Tell us more about your relationship with the BSO…

I first heard the BSO at the Proms when I was a student and the Orchestra was performing Shostakovich’s Tenth Symphony with Rudolph Barshai. Then when I left the Royal College of Music in the 1980s I played horn in the BSO as a freelance musician. The BSO’s principal horn Dick Thomas made a real impression on me at the time – he could play so incredibly quietly! Therefore it’s been really lovely to come back to conduct the BSO over the last few years.  The area is also a favourite holiday spot for my family, especially our annual visits to the Purbecks.

Can you tell us about any highlights in your musical career to date?

I’ve always been a big fan of film music; the ability of the music to enhance or compliment what happens on screen has always fascinated me. Without doubt, one of the finest ever exponents is the great John Williams, and so a career highlight for me has to be recording two of the Star Wars soundtracks with the composer himself.

There’s a magical connection that takes place between musicians and live audience in the concert hall, why is this so important in your opinion?

After such a long time without audiences (the BSO ‘Tchaikfest!’ concert back in June was my first with an audience for an incredible 453 days) , I have to confess it was quite emotional to hear and feel that connection. Music is such a subjective thing and affects us all in so many different ways. Whilst orchestras have been particularly inventive and resilient throughout this pandemic, there is no doubt that you simply can’t beat the thrill of listening and watching live music happening in real time – long may it continue!

What are you most looking forward to conducting this summer?

One of the things I most enjoy about my job is the fact that no two weeks are ever the same, and so this answer may vary depending on when you ask the question! Of course, I’m looking forward to returning to Poole with the BSO for the remainder of this summer season, especially with such varied repertoire, but as I write, I’m currently working on a project that I gave the world premiere of with the RTE Concert Orchestra back in 2019. This summer sees the UK premiere of the Porgy and Bess album recorded by Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong back in 1958 – amazing to think the music was lost after the original recording sessions, so bringing it back to life after over 60 years is very exciting.

Stephen Bell conducts our summer concerts, to book tickets click here. Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra’s summer concerts are supported by Summer Season Sponsor, Investec.

To read our summer season press release click here