Pause and Applause

We were at a matinee concert at Bournemouth Pavilion, near the front was a young mother with a little boy who was chatting excitedly, when the music started he quietened. After a few bars the conductor raised his baton for a pause in the music; the little boy called out in a loud voice STOP. It was so funny. The conductor lowered his baton unperturbed and the orchestra carried on playing, but before the next piece of music a busy body usherette came bustling down and moved the mother and child further back and to the side. I hope it didn’t discourage them from live concerts.  After all, the child was better behaved than some adults and Bournemouth Pavilion seems to attract more than its fair share of odd people when Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra are playing.

The seats are very close together with little leg room, not surprising in a building nearly a hundred years old, so just getting to one’s seat involves lots of very English ‘excuse me’s and ‘sorry’s. One afternoon in the foyer, an ‘odd chap’ was already causing confusion in the queue for programmes. Soon after I sat down he came shuffling along, huffing and puffing, treading on toes as he made his way to the middle of the row in front, then with much shuffling, grunts and elbows flying finally sat down. Nobody could believe it when in the middle of the first piece of music he stood up and reversed the whole procedure till he finally reached the aisle again.

One evening the lady in front of me started rummaging in her bag the moment the first notes were played, her friend whispered advice ‘In my experience the more you look the less likely you are to find what you are looking for.’ The rummaging continued until the last note when she triumphantly held aloft what she had been looking for – her glasses.

Surely no one would unwrap sweets noisily? Yes, perhaps they can be excused if they have just had a coughing fit. But why would anyone eat a packet of crisps in a concert? One evening, across the aisle from us, sat a lady who we assumed had come along as carer or friend with a very disabled lady in a state of the art wheelchair. The disabled lady sat quietly enjoying the concert and needed no attention from her friend, so what on earth was her companion doing digging in her bag, rustling around, disturbing everybody and probably the orchestra as well?

Visit another Pavilion concert in a previous blog.


Not everyone intentionally causes havoc at a concert. We were at the Lighthouse in Poole, the BSO were at full throttle in a lively movement of a Tchaikovsky symphony when we felt our seats vibrating. It wasn’t the music; several well built Saint John’s Ambulance people were wheeling a stretcher down the aisle, with even more disruption as they tried to get to the collapsed man; finally they wheeled him off with his poor wife, clutching her handbag, following after them. The orchestra played on valiantly, presumably the conductor would not have seen all the action, some of the orchestra must have, unless they were totally absorbed in the music.

Some people enjoy a night out without hearing the concert. I knew an elderly couple who came to the Lighthouse throughout the season. He loved music, she did not and figured they could afford for him to go to more concerts if they didn’t buy tickets for her. She was quite happy to sit in the foyer with her knitting, holding court, chatting to the Saint John Ambulance and bar staff. At one stage she made a friend who also sat out the concert waiting for her husband.


If you have never been to a live concert before don’t worry, you won’t draw attention to yourself if you follow two simple rules. Don’t clap till you are surrounded by applause; even regulars don’t always know when a piece of music has ended. Second rule, don’t stand up, don’t move a muscle until the orchestra leaves the stage. You may think the concert is over because the conductor and soloist have been applauded and left the stage. Don’t be deceived, they will return, perhaps several times to more frantic applause and just when you really think it’s over and you will be in time to catch your train or get to the car park before your ticket expires, the pianist will sit down smiling and play an encore. At one concert the flamboyant pianist played three encores, each with enthusiastic flourishes, did I detect  a look of panic on the faces of the orchestra members, was she ever going to go home?



Wagner, Elgar and All Star Superslam Wrestling

The Pavilion is one of my favourite buildings in Bournemouth, an Art Deco theatre and ballroom built nearly a hundred years ago, a Grade Two listed building  that has outlasted two Winter Gardens. The ballroom has wonderful views of Poole Bay and The Purbecks.  If you go to the theatre, don’t be late getting to your seat if you are in the middle of the row; they are narrow with very little leg room, a timely reminder of how slim our recent forebears were. But outside the auditorium there is plenty of space. If you are going to the theatre, explore the rest of the building, saunter down (literally ) the sloping corridors on either side and look out on the Lower Gardens. Then if you need to go before the show, don’t want to queue to use the loo, descend the stairs to the ballroom toilets, more spacious than those at the front of house, with the original ashtrays still in the cubicles.

On Sunday there was a matinee concert with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra. The whole Pavilion was abuzz so there was obviously another event going on in the ballroom, which could have been anything from a wedding fair to an antiques show. But what no one, sauntering down the corridor in the depths of the building to the ballroom toilets, expected to see were large bare chested men wandering around, wearing what appeared to be ladies see through panties. A shock for elderly ladies on a respectable Sunday afternoon outing and for mothers who had brought their young daughters for some culture. All through Wagner’s serene Siegfried Idyll I was wondering if the chaps had come from some Netflix fantasy drama. I was relieved the young man playing Elgar’s Cello Concerto had his normal concert gear on, as my seat was only a few feet away.

In the interval we discovered from the ushers guarding the ballroom doors that it was All Star Superslam Wrestling. Unfortunately the wrestlers were not seen again so I didn’t get a chance to have another look. But I’m sure Dvorak’s New World Symphony was more exciting.

Alas, Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, one of the country’s leading orchestras              a Cultural Beacon for the South and South West of England, only play seven or eight concerts a year in Bournemouth. They do not live here, but down the road in Poole at The Lighthouse Centre for the Arts. A bit annoying, as when we moved here I thought I had steered us to heaven, a seaside town with its own orchestra. The orchestra is older than either building, founded in 1893. They are also Classic FM’s Orchestra in the South of England. At The Pavilion Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon concerts we get a jolly Classic FM presenter, who has stories to tell, just like the radio only thankfully without the advertisements.

At The Lighthouse things are more serious, except at Christmas. Here the audience have been praised by conductor Kirill Karabits for trying lesser know pieces every season. BBC Radio Three broadcasts live concerts regularly; occasions when you certainly don’t want to be late getting to your seat or forget to turn your mobile off.

Music is one of the themes of my Brief Encounters trilogy; download the first book for only 99 pence.