THE traditional New Year's Day Gala of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra attracts a worldwide audience in the tens of millions.

It is a truly global phenomenon.

Music lovers in the south of England may consider themselves to be most fortunate that their own Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra provides its own bit of Viennese magic a little closer to home.

The players served up a delightful two and bit hours of Strauss and friends on New Year's Day, the perfect escape from the current troubles.

They were conducted by the excellent Michael Seal whose commentary on each piece added to the audience's knowledge and the sense of occasion.

Who knew the gala in Vienna only began life in its current form in 1939, to keep up morale as war loomed?

Or that Johannes Brahms wished he had written On the Beautiful Blue Danube?

The afternoon began with dazzlingly brilliant Die Fledermaus Overture, followed by Morgenblatter (Morning Papers) Waltz.

The audience was then introduced to the remarkable enchanting soprano Elizabeth Watts, who was an absolute delight singing Lehar's Viljalied and the Meinen Lippen Sie kussen so heisse - then later Adele's Laughing Song and the Czardas from Fledermaus.

Other highlights included the Emperor Waltz, Roses from the South, Tritsch-Tratch Polka and of the course the Blue Danube and the traditional encore, the Radetsky March by Strauss the Elder.

At the Musikverein in Vienna a few hours earlier, legendary conductor Daniel Barenboim spoke movingly of the work of the Vienna Philharmonic and its 'community of musicians' providing hope and inspiration to the world in these times of challenge.

He could have been speaking about all musicians, where-ever and however they have played in the past two years.

This is certainly as true of the BSO as of any orchestra.