“WHEN you have traumatic times, the good relationships get stronger,” says Dougie Scarfe.

The chief executive of Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra is talking about the organisation’s 10-year partnership with Investec, which in 2020 faced the challenge of how to respond to the Covid lockdowns.

The crisis prompted the orchestra to start live streaming its concerts, with the backing of Investec and its Bournemouth office head Scott Jones.

“The pandemic only brought us closer, amazingly,” said Mr Scarfe.

“In a way it was a sign of the quality of the relationship that we were rethinking our business and Scott and his team were saying ‘We’d really like to support that’. So the live stream series which has taken the name of the BSO onto the international stage over the pandemic, I think that came about because the starting point was a very strong sense of shared values.”

The relationship started a decade ago, Mr Jones says, because the wealth manager was “very keen to be a part of society, not just taking advantage of it”.

“In my ignorance I didn’t know enough about Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra at all. I knew the name, I knew it existed, but I just had no comprehension that right on our doorstep we had this world-class orchestra,” he said.

“Like any relationship it did take a bit of time for us to get it all synced together and everything in line but it is one of those lovely partnerships that has just got stronger and stronger.

“I know BSO is bigger than Bournemouth – it’s the whole of the south and it’s international as well – but what is done within the local community, the work in schools, the work in hospitals, working with the chamber of commerce, all of that chimes so well with us as well.”

Mr Scarfe said: “The BSO came into existence because there were people in Bournemouth and this area who felt music and culture should have an important place in people’s lives here.

“We were called the municipal orchestra, we were for the municipality, but it was a business driver for Bournemouth. Music and culture helped society grow at that time. Move that on 120 years and we’re an established orchestra, we are a charity that aims to bring music into people’s lives, and whether it’s a hospital or a care home or a concert hall, or a wonderful Investec reception, we want to make people feel good about the world, bring people together for a shared experience.

“Investec is a very high quality brand with very strong ideals about the way they work. Well of course that fits very well with us because we aspire to be the very best orchestra we can, engaging people in communities across the whole of the region.”

The live streams that became hugely popular at the height of the pandemic continue, helping the orchestra reach people in remote locations in the south west as well as music lovers around the world. 

“I have honestly lost count of the number of audience members who have come to me and said they consider the live streams during that 2020-21 to be a lifesaver,” said Mr Scarfe.

“The word lifesaver is used because people were so isolated and they’d lost so much connection with their families or their friends.

“We know there’s a lot of love for the BSO but in the fact that we were able to reach out with Investec support had an extraordinary impact. That’s why we remain one of the only orchestras in the UK to be continuing. We’re live streaming over three quarters of our Wednesday concerts this season.”

He said the Investec sponsorship helps the orchestra deliver its “best quality work”, whether that is in the concert hall or in acute hospital wards, care homes and primary schools.

“Clearly the relationship has direct financial impact on us which is massively welcome but also it is actually showing society that investment in culture, from a broad set of angles, is really important," he added.