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Blog - James Rose

Playing the Proms in the Park and the BBC Relaxed Prom

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My time with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra has been unbelievable, but the last few months especially have been a real whirlwind. From what began as just an idea I had over 4 years ago, to performing at the BBC Proms alongside the full orchestra, I can hardly believe that it’s all actually happening.

After finishing the schools’ tour in June, the focus was to prepare for our first public performances: the BSO’s Proms in the Park and the BBC Relaxed Prom. These were two different performances in completely different settings, the first would be outdoors in Meyrick Park, Bournemouth while the second would be at one of the most famous and prestigious concert halls in the world, the Royal Albert Hall.

BSO Resound (Photo credit: Graeme Robertson)

The BSO’s Relaxed Thursday formed a part of the Orchestra’s Proms in the Park, a weekend of outdoor concerts in Bournemouth. Last year’s Proms in the Park weekend was my first BSO concert I attended as an audience member. So, returning to the same concert series to perform with BSO Resound, marking our first public performance, was very special.

The BSO’s Relaxed Thursday was an afternoon of musical fun performed in a relaxed setting, opening the opportunity to experience live orchestral music up to a much wider audience. There was an air of excitement encapsulating the days’ proceedings this being BSO Resound’s first opportunity to a paying public. As you can imagine, nerves were high but we were focussed on the job in hand. From the sounding of the first notes of Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro, we made a strong first impression on the audience.

Earlier in the day I had met with Stephen Moss, a journalist from the Guardian who was writing a feature about BSO Resound. This interview was just one of the media engagements that took place in August; the BSO’s Communications team have been keeping us all busy with interviews for newspapers, magazines, blogs, radio and television! It’s been amazing to be able to share the work that we’re doing with so many people.

James Rose, Change Maker/ Conductor, after conducting BSO Resound at the BSO’s Proms in the Park ( Photo credit: Graeme Robertson)

Just over two weeks after our performance at the BSO Proms in the Park, BSO Resound performed at the BBC Relaxed Proms. This was a Proms debut for BSO Resound, myself and my baton! I’ve been working with Drake Music since 2015 to develop an accessible baton which will allow me to progress with my conducting career. During this time, I have tested several versions of my conducting baton. I found that I wasn’t getting the dexterity and precision of movement that I wanted or needed because there was too much movement in how the baton was connected to my glasses.

So, Drake Music put me in touch with Luis Zayas, a regular member of the DMLab London hackmeets, who came up with a more secure fitting, providing greater control as a conductor. We also made the new baton, version 3.0, lighter and more comfortable to use. Once we had created the new design, Drake Music brought us together with Queen Mary University of London, they used the latest technology to 3-D print my baton!

The new baton, which had its debut at the BBC Proms, is called the Rose Conducting Baton. It was developed in partnership with myself, Luis Zayas and Drake Music, with additional support from the EPSRC+AHRC Media and Arts Technology Centre for Doctoral Training at Queen Mary University of London and Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra.

James Rose debuting his new baton at the BBC Relaxed Prom

Now that I was kitted out with the perfect baton, the next thing to do was to conduct BSO Resound at the BBC Proms!! Conducting at the Royal Albert Hall was amazing albeit a little bit terrifying, but in a good way! I’m extremely humbled to have had this debut so early on in my career. It was like conducting in a painted cave being surrounded by a colourful wall of faces concentrated on the performance whilst omitting so much positive energy to the stage. This wall of faces camouflaged the friends and family who were waving madly trying to get my attention. Not surprising though as my focus was on my fellow musicians, ensuring that we remain in sync with Sian and the main orchestra. I am so proud of my fellow musicians as well as the fantastic administrative team who have put their heart and souls into making the concert a success, setting a number of world firsts.

BSO Resound performing ‘Hoping’ alongside the BSO at the BBC Relaxed Prom

We have now set the bar and will continue to move forward to create more amazing music showing that determination and passion can create new pathways into the profession. After spending years fighting to train as a conductor, I’m now working with a team who believe in me and this project entirely. The team at the BSO are not afraid to demand a lot from me, and they are constantly pushing me.

This is just the start and I am so excited for the future!

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