Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra

Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra

The Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra is an English orchestra. The orchestra was originally based in Bournemouth, but in 1979 moved its offices to the adjacent town of Poole. [Street S, Carpenter R. 1893-1993 – The Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, A Centenary Celebration. Wimborne, The Dovecote Press Ltd, 1993] The orchestra played in The ‘old’ Winter Gardens from its inception until that building was demolished in 1935 (the last piece to be performed being Haydn’s Farewell Symphony). After a time at the Pavilion Theatre, the orchestra moved back to the ‘new’ Winter Gardens with an inaugural concert on 18 October 1947 and continued to give many concerts there until the mid 1980s when the Poole Arts Centre became its main venue. The ‘new’ Winter Gardens were demolished in May 2006. In Poole, the orchestra gives its main season at the Lighthouse Centre for Performing Arts (formerly Poole Arts Centre), where the concert hall has 1,596 seats. Currently Portsmouth Guildhall and the Great Hall of Exeter University are the other main venues, with shorter series given in Bournemouth (Pavilion Theatre) and Basingstoke.

Origins to 1934

The Bournemouth Municipal Orchestra was founded in 1893 by Sir Dan Godfrey as a small group of wind players. The group gave its first concert on Whit Monday 1893 at the Winter Gardens, with its first classical concert in October that year. The band quickly expanded to become a full orchestra, gaining a reputation for championing contemporary British music. Elgar and Holst (among others) conducted the orchestra in their own works. UK premieres were given of major works by R Strauss, Saint-Saens and Tchaikovsky. On 14 December 1903 the Orchestra gave its 500th symphony concert, conducted by Godfrey; a souvenir booklet listed all the works played by the orchestra since its inception, noting any first performances. [The document also includes a preface by Godfrey about the origins of the orchestra, a record of the players in 1903, and a photos of the orchestra. Arts and Humanities Research Council,, accessed 30.8.08] The Bournemouth Municipal Choir, founded by Godfrey in 1911, sang regularly with the orchestra.

Sibelius conducted a concert of his works in 1921, and from 1922 (to 1940) an Easter Festival was an important feature in the Bournemouth calendar; in 1927 the Festival was devoted to music of British women composers. In 1934 Dan Godfrey retired as principal conductor, having conducted over 2,000 symphony concerts. [Croscombe B. A Chronology. In BSO 90 1893-1983 - A special souvenir edition of WOS News. 1983, Spring/Summer, p16-17.]

The first recording by the Bournemouth Municipal Orchestra was made in 1914 and occasional records were issued during Godfrey’s tenure.

1934 to 1954

After Godfrey’s withdrawal, the task of sustaining the orchestra fell to Richard Austin, son of composer and baritone Frederic Austin. Stravinsky conducted his works during a 1936 Easter Festival concert, and broadcasts took place from the Pavilion. At the outbreak of war, the orchestra was cut from 61 to 35, and then in 1940 to only 24 players. Austin resigned and Montague Birch helped keep the orchestra going during the war, giving many ‘popular’ concerts. After the end of the war, the orchestra found a new home at the ‘new’ Winter Gardens and in 1947 Rudolf Schwarz was appointed Musical Director of a re-formed orchestra of 60. He conducted the orchestra in its first concert in London since 1911, at the Royal Albert Hall in 1948, and in two concerts at the Royal Festival Hall during the Festival of Britain in 1951.
Charles Groves took over as Musical Director in 1951, but a rising annual deficit and termination of players’ contracts caused a crisis, averted only by support of the Winter Gardens Society. In 1952 a plan to merge the BMO with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra was avoided by an arrangement with the Arts Council for the orchestra play with Welsh National Opera for several weeks. The continuation of the orchestra was only secured by the formation of the Western Orchestral Society; in 1954 the orchestra changed its name to the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra. At the inaugural concert the podium was shared by Groves and Sir Thomas Beecham. [Lloyd S. Liner notes to ‘Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra 1893-1993’. EMI CD CDM 7 64719 2, 1993.]

1954 to present

From 1954 the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra developed its present role of giving concerts at more venues in the south west of England. In 1962 Constantin Silvestri became Principal Conductor and raised the standard and profile of the orchestra, with an appearance at the Edinburgh Festival in 1963, a first European tour in 1965 and several recordings and broadcasts. The choir was re-named The Bournemouth Symphony Chorus in 1979, when it entered into a closer relationship with the orchestra.

In addition to its roster of principal conductors, other conductors affiliated with the orchestra have included George Hurst, who served as "de facto" principal conductor from 1969 to 1972, between the tenures of Silvestri and Paavo Berglund, without having been formally appointed to the post. Simon Rattle was "conductor in residence" from 1974 to 1976 in one of his earliest orchestra affiliations.

In more recent years, Kees Bakels has served as the orchestra's chief guest conductor (1990-2000) and Richard Hickox as principal guest conductor (1992-1995). Marin Alsop was appointed principal conductor from September 2002. She steps down from this post in 2008. [cite news | url= | title='I don’t need to be liked, I’d rather be respected' | publisher="The Times" | date=2007-02-09 | accessdate=2007-09-08] In November 2007, the orchestra announced the appointment of the Ukranian conductor Kirill Karabits as their next principal conductor. [cite news | url= | title=Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra names new chief conductor | publisher="Gramophone" | author=James Inverne | date=2007-11-23 | accessdate=2007-11-24] Karabits is scheduled to serve as the orchestra's Principal Conductor-Designate for the 2008-2009 season, and to become Principal Conductor from the 2009-2010 season. [cite press release | url= | title=Karabits appointed new Principal Conductor | publisher=Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra | date=2007-11-29 | accessdate=2007-11-30]


In 1968, the Bournemouth Sinfonietta was founded. Despite considerable artistic acclaim as a small orchestra, funding difficulties led to its sudden closure in November 1999.
Kokoro is a contemporary music ensemble of the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, consisting of players from the orchestra and freelance musicians (formed 1994).

Concert programme

The Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra currently gives around 150 concerts a year. In September 1995 the orchestra, conducted by Richard Hickox, gave the first ever complete concert cycle of Vaughan Williams symphonies. [Lebrecht N. Too English for his own good. London, Daily Telegraph, 11 September 1995.]

The orchestra made the world premiere recording of Sibelius's Kullervo Symphony in 1970. Other acclaimed recordings include Deryck Cooke's completion of Gustav Mahler's "Symphony No. 10", conducted by Simon Rattle, Elgar's "In The South" with Silvestri, Tchaikovsky's 2nd piano concerto with Rudolf Barshai and Peter Donohoe, and more recently Elgar's 3rd Symphony with Paul Daniel, and Bernstein's Chichester Psalms with Marin Alsop.

The orchestra performs regularly in the BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall and has played in other great halls of the world, such as the Carnegie Hall in New York and the Musikverein, Vienna. For many years until his death in 2003, Ron Goodwin gave an annual series of Christmas concerts with the orchestra around the south and west of England.

First performances

Among premieres given by the orchestra are
"Symphony in A minor" by Coleridge Taylor (1900), "Serenade in A Minor" by Vaughan Williams (1901), "Symphony in F ‘The Cotswolds’" by Holst (1902), "Tintagel" by Bax (1921), "The Queen of Cornwall" by Boughton (1924), "Symphony No 2" by Boughton (1927), "Piano Concerto No 1" by Alwyn (1930), "Concertino for Two Pianos & Orchestra" by Scott (1931), "Symphony No 1" by Lloyd (1933), "Deux Interludes symphonique de Macbeth" by Bloch (1939), "Symphony No 2" by Arnold (1953), "Symphony No 2" by Williamson (1969), "Symphony No 9" by Simpson (1987), "Symphony 1 'Requiem"' by Lokshin (1988), "The Gardens of Exile" by Schurmann (1991), "A Symphonic Mass" by Lloyd (1993), "Theophany" by John Tavener (1994), "Second Symphony" - Vasks (1999).

Principal Conductors

* 1893-1934: Sir Dan Godfrey
* 1934-1939: Richard Austin
* 1939-1947: Montague Birch
* 1947-1951: Rudolf Schwarz
* 1951-1961: Sir Charles Groves
* 1962-1969: Constantin Silvestri
* 1972-1979: Paavo Berglund
* 1980-1982: Uri Segal
* 1982-1988: Rudolf Barshai
* 1988-1994: Andrew Litton
* 1995-2000: Yakov Kreizberg
* 2002-2008: Marin Alsop


External links

* [ Official site]

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