The internationally renowned Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra (BSO) and The Octagon Theatre in Yeovil have announced a major new partnership that will see the theatre become BSO’s “home in Somerset” when it reopens following the £29.01m transformation of the venue into a flagship cultural venue for the South West.
The partnership will see a regular concert series at the venue from the Orchestra alongside an exciting and ambitious education and outreach programme designed to bring world-class musical opportunities to residents and visitors of Somerset.
The Octagon Theatre development will see the 622-seat theatre increase to 900 seats with vastly improved acoustics in the main auditorium and additional performance and participatory spaces. The venue, which is owned and managed by South Somerset District Council (SSDC), is also planning to develop an exciting new arts engagement outreach programme that will create more opportunities for people to engage and benefit from the creative arts through schools, performances, workshops, regular classes and special projects that will focus on those from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Octagon Theatre Manager, Adam Burgan said: “I am absolutely delighted that we can announce this partnership with the amazing Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra. As one of UK’s best loved orchestras it will be fantastic to make the developed Octagon Theatre their new home in Somerset. Everyone deserves the opportunity to listen, watch and be inspired by music. This residency with BSO will enable us to bring world-class artists to Somerset for regular performances throughout the year that will engage and delight our audiences, whilst work with BSO’s amazing Participate team will create more opportunities for our communities to have access to and be enriched by BSO’s talented musicians. I look forward to developing and delivering activity with BSO over the coming years and to see the direct benefits from this partnership.”
Dougie Scarfe, the Orchestra’s Chief Executive said: “We’re thrilled that our partners at The Octagon Theatre and South Somerset District Council share our passion for the empowering impact of live music. We’re looking forward to deepening our relationship with communities in Somerset, with even more live concerts from the full Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, plus family-friendly ‘BSO On Your Doorstep’ chamber-scale concerts, workshops and events. Bringing music into people’s lives is why we exist, and we remain committed to reaching people who need our music, now more than ever.”
Councillor Mike Best, Portfolio Holder for Health and Wellbeing for SSDC and Chairman of Somerset Council, said: “For too long our residents have had to travel outside of Somerset to experience the type of performances and projects that this partnership will bring. Our ambitious and forward thinking plans to develop The Octagon Theatre into a flagship regional centre of excellence for the arts is already proving to be a catalyst for change with South Somerset designated a “Priority Place for Arts Council England. None of this would be happening without our commitment to The Octagon and I am thrilled to see this partnership develop, which I hope will be the first of many for the developed Octagon Theatre, and hope that it will continue over many years to come.”
While much activity will be delivered when the development of The Octagon Theatre is expected to be completed in 2025, there are already opportunities for audiences to benefit with the BSO due to perform at The Octagon Theatre on Saturday 19 November 2022. The Orchestra will be conducted by its Chief Conductor, Kirill Karabits, in an Italian themed programme to include works from Walton, Mendelssohn and Schubert.
The concert follows three successful ‘BSO On Your Doorstep’ performances at Westlands Entertainment Venue as arranged and performed by BSO’s professional musicians earlier this year. The series of family-friendly performances was successful in introducing people of all ages to live classical music in a relaxed environment. More of these concerts are being planned alongside schools concerts later in 2023.
Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra performs at The Octagon Theatre, Yeovil, on Saturday 19 November at 7.30pm. You can get your tickets online via the Octagon theatre website.