirley J Thompson
The Orchestra continues to push artistic boundaries, commissioning creativity in lockdown with brand new works by Franghiz Ali-Zadeh and Shirley J. Thompson due to be performed later in the 2020/21 season.

The music of German-based composer Franghiz Ali-Zadeh has been championed by Yo-Yo Ma, Hilary Hahn and the Kronos Quartet. Her works fuse the mugham traditions of her native Azerbaijan with experimental Western techniques. The Orchestra has commissioned the new work by Ali-Zadeh for performance in 2021 under the baton of Kirill Karabits; it will reflect on the events of this year.

Composer Shirley J. Thompson’s new chamber work for BSO Resound is set for performance by the Orchestra’s RPS Award-winning professional disabled-led ensemble. Commissioned by Allianz Musical Insurance to mark its 60th anniversary the new piece will chronicle recent events in parallel with the evolution of the Independent Living Movement. The Movement has empowered disabled people around the globe since the 1960s.

Guest soloists
Two of the UK’s leading pianists, Stephen Hough and Benjamin Grosvenor, will perform in the autumn series, and soprano Anna Devin leads a Baroque Christmas performance.

Benjamin Grosvenor, who is the Orchestra’s Artist in Residence for the 2020/21 season, will perform Chopin’s Piano Concerto No.1 [Wed 9 Dec]. He says, “I’m delighted to return to the BSO for a season as Artist in Residence and look forward to playing Chopin in December. I’m certain it’ll be a memorable year.”

Stephen Hough, who recently opened BBC Radio 3’s Lunchtime Concert series from Wigmore Hall, will join the Orchestra in a performance of Brahms’ Piano Concerto No.2. Hough said, “I can’t wait to return to Poole to give a performance with my friends at the BSO, and it’s great that we’re able to continue with the concerto we’d originally planned. Of all the concertos in the repertoire none is more human than Brahms 2nd, and none more consoling in these times of uncertainty.”

The series will showcase the Orchestra with its Principals featuring prominently within the series: Jesper Svedberg, the Orchestra’s principal cello and prominent chamber musician known for his work in the Kungsbacka Piano Trio, will perform Fauré’s Elegy [Wed 25 Nov]. Elsewhere, Chris Avison, the Orchestra’s Principal Trumpet, performs Arutiunian’s Trumpet Concerto [Wed 7 Oct], and the BSO Soloists give a chamber recital of Mozart and Tchaikovsky [Wed 18 Nov].

Magnus Lindberg’s Absence (UK premiere) and Voices from the East series
Renowned for its commitment to lesser-known repertoire, the Orchestra under Kirill Karabits continues to bring former Soviet repertoire — through its Voices from the East series — to the fore. In the 50th anniversary season since the death of Stravinsky, Kirill Karabits conducts a work by the Russian composer’s teacher: Théodore Akimenko [Wed 7 Oct]. The programme also features Arutiunian’s Trumpet Concerto and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No.2.

Karabits will also conduct the UK premiere of Magnus Lindberg’s Absence [Wed 11 Nov].The new work by Lindberg, one of today’s most exciting composers, has been commissioned in partnership with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, and Cologne Philharmonie. Inspired by Beethoven’s Konverzationshefte – a series of conversation books used for communicating during his period of deafness — the new orchestral work was commissioned to mark the Beethoven anniversary and precedes a performance of the rarely performed The Creatures of Prometheus; Beethoven’s only full-length ballet.

Guest conductors
Case Scaglione [Wed 2 Dec] makes his debut with the Orchestra in a programme of Wagner and Schumann. The former Associate Conductor of the New York Philharmonic is current Chief Conductor of the Wüttembergisches Kammerorchester Heilbronn and Music Director of Orchestra National d’Île de France.

Anticipated returns for: Kees Bakels [Wed 21 Oct] in a programme of Haydn and Brahms; James Feddeck [Wed 14 Oct] with Schubert and Dvořák; Thierry Fischer [Wed 28 Oct] who returns with a French programme; the Orchestra’s popular former Young Conductor, Marta Gardolińska [Wed 9 Dec], conducts F. Mendelssohn, Chopin and Haydn; David Hill [Wed 25 Nov], the Orchestra’s Associate Guest Conductor, directs Britten, Fauré and Elgar; and Robert Howarth [Wed 16 Dec] also returns to conduct a celebratory festive Baroque concert.

BSO Participate
The Orchestra’s Participate work continues to reach all ages in communities throughout the South West. Building on its recent BSO Young Explorers initiative to help children aged 4-14 discover music, the Orchestra will share its performances with education providers throughout the region and engage in activities online.

Support for amateur music-making continues to empower lives during lockdown with BSO Participate leading sessions for a Recovery Orchestra (in partnership with Bristol Drugs Project), the Exeter-based Aubergine Family Orchestra, and a Cornish-based contemporary music group Fresk! amongst others.

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