New professional ensemble led by disabled musicians

Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra has announced the names of a new professional ensemble led by disabled musicians.

The six founding musicians of its new disabled-led ensemble are Siobhan Clough (violin/ viola), Phillip Howells (percussion), Roger Preston (cello), Kate Risdon (flute), Matthew Scott (clarinet) and Charlotte White (LinnStrument).

The players trained at London conservatoires Trinity Laban, Royal Academy and Guildhall School of Music.

The ensemble is a core part of the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra’s Change Makers project funded by Arts Council England and already features James Rose a disabled conductor who began his 18-month training placement with the Orchestra in June 2017. James will curate and direct the ensemble.

This is a lovely piece of news. At the same time its not necessarily a surprise this is the kind of boundary breaking work Bournemouth is fast developing a reputation for. Can’t wait to see the ensemble in action.


Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra wins National Dementia Friendly Award

Congratulations to the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra who secured a National Dementia Friendly Award yesterday for their pioneering work providing classical music concerts for dementia sufferers.

Over the last 12 months the BSO has produced 92 separate sessions to 3,243 people in residential and hospital care.

One of the projects especially caught my eye. The Cake Concerts are another project run by the BSO’s Boost strand, helping to improve the lives of those living with dementia with the Alzheimer’s Society, in particular through its Dementia Friends initiative. BSO musicians performed a classical music concert for those living with dementia and their friends, family and carers all in a relaxed and accessible atmosphere with a slice of cake.

The BSO’s work was highlighted in the debate hosted by Ed Vaizey in response to the publication of a cross-party report Creative Health: The Arts for Health and Wellbeing in October of this year.

Pictured collecting the award presented by actress Lesley Sharp are (L to R) Jeremy Hughes, Alzheimer’s Society Chief Executive, Lesley Sharp, actress, winners Douglas Scarfe, Chief Executive of Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and Lisa Tregale, Head of BSO Participate and Angela Rippon CBE, Alzheimer’s Society Ambassador.

BBC Proms 2017/30: Walton’s Belshazzar’s Feast / National Youth Choirs of Great Britain / Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra / Kirill Karabits

I risk going against the grain with this post.

The National Youth Choirs of Great Britain’s Prom featuring William Walton’s Belshazzar’s Feast was not one I especially enjoyed.

In fact, I’d go a little further. I don’t hear what everyone else appears to have heard when I listen to it back via iPlayer Radio. And I’ve listened to it three times today. I even roped in my other half to act as a ‘control’ listener.

Belshazzar’s Feast suffered from quite remarkable intonation in the sopranos.

In some places the voices were unsupported, meaning that the top notes often came in a little flat. Once or twice is forgivable, but when it happens consistently, I begin to wonder whether the programme was a little ambitious.

Additionally, some sections of the orchestral accompaniment got off to a rocky start. There were also moments when it felt like the orchestra itself was struggling to keep together.

I don’t deny anyone the excitement of their experience performing it at the Royal Albert Hall. It’s my hunch that Belshazzar’s was under-rehearsed. Maybe that was down to the inclusion of a lesser-known work by Prokofiev which, presumably, made demands on rehearsal time.

Jonathan Dove’s Mansfield Park set for Autumn production at Grange Festival

Opera in luxurious settings – they’re all the rage at the moment. The original – Glynebourne – has inspired the likes of Opera Holland Park, Garsington, Grange Park Opera, and, this year, Grange Festival.

This isn’t a matter of cashing in, or aping someone else’s style. Each has their own character. Each has their own way of creating a sense of occasion out of a visit. After all, if everyone on the production is making a special effort to put on a show, why wouldn’t the audience want to make a special effort in order to watch it. Expect to see more and more of these appear in the next few years. We’ll know when we’ve reached capacity when a bank holiday run of The Ring is offered with options for glamping.

Grange Festival has another added benefit which I’m currently finding rather tempting – an interval 10 minutes longer than its parent Glynebourne, running to an astonishing 100 minutes. You’ve travelled all that way, why rush the experience?

That makes the prospect of GF’s September production of Jonathan Dove’s Mansfield Park a tempting prospect (though I’m advised that in autumnal September and out of festival, the interval is limited to just 30 minutes). Sure, the reviews of its 2011 premiere were glowing (all five stars), but it’s still a punt, isn’t it? Turn the visit an afternoon trot round a 17th century neo-classical Hampshire mansion, and a meal, and the pressure is off the new(ish) opera. If you end up enjoying the thing you assume you won’t (because its unfamiliar to you) then so much the better.

It’s a tidy package. What I’m not quite clear on is whether I’m finding it tempting because I’m getting older, getting tired of concert halls, or whether its because opera companies have hit on a saleable idea. And given that the top price ticket is £80 that makes the whole thing a better offer than a concert.

Jonathan Dove’s Mansfield Park is on at Grange Festival on Saturday 16 and Sunday 17 September 2017


Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra unveil a shiny new website and a new pal

The Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra with boss man Kiril Karabits

The Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra have put their brand new website live – the responsive design events portal makes finding and booking tickets for a concert one of the most straightforward of online experiences I’ve seen in a long time. Well done them. I especially like the green. A classy affair.

And speaking of affairs (boom tish, etc), the BSO are also introducing a new broadcast partnership with Classic FM today. The station will support a series of concerts throughout the 2013/14 season, the first broadcast live from 7pm on Saturday 26 October. The programme includes Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto and Sibelius’ Karelia Suite.

Global Radio‘s Classic FM also supports the RLPO, RSNO, Opera North Orchestra, Royal Northern Sinfonia, Philharmonia and the LSO.