THE Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra is back.

In one sense it never went away, because its groundbreaking digital live stream performances of the past year and a bit have been a brilliant, cultural ray of hope and a lifeline in otherwise dark times for the arts.

But on Wednesday at Lighthouse Poole, the players were before a live, socially distanced audience again for the first time since December 18, in the first concert of the summer season.

The emotion of the moment was lost on anyone.

From the stage, the BSO's chief executive, Dougie Scarfe, welcomed everyone back.

"We have missed you," he said.

Addressing those in the auditorium and those watching at home, he said: "Our mission is to show people that coming to a concert is safe. Please tell everyone it's okay to come back."

He added: "There is nothing quite as special as the sound of a full symphony orchestra in flight."

And take flight they did, under the baton of the energetic Stephen Bell and led as ever by Amyn Merchant in a programme dedicated solely to Tchaikovsky.

No-one (in my view) does emotion, drama and pathos like the Russian grand master.

But he can also deliver pretty well on the uplifting and the joyful.

The evening opened with the sublime Capriccio Italien, his beautiful and evocative picture postcard of a piece following a trip to Rome.

The lilting Waltz and sparkling Polonaise from Eugene Onegin were as ever, a delight as was the spellbinding solo performance on Pezzo Capriccisio and Andante Cantabile by the BSO's principal cellist, Jesper Svedberg.

His efforts were met by huge appreciation by audience and his fellow musicians.

Where else to end the evening but with excerpts from the oh-so familiar but always spine-tingling Swan Lake including a selection of the character dances and that untouchable, epic finale as Odette is engulfed by the water.

But then I am biased. It was this Tchaikovsky tour de force that got me hooked on classical music at the age 17. Swan Lake gets me every time.

We await with anticipation the news that full houses can return.

For more on the BSO's summer series including a world premiere by BSO Resound on June 17 and the Magic of Mozart in July please see