This year Bournemouth Pavilion, the town’s Grade II listed theatre, ballroom and cultural venue, will be celebrating its ninetieth anniversary. It opened on Tuesday 19 March 1929. During March 2019 there will be a series of special anniversary events and activities for all.
On Sunday 10 March Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra (BSO) will be delivering a Best of British Concert celebrating British music played around the time of the venue opening. Conducted by Stephen Bell, the BSO will play Elgar’s Cockaigne Overture, performed at the very first Pavilion concert. Elgar described the music as “cheerful and Londony – ‘stout and steaky’”. More of London is evoked in Coates’ Knightsbridge March made famous as the theme tune for the BBC’s In Town Tonight.
The concert also features a trip to the country for two bucolic idylls by Delius and Butterworth and a rumbustious suite of English folk dances by Malcolm Arnold. Vaughan Williams’ scintillating overture to The Wasps will feature, and Walton provides the pageantry with his rousing coronation march, Crown Imperial, complete with stirring central maestoso tune and incidental music to Laurence Olivier’s film of Shakespeare’s Henry V. This concert will be presented by Classic FM’s John Brunnings.
On Thursday 14 March a lunchtime Compton Organ and Steinway Grand Piano performance features Byron Jones who will take us on a journey of musicals performed at the venue throughout its ninety year history. The Compton Organ has been a continuous musical thread at Bournemouth Pavilion throughout its ninety years. Played by Philip Dore for the opening in 1929, its claim to fame relies on Civic Organist, Percy Whitlock, who took over in 1932; now recognised as an important British Composer of the era, writing much organ music during his time at Bournemouth Pavilion. He also wrote light music for the Municipal Orchestra often under his pseudonym Kenneth Lark. A Heritage Plaque on the front of the venue acknowledges his residency at the venue.
On Saturday 16 March the venue will be opening its doors for a free-to-attend community open day. Guided backstage tours of the building will be available and 200 children from local schools will be performing a medley of songs from the 1920s to the present day. There will be performances from Pavilion Youth Theatre pupils and strolling theatrical performances from the Pavilion Adult Theatre group. The Compton Organ will be played throughout the day and copies of archive material, including photographs and show programmes, supported by the Cinema Theatre Association, will be displayed in the corridors.
On the evening of Tuesday 19 March there will be a special black and white screening of the Warner Bros. 1933 blockbuster hit 42nd Street. The musical show has been staged almost every decade at the Pavilion and this will be a unique opportunity to be part of an evening as it might have been in the 1930s. The Municipal Orchestra will re-create a 25 minute musical interlude prior to the Compton Organ rising to play nostalgic tunes, as it would have been seen regularly in the 1930s.
The celebrations conclude on Wednesday 20 March with a Gala Tea Dance in the ballroom with MC Michael Wooldridge, a performance from soprano Emily Matthews, and the Pavilion Ballroom Band.