The start of the BSO season is always one of the most exciting chapters in each concert year, marked by anticipation of what is to come. However, the 2023/24 season began in a way that our loyal Devon-based audiences couldn’t have predicted. As we prepared to load up the van, with music rehearsed, we learnt of flash flooding and storm damage to the University of Exeter’s Great Hall, where we’ve performed as resident orchestra for many years.
Thankfully, staff at Exmouth Pavilion were able to accommodate our opening performance at short notice. With a smaller stage, it was no longer possible to fit both a grand piano and full orchestra for Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto, so our brilliant soloist – the pianist Alim Beisembayev, who had stepped in at short notice a few weeks earlier to make a high-profile BBC Proms debut – instead offered a solo recital for the first half of the evening. Alim’s performance of works by Debussy and Beethoven thrilled the appreciative audience, who had travelled along the coast to join us in Exmouth for the concert. The Orchestra, under the baton of Tom Fetherstonhaugh, then performed works by Fyodor Akimenko and Beethoven as originally planned.
The much-anticipated return of Chief Conductor Kirill Karabits, in his final season in the role, was also moved, on Friday 13 October. The event, which welcomed Emmanuel Ceysson, the Principal Harpist of the LA Philharmonic, to perform Glière’s Harp Concerto, instead took place at Exeter’s Corn Exchange in a programme that also featured works by Borodin and Mozart.
We return to perform to Exeter Cathedral, on St Cecilia’s day, Wednesday 22 November, when Tom Fetherstonhaugh conducts a sparkling programme, including Mozart’s Piano Concerto No.27 with Steven Osborne and a suite from Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker.
Another performance, under the baton of the Orchestra’s Principal Guest Conductor, Mark Wigglesworth, took place in the historic venue on 26 October. The programme, which welcomed Tobias Feldmann in Brahms’ Violin Concerto, saw Wigglesworth conduct a memorable performance of Tristan und Isolde: An Orchestral Passion by Wagner (arr. De Vlieger).
We’re grateful to everyone across the region who has helped us to keep the music going as we’ve explored different places and spaces this autumn. We look forward to returning to the University’s Great Hall for our festive programme, and much more in the New Year. Join us there!
Click here to hear us perform in Exeter Cathedral on Wednesday 22 November with Assistant Conductor Tom Fetherstonhaugh. Tickets from £15.