Bolton Symphony Orchestra's new chairperson

17 Nov 2020 02:58
Published by: Scott Callan

If you listen very carefully, you may notice something is missing in Bolton: the sound of live music. Like a lot of music makers, Bolton Symphony Orchestra has been silenced by the Covid 19 pandemic. But the Orchestra has been busy making plans for when it can start playing again, including the appointment of a new Chairperson. He is Steve Mawhinney and one of the Orchestra's members, Nikki Lord, has been finding out a bit more about him and his vision for Bolton Symphony Orchestra.

Introducing Steve...

Steve has been living in Bolton since moving to the north west nine years ago with the BBC. He moved from London as the Head of News for BBC Radio 5 Live and was part of the BBC North Board, helping to build and establish the new BBC presence at MediaCity in Salford Quays. Four years ago, he moved to a new role as Head of Journalism for BBC Sport.

Steve and his family are very involved with their local church, St Peter's Halliwell, and in 2018 he became a licensed Lay Reader in the Manchester Diocese.

Love of music and its uniting power

Steve is keenly interested in music of many genres, from folk to country to classical. In particular he has a passion for Baroque music, with the Bach Double Violin Concerto, Pachelbel's Canon and Vivaldi's Four Seasons being among his favourites. He is also a huge fan of the late Ennio Morricone, who wrote the scores for some of his most loved films, including The Untouchables, Cinema Paradiso and The Mission. He also appreciates music which tells a story and has been to see folk singer Kate Rusby more times than he can remember. His most memorable concert was by the Manchester rock group James at the Brixton Academy in 2007.

Steve's introduction to music came from learning the violin from the age of eight and playing in school ensembles and the youth orchestra in the London Borough of Barnet where he grew up. He has fond memories of playing at the Royal Festival Hall as a teenager and Steve remembers the excitement, anticipation and nerves of performing in a large concert hall.

Steve says: "Music has the ability to bring people together, both as performers and listeners. I love the fact that all sorts of different people, playing different instruments and different notes at different times, can end up creating a single beautiful sound. I also love the fact that all sorts of different people can hear that music together and enjoy it in a profoundly personal way.

For writers and composers, music allows them to tell their stories and share their experiences. For listeners, it has the power to transport them to a different place, either soothing and healing or spurring them to action. For so many people, it's an indispensable part of their lives."

Bolton Symphony Orchestra and its community

Steve believes that the Bolton Symphony Orchestra plays a vital role in bringing local people together both to perform and listen: "For many local musicians, playing together in an orchestra is much more satisfying than playing on your own. Together you can create something that a solo performer could never achieve.

For communities in Bolton too, I believe it is important for them to have a welcoming and accessible orchestra that they can come together to listen to and enjoy."

The impact of covid-19 on performances and the arts

Steve feels the role of the arts is very important, particularly now. He says: "At a time where people have had to be physically separated due to the virus, the ability of music and the other arts to bring people together has never been more important. For many people, who are having to deal with grief and loss and fear, music's ability to help them escape to a different, more peaceful, place is also hugely valuable."

Why Bolton Symphony Orchestra?

Steve explains that he has enjoyed being an audience member, having attended a number of concerts, and recognizes the quality and excellence of the orchestra that comes from teamwork, discipline and practice. He views it as "a friendly, warm and welcoming orchestra that takes the music seriously, but doesn't take itself too seriously!"

Where do we go from here?

Steve says: "The most important thing is to find the best and safest way to return to playing when the virus allows. Once it does, and hopefully the sooner the better, then I would love the orchestra to reach out to new and diverse audiences, in particular young people. I would also love to see more collaboration and partnerships with other creative arts groups in Bolton.

Mostly, though, I would like the orchestra to be a place where the members enjoy being together and making music together and where their joy spills out to the audience."
In the meantime, while the orchestra is forced to remain silent, we will continue to engage with our members and audiences via social media on our Facebook page and Twitter.

You may be interested in