Blackpool Symphony Orchestra all set for centenary celebrations in 2022

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It’s promising to be a vintage year for Blackpool Symphony Orchestra for a good reason –  the ensemble is celebrating its centenary.

The Blackpool Symphony Orchestra is celebrating its centenary

The Blackpool Symphony Orchestra is celebrating its centenary

The orchestra was founded by musician Percy Dayman in 1921 but a string of celebratory events in 2021 had to be postponed because of uncertainty over the Covid pandemic.

It means that most of the celebrations for the orchestra, known as the BSO, will be held in 2022 with a series of special concerts, including a major musical spectacle at the Winter Gardens in July.

During the past 100 years, the orchestra’s chief aim has been to ensure that residents on the Fylde coast can access live performances of classical music, including many of the greatest works in the repertoire.

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Despite the restrictions imposed by the pandemic the orchestra, under the dynamic leadership of music director and conductor Helen Harrison, was still able to complete a number of projects and provide inspirational performances for music lovers in 2020 and 2021.

Helen said: “Now more than ever, we need music.

“As musicians, playing music is not just something we do but who we are.

“Being able to play our music to others so they can enjoy it is so important to us.

Helen Harrison, music director and conductor of Blackpool Symphony Orchestra

Helen Harrison, music director and conductor of Blackpool Symphony Orchestra

“We’re really looking forward to sharing our centenary with music-lovers on the Fylde coast.”

The BSO attracts players from across Lancashire with a core membership of 50 semi-professional musicians under Helen’s direction.

This year Helen was chosen to participate in the Women Conductors’ International Masterclass run by the Royal Opera House in July.

The previous month she was invited by the Royal Philharmonic Society to work with the Royal Northern Sinfonia as one of four emerging conductors in a project to advance gender equality on the podium.

The orchestra performed Somewhere Over the Rainbow online

The orchestra performed Somewhere Over the Rainbow online

The BSO was really put on the map when the orchestra’s dazzling performance of Somewhere Over the Rainbow, performed and recorded virtually over social media, not only raised £3,000 for Blackpool Food Bank but won the Making Music national award for Best Virtual Concert Video 2020, was highly commended by the Royal Philharmonic Society Awards 2020 and the Classical Music Digital Awards 2020.

The video can be watched here:

Once restrictions were relaxed last year, the orchestra was able to perform at a well-received Centenary Prom Concert at the Grand Theatre Blackpool in September with an audience of 500 and featuring international soprano soloist Jane Irwin.

This concert also marked the 10th anniversary of Helen Harrison becoming the Music Director of the BSO with a special presentation at the concert of a Golden Baton.

BSO enjoys a special relationship with Our Lady of the Assumption RC Primary in Blackpool as their ‘Orchestra in Residence’.

Over the past ten years the orchestra has worked on a range of projects staging concerts in the school, joint performances in professional venues and opportunities for the school band to rehearse with the BSO music director.

The orchestra rehearses on a weekly basis at the school, putting it at the heart of the community.

BSO’s centenary concert plans for 2022 include a concert at Fleetwood’s Marine Hall on Saturday March 19, in conjunction with pupils from Our Lady of the

Assumption, which is specially designed to introduce new audience members and youngsters, to the joys of live orchestral music.

Music will include highlights from Beethoven’s famous 5th Symphony , Mussorgsky’s Night on a Bare Mountain, ‘Mars’ from Holst’s The Planets and many other

classical favourites.

On Saturday July 2, there will be a concert at Blackpool’s Winter Gardens, including Mendelssohn’s much-loved violin concerto and and the overture from Gilbert and Sullivan’s comic operetta, HMS Pinafore Overture.

And on Saturday September 3 the BSO will perform at a proms concert in Lancaster Castle in honour of Her Majesty the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.

For further information about the orchestra visit: https://www.blackpoolsymphony.co.uk