Why is Symphony Hall still dark?

CHRISTOPHER MORLEY LAMENTS THE CONTINUED DARKNESS OF BIRMINGHAM'S SYMPHONY HALL


DARK SYMPHONY HALL


A few weeks ago I drove down to the south coast, passing through the autumnal New Forest, and arriving at Poole in Dorset.
And there I attended (and reviewed on worldwide media) the first post-lockdown concert given by the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, at their home base in the Lighthouse Arts Centre.
The organisation was immaculate. Socially-distanced seats were personally allocated, volunteer stewards (so happy to see their concert hall functioning again) had been coached in their tasks and helpfully directed us, even to the loos, and then the orchestra appeared.
On an extended platform, the distancing of the orchestra was carefully preserved. Some of the brass were situated way up in the gallery, there were partitions between the winds and the strings, the percussion were carefully tucked away, but here was a a full orchestra performing in front of a live, enthusiastic, and totally well-behaved audience.
More recently I have attended concerts at the Stratford Play House, during the Stratford Music Festival, and audience accommodation was so resourcefully arranged. I was particularly impressed with the layout for Peter Donohoe's recital, when, in addition to the socially-distanced raked seating, there were carefully-identified tables at floor level, each with their social bubble, subtly lit from above, and creating an almost cabaret atmosphere.
I then went to a Leamington Music event at the Dream Factory in Warwick, where the social distancing in the audience was brilliant, everything making for a comfortable and rewarding evening.
I was at a full-scale BSO concert in its regular home. The CBSO is valiantly presenting mini-concerts with a handful of players at its own rehearsal base, the CBSO Centre,, playing to a handful audience.
If the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra can be playing at the Lighthouse, its home base, why not the CBSO at its home base in Symphony Hall?
The Lighthouse in Poole mobilised its volunteer stewards for the wonderful concert I attended. Cannot Symphony Hall stir itself to do the same? Or is Fafner still content to snore in his cave, guarding his riches so that no-one can get to them?

Christopher Morley

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