50 Thoroughly Good bookmarked tweets from 2020

I have a habit with social media of scrolling and bookmarking. Its instinctive. There is no bookmarking strategy as such. I only really noticed I did it around February 2020.

As it’s the end of the year I figured I’d take a look at the tweets I’ve bookmarked. This selection isn’t trying to be representative of the year, other than a record of the kind of things I’ve responded to in the moment.

Just a warning: there are fifty media-rich tweets in this blog post. So it does take a bit of time to load!

I’m particularly interested in the subjects which have resonated for me, especially discussions around workplace bullying, the advice from Phoebe Waller-Bridge about writing. These two things in particular were clearly dominant themes throughout the year.

Nearly all of the tweets I bookmarked featured video which I think also reminds me of where my thinking has been in terms of content creation strategy, and specifically work. This combination of videos creates a story that I find compelling, reminding me in some cases of pre-COVID news and its impact, in particular the suicide of Caroline Flack which hit colleagues hard.

They’re also illustrations of how thinking has changed throughout the year with regards to the pandemic. The Royal Albert Hall Organ was genuinely funny at the time when the pandemic was beginning to impact UK life. I’m just not sure one would post that now.

Seeing the Imogen Holst post again reminded me how when my mood was low the nostalgia contained within previously unseen footage created an emotional uplift.

Sheer Joy

Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s advice for writers: find a friend and write for them

Pre-COVID concert going experience

Mild news fail

Margaret Atwood on a scooter

Rite of Spring without a conductor

Tricky plane landing

Laura Whitmore’s on-air tribute following the suicide of Caroline Flack

Sir Philip Rutnam resigns from the Home Office

Supporting employees who call-out workplace bullying

Deborah Meaden on Workplace Bullying

Design choices inside the Festival Hall

Who wouldn’t want to be Cherry Wainer?

Painful journalism (stick around until 1.40″)

Priti Patel

Yay. Dogs.

Royal Albert Hall Organ to the rescue

Wash your hands to the lyrics of Britten’s Friday Afternoons

Memories of the last recital I attended

How Government changed in a short space of time

Before lockdown, there was self-isolation

Rotterdam Philharmonic play Ode to Joy in lockdown

Dealing with first UK lockdown with regular dance sessions in the street

Lockdown shoulds

CBSO trumpeter and viola player with a lockdown rendition of Star Trek theme tune

BBC News theme tune played by a weather guy and members of the public

Boris Johnson challenged in the park

Carrie Gracie’s last day on BBC News

Tristan Chord on a floor keyboard

Paul Harvey improvises on four notes

How France made concert going possible in September 2020

Freelance musicians protest in Parliament Square

Kevin Brennan MP asks Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden about false claims regarded self-employed musicians support

Samar Ginsberg plays Thomas The Tank Engine

Rishi Sunak’s reskilling comment is underlined in a Government campaign

Suffolk murmaration

Footage of Imogen Holst conducting her father’s brass band suite

Dominic Cummings leaving Downing Street cut to the Imperial March

Will society be back to normal by Spring 2021?

Reverend Richard Coles and Danny Jules sing and dance for Sally Phillips

If Carols for Choirs could talk

Original footage of Dave Brubeck’s Unsquare Dance

Charlotte Higgins writes about how British classical music is struggling in the pandemic

Why one Spanish opera house put on a performance to an auditorium full of houseplants

Oliver Dowden’s committment to the arts

Questionable social media posting from Andrew Lloyd Webber

Spotify’s committment to supporting artists comes to the fore at a time when musicians can’t perform live

Intrepid Dunedin Consort head back from France concert on a hired fishing boat before travel restrictions are imposed

Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra’s return to the concert hall

Susan Calman’s re-post of her Strictly Semi-Final Dance with Kevin Clifton

13 Thoroughly Good musical things from 2020

If it’s good enough for Fiona Maddocks (link at the bottom of this post) it’s good enough for this blog.

I started the year wanting to explore what the music was that I connected with and, importantly, figure out why.

The list that follows is a summary – the highlights – of my musical year. It doesn’t profess to be a recommended list. Such lists run a high risk of appearing like virtue signalling.

Instead, see this list as evidence of the music I’ve responded to in the unusual cirucmstances we’ve all experienced.

Andrew Manze and the NDR’s Beethoven 7

I’ve long been aware of Andrew Manze but always thought of him in the context of historically-informed performance practice. That changed last year with the discovery of his poignant recording of Vaughan Williams Symphony No.5 with the RLPO.

He brings some of that historically-informed performance experience to this recording with the NDR Radiophilharmonie.

Grit, urgency, and pathos can be found in the string textures. especially in the second movement funeral march. Details abound. A glorious adventure playground for the ears.

Jonathan Biss’ Beethoven Wigmore Hall recital

The last jaw-dropping live music I heard was with Fran Wilson at Wigmore Hall at the top of the year. Tears rolled. Much discussion post-concert. Biss’ playing pinned me to the back wall of the auditorium. Remarkable intensity. Moments that were immediate, uncompromising, and unequivocal. Difficult to put into words exactly what it was like. Exhilerating stuff.

Iain Farrington’s Beethoveniana

This was an unexpected joy. A visual manifestation of the times. Storytelling through dance, backed by visual tropes we’d all become rather used to because of the lockdown. Farrington’s variations and deliciously varied orchestral textures made for a tantalising musical buffet.

Musically too, there was something about the hints at familiar Beethoven melodies that was also of the time – a musical depiction of the way live music was perceived in the mind of the listener: fractured, confined, nearly-recognisable. Some variations are almost too difficult to listen to because of the memories they recall.

Dvorak Symphony No. 8 – Mariss Jansons and the Bavaria Radio Symphony

Technically speaking the recording I heard isn’t the one I’m illustrating here. It was actually a BBC Proms repeat from 2004 featuring Jansons and the Bavarian RSO that blew me away earlier in the year. Electrifying stuff. Made me feel alive. There are beautiful details to delight in in this recording: the delicacy in the upper strings in the third movement; the triumph and celebration in the fourth; and the joyous applause at the end.

Beethoven 3 from Les Concerts des Nations

Its fast and exhilarating. Terrifying. Ravishing.

Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 from the Aurora Orchestra

The Aurora Orchestra’s outdoor performance of Beethoven’s seventh symphony was the first live orchestral music I heard (I think I’m right about that) after lockdown restrictions eased. Two concerts in one evening demonstrated what classical music concerts could turn into in the future. It was a highly-charged affair. The sound of an appreciative audience perhaps the most pleasing of all.

Holst’s Planet Suite in Parliament Square

Hearing the first few bars of Holst’s Mars the Bringer of War in Parliament Square was a moving experience. I went there to capture the protest mounted by freelance musicians calling on the Government to recognise the 30% of freelancers who weren’t able to benefit from the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme. This was old-school bread-and-butter content production as far as I was concerned. A call to arms, one others I knew in the media seemed woefully disinterested in. Perhaps that was part of my motivation – proving them wrong. I found it difficult to look at real human beings and know that they were struggling because of the pandemic. I didn’t really understand how other people couldn’t be moved by the sight of them. A few months on I find it difficult to listen to Mars.

Richard Stamp and Ottensamer’s Copland

If I had to rank this list, I’d probably put this recording joint first with the next one in this post. Richard Stamp’s recording with the late great clarinetist Ernst Ottensamer blew me away, lifting me from an intense bought of what felt like depression. The textures in this intimate recording soothe the soul. Ottensamer’s storytelling in Copland’s concerto makes sense of the work in a way I’ve never really got from other recordings.

Mark Simpson’s Geysir and Mozart’s Wind Serenade

An unexpected invitation to speak to composer and clarinettist Mark Simpson prompted me to listen to this album before it was released. Geysir was a revelation. Highly descriptive writing that celebrates the similarities and differences found in a wind section. It is a delight for the ears. If there is a 2020 subsitute for the live concert experience, then its this. Simpson’s work gave me renewed impetus for the autumn.

Paired with Simpson’s Geysir was Mozart’s Gran partita. The joyous industrious first movement in particular provided much-needed hope at a dark point in my year. The precise articulation throughout the ensemble is a joy to behold.

Both works were recorded at Saffron Hall in Cambridgeshire when lockdown restrictions had been eased.

Transit of Venus / Gillam / Joby Talbot

I’ve heard a lot of ponderous reflective music this year. Jaw-grinding eye-ripping stuff some of it. But Gillam’s much-anticipated ‘Time’, and Jody Talbot’s Transit of Venus in particular, was not only perfectly-timed but restorative too. Gillam’s playing is remarkable in this track. Talbot’s writing effortlessly conveys a sense of hope without resorting to musical cliche. Loved it. Still do.

John Rutter’s ‘Joseph’s Carol’

I include this because it was an unexpectedly moving experience to hear it recorded by the Oxford Philharmonic, Bryn Terfel and John Rutter. Aside from the necessary COVID mitigations, the few hours I spent at Oxford’s Sheldonian Theatre hearing John Rutter’s new carol and speaking to him and Terfel reminded me of the press-junket experience which will, I’m sure in due course, return.

Peace on Earth – Errollyn Wallen

Errollyn Wallen’s eery Peace on Earth was published by English National Opera in July amid the emerging Black Lives Matter movement. Performed by Idunnu Münch and Gerrard Martin, this feels in places like a homage to Benjamin Britten and his love of scales. It a carol (or song?) that gets under the skin. First heard it in Opera Holland Park’s Christmas YouTube concert. There’s a choral version on Spotify too. We had better hear it at the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols next year.

All Things Are Quite Silent – Anna Lapwood and The Choirs of Pembroke College, Cambridge

There has been a preponderance of vocal releases – video, audio, TV and film – this year. Only one album stands up at the end of 2020 as still warranting repeat listens that yield something meaningful. I love everything on the choral album, but if I had to choose one thing above all else it would be Kerensa Briggs heart-stopping Media Vita. Music that shores up my sense of hope.

For Fiona Maddocks’ selection visit the Guardian website.

10 things people said to me in 2020

The first of a handful of unorthodox reviews of my ‘Thoroughly Good’ year.

At the beginning of 2020 I hated speaking to people on the phone. Come the end of the year I find that I’ve become more at ease calling up people on-the-hoof. It is as though 2020 has reminded us that its allowed to call people up without warning.

Part of that is because of video calls. Zoom and Teams are now the communication medium most use (I think I’m right in saying). Maybe Skype.

Seeing people in conversation has been central to a different kind of communication experience.

Way back at the beginning of UK lockdown people reported exhaustion having to have quite so many video calls. The observation seemed obvious to me. We were having to listen more. We were paying closer attention to what we were saying and doing, and what others were saying and doing.

Conversations were more direct. We experienced safety being physically disconnected from the people we were talking to. This fuelled a sense of confidence to say what we thought and felt. Now at the end of the year I feel as though I know people a whole lot better, in a way that I don’t think I would have done had I interacted with them in real life.

And as a result of that, I find myself in between Christmas and New Year with a few phrases lingering in my head. These, like pictures, music, and social media, are the things that characterise my 2020.

“I’m frightened.” “So am I.”

Technically this is me saying something and what someone else said in response. My statement (“I’m frightened”) was recorded in a podcast at the beginning of lockdown in March 2020. “So am I” was the comment left by a friend of mine in comments section below.

“I’m sorry to have to ask you this … “

Around about the time I bought microphone stands and tested out doing fixed mic podcast recordings on location (it seems like another century now), I remember being emailed by a trusted PR pal prior to my visit. “I’m sorry to ask you this,” she said, “but can I just check that you haven’t visited Italy or Spain in the past few weeks, and that you don’t have a persistent cough, and haven’t had a temperature the past few days?”

There was a time when we thought an emailed declaration of good health would nail it.

“People are going to be bored in lockdown so they’ll want to read more.”

This was one of those things you hear in conversation and think, “No. I’m sure I misheard that.” But when you hear it repeated then you realise that no, that is what some people think. It’s a variation on the moldy thought that home-working or furlough would in some way trigger people to write that novel they always threatened the world they would write.

“I don’t want this to sound like a Priti Patel apology, but ….”

Months before Priti Patel made her non-apology for workplace bullying, she was the subject of considerable ire on social media because of her similarly considered obfuscation of responsibility, organisational or personal. Around about the same time I confronted someone about behaviours I felt crossed a bit of a line. There appeared to be great delight derived from referencing Priti Patel’s similar difficulty. I remember having to take deep breaths during the exchange – at times heated, aggressive and intimidating.

Sometimes apologies aren’t apologies. And when they’re not they merely confirm a hunch. How we manage ourselves in the aftermath is what is important. I reassure myself that I was brave remaining true to my values. Even now I can recall the taste in my mouth. It wasn’t pleasant.

“Classical music doesn’t have to be boring.”

This is a trigger phrase. It calls to mind lots of highly-respected experienced marketing types who quite rightly point out the paradox that results from such a mindless statement.

Classical music isn’t boring. No music is boring. To dismiss a genre as boring shows ignorance. To hold up a genre as boring in a bid to demonstrate how you could potentially save it is pointing to a problem that isn’t there and, in the process, being misleading.

“People love all of that mindfulness shit.”

In a year that has for a whole variety of reasons seen the subject of mental health elevated beyond platitudes into something real and present, hearing people speak in a disparaging way of some of the tools friends, colleagues and associates use to maintain their mental health, has consistently made me frustrated. And possibly even a little bit hurt.

“It’s a bit navel-gazy. Change it back, please.”

This was a comment made in response to my copywriting.

The comment stings. Not because I think my copy sings necessarily. I don’t think I’m an expert. Or brilliant. Or beyond criticism. Far from it. Questioning what one does is part of the creative process after all.

It was what the comment really represented: a command. An indication that not everyone is at ease with collaboration. And even less equipped communicating cleanly.

“You get angry when someone crosses your boundaries.”

We often misunderstand the meaning of the word angry.

Angry for some means losing one’s temper. Flushed cheeks. Green stream.

Angry for me means my heart pounding fast in my chest. My legs go shaky. There is an insatiable need to meet the challenge (whatever it is head on). Between you and me, I’m often terrified by the experience.

It’s happened three times this year. Managing it in the moment is what’s key. And the key to managing it is being aware of when it’s happening. Be observant. Don’t take evasive action – that’s when things can have a habit of getting a bit sticky.

Determining whether the person crossing the boundary in question is a repeat offender, and calculating the likelihood of them changing their behaviour is also terribly important. It’s a work in progress. For all of us.

“Thanks for being a colleague, a confidant, and a friend.”

In a year that I think is probably fair to say for all of us fed self-doubt, one message in a card at the end of this year took me completely by surprise.

“You speak a lot of truth.”

I don’t share this one because of the content of it., although I appreciate some will conclude that I’m being massively egotistical by including it. What I’m more interested in is the effect reading the statement had on me. There was a rush – like water seeping into an empty space. A sense of relief. Sometimes when one experiences relief, a split second follows when we realise just how much we needed the reassurance in the first place.

Be patient and ride this out

Not everything has to be perfect. Not everything has to draw in a massive audience. Sometimes things are done for the sheer joy derived from doing them.

I work in a field where numbers are constantly held up as evidence of success or otherwise. More often than not those numbers often act as a mask hiding a lack of understanding of how digital works or what success looks like. Sometimes, success is nothing more than standing up in front of a camera and playing your flute in your bedroom.

Last year when we were able to sit closer than two metres from one another, I spent a Saturday afternoon in the company of the Opal Flutes – a group of amateur musicians who get together for rehearsals and concerts in South London, for the sheer love of playing, and also because of the enthusiasm and drive of its founder Sharon Maloney.

When we convened for filming I was reminded how much joy low-pressure participatory music-making could bring. As adults the experience of rehearsing together is valuable. As adults we gain a better understanding of what’s involved in playing in a group: a bit of direction combined with peer-to-peer encouragement. It was instinctive when we were kids; as adults its a much tougher ask.

Over the past few days I’ve got increasingly irritated by Government restrictions and those who assume that because the Government says its OK to meet up in a pub that its therefore safe and wise to do so. Today, I’ve had to actively remind myself that those people don’t care (even though they should), and they’re unlikely to care, even though some of them I know are those who seek to celebrate classical music.

Looking back over this video clip a year after it was shot reminds me what’s at stake. It reminds me why its important to draw on a sense of personal and collective responsibility and exercise caution.

There’s joy to be derived from experiences shared in close proximity to others. But if we’re not patient and ride this out farther than the ill-thought-out predictions made by our inept Government, then we’ll find ourselves denied these experiences for longer than we’d like.

Watch the Opal Flutes Virtual Concert on YouTube


Meeting John Rutter

On paper spending £30 to go to Oxford on the train and see the recording of a Christmas concert by the Oxford Philharmonic Orchestra seemed like a bit of an extravagance.

The Oxford Philharmonic’s programme is short, contains some old familiars – Abide with Me, Hallelujah Chorus, You’ll Never Walk Alone. And what Christmas concert is complete without some Rutter too. All of it dedicated to the work of those developing the COVID vaccine.

Compared to the last time I was in Oxford to attend a Beethoven Symposium (was it this year or last?), the live music-making experience is entirely different. Programmes are different – pragmatic artistic responses contained within a 16×9 crop, varying angles, a range of different coloured lights if the budget allows, and if you’re really lucky a bit of depth of field too.

No longer do I find myself sitting in a rehearsal wondering how best to write about a piece of music in order to get more people to consider experiencing it live. Now I sit in a kind of hermetically sealed box watching musicians shift through a series of postures in their seats according to whether they’re playing or waiting to play. When they play, the textures they create individually and collectively suggest that everything is just as it was. When they stop and wait for the producer to issue the next instruction across the talkback, they sit back and relax, waiting in silence for the next command.

This stop-start approach to music making is of course necessary. It’s a recording session. Some orchestras and ensembles have made a point of saying how they’re recording as live. Others adhere to creating recorded experiences.

“I come from the Glenn Gould school of performance,” said Oxford Phil conductor Marios.

“Oh. What’s that?”

I really should spend a bit more time researching. Or even reading.

“Gould hated audiences.”

What I’ve overlooked in a lot of my listening and thinking and writing over the past few months is that recording is as a process something that some musicians enjoy. I and a lot of others this year have spent a lot of time moping around about the ‘lack of live’, some even bemoaning how pre-records are a poor substitute. The point is that they’re different. And both are valuable.

Proceedings get underway inside the Sheldonian Theatre with two sing-throughs of Abide with Me with choristers from Merton College Oxford who stand the obligatory two metres apart from one another in the gallery overlooking the audience. The intense melancholy spun out by bows sweeping gently across strings brings an irony into focus. We’re sat here in our distanced seats, watching a similarly distanced orchestra and choir record music for a digital concert dedicated to scientists who have discovered a vaccine which could help get us out of this mess. Music sung by choristers who quite rightly observed social distancing inside the building, but didn’t need to outside whilst they waited outside. The rules that bring everyone together for this now familiar ‘live’ musical experience aren’t about safeguarding one another’s health, they’re about insurance policies. The rules are more the thing the music world is doing battle with, not the virus.

When John Rutter glides into the Theatre in his white bow tie, mask and coat tails, there’s a distinct change in energy. Rutter and the world premiere recording of his newest Christmas gift – Joseph’s Carol – is the main event for this rather strange afternoon jaunt to Oxford. He sets down his worn brown leather briefcase on the floor and bends down to open it, revealing the modest tools he needs to bring his work to life.

Rutter. A name synonymous with Christmas. A name burned into the memories of countless individuals who mark Christmas, childhood memories set to beautiful melodies, and touching harmonies. A composer who has shaped so many people’s experience of Christmas. A composer who actual exists in real life and is there down there below me stood on a podium with his open briefcase on the floor behind him.

“Is there anyone you’d like to speak to Jon?” asks Nicky the PR who had invited me for the afternoon.

This question has a surreal edge to it though Nicky doesn’t realise it at the time.

Earlier on in the day I was arranging interviews with two other high profile performers for a different story, arrangements being made via two, three or maybe four intermediaries all of whom believed that an interview could only go ahead if the questions were pre-agreed, an outline of the twenty minute interview experience was detailed and agreed. If there’s anything that is guaranteed to drain the energy from any interaction it is the assumption that it can only work if everyone knows precisely what is going to be talked about in advance. That isn’t journalism. It’s also not content.

I came to Oxford with no expectations to speak to anyone. I came only to be in amongst musicians, to get a sense of an event and to capture the resulting experience. That was enough for me. And now I’m here, sat here in a tatty jumper with a stupid mask stopping much-needed non-verbal communication being asked if there is anyone I’d like to talk to before I leave. There are only three people potentially: the Oxford Philharmonic music director Marios, tenor Bryn Terfel, and Rutter himself.

“Mr Rutter perhaps?” I say to Nicky almost apologetically. “Maybe Mr Terfel?”

“I’ll see what I can do.” And then she disappears. All very Nicky. Textbook Nicky.

And then it all gets exciting again. In a flash I’m transported back a year to all those trips that marvellous classical music PRs have invited me on to talk to wonderful people about the thing I love. All of them opportunities to be present in a space where magic happens so that the magic of it can be documented and shared wider. The crushing silliness of over-engineered ill-informed ‘interviews’ are in turn a distant memory. In its place the casual spontaneity built on trust and rapport that yields the richest of content opportunities.

Like pre-COVID days. Like the ‘old days’. Back in the game.

Me and Mr Terfel speak. I try to build rapport by drawing attention to a mutual friend of old from Suffolk Youth Orchestra days, his reaction masked. We talk about the Sondheim Prom ten years ago, him playing Sweeney, politics and the unintentional impact of vaccine developments on freelance musicians and their plight. At one stage I wonder whether he might reveal the details of his tax bill, but fortunately we end up talking about he’s become a whole more interested in video and audio production this year and how he might start kitting himself out next year. “That technically means we’d be in competition Mr Terfel,” I quip. “Yes, I suppose so.” “Well look, I’d recommend you go for the cheaper end of the market, you know?”

He signals he’s got the joke with a hearty Terfel chuckle and we pose for the customary selfie. It’s Terfel, I tell myself. This moment needs to be captured.

I find myself pacing whilst I’m waiting to speak to Rutter. A familiar feeling from Eurovision days returns in a flash whilst I mentally clock how much the other journalist in the space has had. This seems a rather futile process given that I like everyone else has suffered an internal body clock malfunction this year. The overriding emotion is one of impatience. Possibly even a sense of competition. Utterly ridiculous I tell myself. But so very familiar when you’re given the unexpected opportunity to connect with a celebrity who actually means something.

Rutter is as I expect. Softly spoken. Mild-mannered. Irritatingly modest. And as I predicted to a friend in a WhatsApp message minutes before, more than attuned to rhetorical questions asked by a fanboy. Of course he is. He went to Cambridge.

We talk about his year, his industrial nature, explaining how he chose to turn his attention to ‘painting the garage’ during lockdown – a witty metaphor for the keyboard arrangements he’s made this year of his most popular choral music. It appears in hearing him speak so modestly about his contribution to a universal experience of music that he is either unaware or unwilling to let himself get in the way of the music. He is, perhaps unsurprisingly, the manifestation of his music. Or maybe his music is a manifestation of him. Either way, I’m not going to get to the bottom of it in ten minutes, so I go for the full on clumsy, ham-fisted approach: “Do you have any sense of how much joy your brings?”

And when that doesn’t yield much, I go for “Do you think you have the best job in the world?”

“I’d do it even if I didn’t get paid.”

“And what would you like to take from 2020 into 2021?”


Boom. Thank you Mr Rutter. We stand for another selfie.

After a short break, me and the other members of what I now realise was a bit of a pre-embargo press junket convene distanced seats back in the gallery. A hush passes over the Theatre. Rutter steps up to the podium. We hear Alex the producer speak from somewhere we can’t see him. “OK. Thank you very much. In your own time.”

The music Rutter has written is classic. Warm strings create a soft reassuring pillow on which Terfel’s carefully-placed voice gently rests. Beautifully balanced melodies that caress the soul supported by harmonic progressions that edge us to and fro from melancholy, hope, pain and pain. It’s difficult not to hear the carol as something that goes beyond Christmas. An anthem for a city proud for the vaccine its University has discovered. As we tread carefully through the final verse and a modest descant stretches the bittersweet tension just a little bit further, there’s a glimmer that all is not lost. Those vital connections which have proved so important over the past few years are still there. And they’re still active.

Later on, during the short trip home, I spend a lot of time beaming at the composition of the selfie – how unusually chipper I look in the shot. Maybe I’m not quite so fat around the face as I thought I was. Maybe I have still got a jaw. Better that Rutter with his still strong chin is in the background slightly out of focus.

Hear John Rutter’s Joseph’s Carol on 18th December via the Oxford Philharmonic’s YouTube and Facebook page.

Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra sells 16K digital tickets plus a new season for 2021

Kudos to the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra for stepping up to the plate and releasing their digital ticket sales figures for their Autumn 2020 season: a useful benchmark which can help producers get a sense of what defines success in the digital realm.

The near-16,000 digital tickets sold for twelve concerts is impressive because it has surprised me. There are assumptions held (we all do it) about the age of an audience, their tech-savvy-ness, and/or their willingness to convert to the digital experience. Given that the capacity of the Poole Lighthouse is 1500, selling 16,000 tickets is an impressive win.

A lot of that depends on what those tickets were – season or individual events – of course. But the bottom line is, its an impressive start. And by sharing it with the wider world, an important strategic point is made: there is still an audience for this, this still matters to communities, and we need to get the concert halls open.

The BSO announced today a new season of concerts for the new year.

Highlights include the UK premiere of American composer and DJ Mason Bates’ Auditorium and the continuation of the Orchestra’s Voices from the East series, with performances of Nurymov’s Symphony No.2 (UK premiere), Rimsky-Korsakov’s rarely performed Symphonic Suite ‘Antar’ (Symphony No.2) and Penderecki’s Prelude for Peace.

Sir John Eliot Gardiner will conduct Brahms and Schumann, and there are welcome returns for Marta Gardolinska, David Hill, Karl-Heinz Steffens and Mark Wigglesworth.

Pianist Benjamin Grosvenor returns as Artist-in-Residence in a recital programme with duo partner violinist Hyeyoon Park. Horn player Felix Klieser makes his UK concerto debut, and there are performances from mezzo-soprano Jennifer Johnston and pianists Stephen Hough and Sunwook Kim.

Listings below. For boooking and more information visit the BSO website.

6 January (Lighthouse, Poole)
Kirill Karabits conductor
Ravel — Le tombeau de Couperin
Couperin — Suite from L’Apothéose de Lully
R Strauss — Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme Suite
[*pre-recorded performance]

13 January (Lighthouse, Poole)
David Hill conductor
Jennifer Johnston mezzo soprano
R Strauss — Träumerei am Kamin
Mahler — Songs of a Wayfarer
Brahms — Symphony No.2 

20 January (Lighthouse, Poole)
Karl-Heinz Steffans conductor
Fauré — Pelléas et Mélisande Suite
Beethoven — Symphony No.3 ‘Eroica’

27 January (Lighthouse, Poole)
Mark Wigglesworth conductor
Wagner — Die Meistersinger Suite
Vaughan Williams — Symphony No.5

3 February (Lighthouse, Poole)
Kirill Karabits conductor
Copland — Fanfare for the Common Man
Mason Bates — Auditorium (UK premiere)
Gershwin — Catfish Row: Suite from Porgy and Bess

10 February (Lighthouse, Poole)
Kirill Karabits conductor
Borodin — In the Steppes of Central Asia
Nurymov — Symphony No.2
Rimsky-Korsakov — Symphonic Suite No.2 ‘Antar’

17 February (Lighthouse, Poole)
Kirill Karabits conductor
Felix Klieser horn
Mozart — Horn Concerto No.4
Bruckner — Symphony No.0 ‘Nullte’

24 February (Lighthouse, Poole)
Sir John Eliot Gardiner conductor
Stephen Hough piano
Schumann — Genoveva Overture
Brahms — Piano Concerto No.1

3 March (Lighthouse, Poole)
Marta Gardolińska conductor
Schubert — Symphony No.3
Liadov — The Enchanted Lake
Shostakovich — Symphony No.9

10 March (Lighthouse, Poole)
Benjamin Grosvenor piano*
Hyeyoon Park violin
Schumann — Kreisleriana
Clara Schumann — Romances
Cesar Franck — Sonata in A
[*Benjamin Grosvenor appears courtesy of Decca Classics]

17 March (Lighthouse, Poole)
Kirill Karabits conductor
Sunwook Kim piano
Beethoven — Piano Concerto No.4
Schumann — Symphony No.4 (original version)

24 March (Lighthouse, Poole)
Kirill Karabits conductor
Penderecki — Prelude for Peace
Haydn — The Seven Last Words of Our Saviour on the Cross