On 14 June, Bedford Corn Exchange will be welcoming back its first audiences since the start of lockdown as members of the Philharmonia return to the Orchestra’s residency town for a one-off performance.
It is over a year since the Philharmonia’s 2019/20 season in Bedford was cut short by the pandemic.
This summer, a specially selected ensemble of musicians from the Orchestra will launch the restart of Bedford’s cultural scene with a programme of classical favourites.
Conducted by Robin O’Neill, the ensemble presents a colourful evening of music by Gershwin and Debussy arranged for small ensemble, a cheeky reimagining of Bach’s well-loved C major Prelude, and a grand finale with Handel’s Music for the Royal Fireworks.
The Philharmonia Orchestra has been a cultural icon at the heart of Bedford since the launch of its residency over 25 years ago, bringing some of the world’s greatest classical artists to perform at the Corn Exchange.
Throughout the pandemic, it has maintained its deep local connections through acclaimed free online performances specially made for Bedford audiences.
An online version of its popular Orchestra Unwrapped schools’ concerts supported by The Harpur Trust and the Philharmonia Orchestra in Bedford Trust reached hundreds of local primary school children and families, while its Hear and Now project returned with a moving filmed artistic work.
With June’s live performance the Orchestra is looking forward to reforging its local ties in person ahead of a return season of large-scale orchestral performances in the autumn, to be announced this summer.
Comprehensive measures have been put in place across the venue to ensure visitor safety. Capacity at Bedford Corn Exchange has been reduced to 175 to allow social distancing, and all tickets will be posted in advance.
Members of the public will be reminded ahead of the performance not to enter the building if they or their household have experienced Covid symptoms in the past 14 days. The Corn Exchange’s dedicated staff have received new training to maintain visitor safety and comfort, including a seated bar service with contactless payments encouraged, and the venue will have hand sanitiser available for audience members to use.
The Philharmonia is grateful for funding from the Cultural Recovery Fund which has made this concert possible. The Orchestra’s Bedford residency is made possible by the support of the Philharmonia Orchestra in Bedford Trust and The Harpur Trust.