Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra celebrated by G7 ministers for pioneering pandemic times concerts

29 April 2021, 10:00

Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra is being showcased by G7 ministers for innovative pandemic times concerts
Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra is being showcased by G7 ministers for innovative pandemic times concerts. Picture: Mark Allan

By Rosie Pentreath

Culture minister Oliver Dowden will showcase Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra’s successful digital streams as a prime example of how the UK’s cultural sector has responded to COVID.

Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra (BSO) is being showcased by G7 digital, tech and culture ministers for the success of its pandemic-time streamed concerts.

Officially recognised by culture secretary Oliver Dowden at the gathering of international G7 colleagues, BSO is being acknowledged as one of the first British ensembles to respond to the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic with an exclusive series of live concerts streamed online.

BSO, Classic FM’s Orchestra in the South of England, sold 38,000 digital tickets to audiences around the world during the first national lockdown in 2020, meeting demand from music lovers for world-class music they could enjoy in the safety of their living rooms.

During the first six months of its inaugural live-streamed series, the orchestra has increased its audience by almost 30 percent, with 65,000 views across its performances. The orchestra’s pioneering work will be showcased this week at a meeting of digital technology ministers of G7 countries.

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Broadcasting each Wednesday evening from Lighthouse, Poole, the Orchestra performed its COVID streams using a specially-built stage extension to enable its musicians to play socially-distanced.

Concerts in the series itself have been presented by some of the UK’s leading broadcasters, including Classic FM’s own Catherine Bott. During autumn 2020, when coronavirus restrictions eased across the country, the BSO was also able to welcome a physical audience back into the hall, maintaining a welcoming, COVID-safe environment.

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The BSO’s chief exec, Dougie Scarfe, said, “It is an honour to be asked to represent the best in UK digital content; we’re proud that the UK Government recognises the work that Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra has undertaken to adapt to a new model of working and keep live symphonic music alive during the last year.”

An excerpt of the BSO performing William Walton’s Henry V suite will be shared during the ministers’ meeting.

The UK is taking on the Presidency of G7 at a critical time for the world. With new vaccines offering a way to end the pandemic, we will use our G7 Presidency to build back better from coronavirus.

The Digital and Tech Ministerial Track is under the theme of ‘building back better’. It will seek to demonstrate the G7’s ambition to place the needs of open, democratic societies at the heart of the technology debate and the need for a trusted, values-driven digital ecosystem that can enhance prosperity in a way that is both sustainable and inclusive.

This week (26–30 April) is Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra Week on The Classic FM Concert. Join John Suchet at 8pm-10pm every weeknight, or catch up via Global Player, the official Classic FM app.