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Hear from Dougie Scarf OBE, Chief Executive at the BSO
We recently sat down with BSO’s Chief Executive Dougie Scarfe OBE to ask his thoughts on the past 10 years, how our partnership grew in the pandemic and what he is looking forward to over the next year.
How has our support impacted the BSO over the past ten years?
The relationship between Investec Wealth & Investment (UK) and the BSO has become the model on which we, and others outside of the BSO, look to base their great partnerships. It’s based on a shared values, an understanding of the power of music to bring people together, and on music’s ability to reach out in a way that few things can. The business of running an orchestra is that of a mixed economy. Our funding comes from both national and local government, from corporate and philanthropic giving, and from revenue raised through tickets and more. Investec Wealth & Investment (UK) has stood by us – both during the exciting moments but also during some of the most challenging, the pandemic of course – which has meant a huge amount to all of us.
Highlights of the past decade together?
The spirit of the partnership that grew during the pandemic has been a remarkable thing. Investec Wealth & Investment (UK) supported our inaugural livestreamed series, which enabled us to truly innovate. Poole is our home, it’s where we create our best work which we then export across the region, digitally and on the road in person. Their support is crucial in enabling us to deliver all of that. The pandemic pulled us closer together, and over a longer period of time. But, importantly, on top of it all we have really good fun!
It’s been a rewarding year for the Orchestra, and you personally, what have been your highlights of 2023 so far?
As always, the BSO has been hugely busy, delivering events across the whole region. For me there have been some real stand out moments, from exciting new guest artists to the return of familiar faces in our audiences.
Our partnership with the Bharatanatyam dancer and choreographer Seeta Patel and her dance company, Seeta Patel Dance, finally came to life this spring following several years in the making. The memorable collaboration brought Stravinsky’s iconic The Rite of Spring score to life — with the full BSO performing in the pit of Sadler’s Wells in London, conducted by Kirill Karabits. Seeta’s choreography worked so brilliantly with this music and captured something extraordinary. There have been many versions over the years, and this interpretation stands up there with the very best. It was a moment we’ll never forget, and we can’t wait to take it on the road later this year to Basingstoke and Poole. The return of the remarkable pianist Alexander Malofeev marked another key moment in early 2023. It was brilliant to witness him ‘wow’ the audience when he returned to perform the Grieg Piano Concerto towards the end of the season. It is a work that is very familiar to musicians and audiences, yet in his hands it sounded fresh and almost like something else entirely (in a good way!). Alexander becomes our Artist-in-Residence for 2023/24 and the excitement around this is palpable.
The steady return of audience confidence since the start of the year has been another significant highlight for all of us. People have returned to the concert hall to enjoy the shared experience and witnessing that has been so rewarding for everyone. Watching the reactions in the packed concert halls for our non-traditional ‘BSO Pops’ events has been particularly moving — with many coming to the Orchestra for the first time. It's also been a year in which the work of the BSO has been recognised beyond the sector (ed. Dougie won the ABO/Classical Music Orchestra Manager of the Year award before being recognised with an OBE in His Majesty King Charles III’s inaugural Birthday Honours list), and I’ve felt a huge sense of pride on behalf of the Company.
What are you most excited about for the 2023/24 season?
This season marks Kirill’s final as Chief Conductor, following an extraordinary 15-year partnership, and we’re looking forward to celebrating Kirill’s artistic achievements throughout it. He’ll conduct favourite works by Borodin and Brahms and there will some familiar faces returning to the stage too. Kirill, Heather (our Head of Concerts and Artistic Planning), and I have worked closely to devise the final three-week period of the season, which we hope you’ll find unmissable! We’ll pay homage to ‘Voices from the East’, the series celebrating works from former Soviet states, with works by Tchaikovsky, Ivan Karabits and Giya Kancheli — and culminating with Mily Balakirev’s Islamey, a show piece that few conduct better than Kirill! He’ll also conduct Tchaikovsky’s opera Iolanta, a piece he’s wanted to conduct it at the BSO for ten years, so that’ll be a particularly exciting moment. The period concludes with Shostakovich’s Fifth Symphony, which is a work that says so much about the human condition.
Another huge highlight will be the return to our residency at Bristol Beacon, following the venue’s five-year refurbishment. We can’t wait to return to audiences in the city with the full breadth of BSO programming… from Schools’ Concerts and Voices from the East to Symphonic Pink Floyd.
Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra’s 2023/24 concert season returns, with Chief Conductor Kirill Karabits and Artist-in-Residence Alexander Malofeev, on Wednesday 4 October. See full details at bsolive.com.
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