Farewell symphonies - by popular demand One last time - with feeling When parting is such sweet sorrow Pack 'em in with a Farewell Concert

There's been good news for the arts over the past couple of weeks. Contrary to the doom-mongers' bleak predictions that the end of live classical music is nigh, we've been packing 'em in. Well, two of our arts organisations have, anyway: not a seat in the house, queues at the box-office begging for last-minute returns. The Royal Opera House had to put up the barricades for its special gala last week while, only the day before, we in the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra had gazed from the platform in amazement at the full turn-out for a Sunday concert.

It seems that managements have at last found the key to pulling in the punters. Not because it's the New World Symphony or the 1812; not because of a starry pas de deux or a multi-million-pound tenor aria. They've discovered the Farewell Concert. It has taken 20 years to learn the trick from Frank Sinatra, but better late than never.

The Royal Opera decided to hold its beano to remind the faithful - extremely expensively - that they will not be able to set foot in the dear old place again for the next two years, while the decorators are in for pounds 214m-worth of repairs. The Farewell Gala Concert played to a 2,000-plus audience glittering with royalty and VIPs inside the house, and to thousands more watching the live relay on the giant screen outside, while another few millions watched it all on TV at home.

Our Bournemouth do may not quite have emulated Covent Garden's glitzy affair. It was more modest in its aspirations, but no less worthy for all that. It was Brendan O'Brien's last concert after 29 years as the orchestra's leader. "Brendan's Last Stand" shouted the local rag. "The programme will include the New World Symphony, starring Celia Craig playing the famous Hovis segment." It wasn't the prospect of our cor anglais player trying to coax a tune out of a chunk of medium-sliced brown bread that had them flocking in, but the sight of Brendan leading the orchestra for the very last time.

Even though we couldn't rustle up Domingo, Haitink or Solti, or relay the concert on a giant screen above the crazy-golf course outside, or receive sealed bids for Brendan's socks, braces etc, the event was such a success that there is talk of running a whole series of "Brendan's Last Concerts" next summer. We're on to a winner. And just in case Brendan doesn't want to go through his Frank Sinatra bit, we're already scouring the land for people to say farewell to. (They're closing down Kwik-Save up the road, but sadly we can't get our kettle drums past the check-outs.)

I was thinking about all this last week when we were playing a load of modern garbage at one of our music festivals. There weren't many in the audience. I don't know if we did the piece justice. Just after we'd started rehearsing it, a man with a road drill obligingly drilled through electric cables across the road, and paralysed the whole town. Then, on the way to the concert the next day, the orchestra coaches got stuck in the mother of all traffic jams, curtailing our final rehearsal. But I don't suppose that the real reason for the lack of audience was news from Mystic Meg that our rendition might be anything less than perfectly rehearsed. We might have been playing it brilliantly, for all they (and we) knew. Indeed, my desk partner and I were going great guns, sawing away with the utmost confidence - until, half-way down a page, I realised that I'd turned over two pages at once, and we were some 50 bars ahead of everyone else. Such an achievement alone deserved a full house. But it was not to be.

What had put people off were those two dreaded words "First Performance". Not only do they generally imply an assault on the ear-drums, but the word "First" necessarily suggests that yet more performances may be lurking round the corner. The concert's promoters had been guilty of perpetrating a basic marketing error. What they should have promised was "Last Performance" - which is what it almost certainly was - or even "Farewell Gala Performance". That would have been guaranteed to fill the audience's mind with insatiable curiosity, and the box-office coffers with dosh. What's more, the audience would have quite happily sat through the thing, cosily and smugly confident that they would never have to endure the racket again.

Brendan has served the music profession with distinction and integrity throughout a long career - which is more than can be said of most of those in charge of Covent Garden - and he fully deserved all the speeches, tributes and presentations, the standing ovation, the flowers, the special reception and party. So, now that he has gone, who is leading the orchestra this week?

Well, Brendan, actually. I don't think anyone's yet thought of advertising the concert as "Brendan O'Brien's inaugural concert as guest leader" - "inaugural" does not have quite the same magnetic attraction as "Farewell", so it wouldn't make any difference at the box-office. But the next occasion he is with us, in a few weeks' time, could perhps be billed as his "Positively Farewell Concert", for I believe it will be. He has asked for a pair of slippers for his birthdayn IP

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift won Best International Solo Female (Getty)

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Shining star: Maika Monroe, with Jake Weary, in ‘It Follows’
film review
Arts and Entertainment

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Paloma Faith arrives at the Brit Awards (Getty)

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Anne Boleyn's beheading in BBC Two's Wolf Hall

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Follow every rainbow: Julie Andrews in 'The Sound of Music'
film Elizabeth Von Trapp reveals why the musical is so timeless
Arts and Entertainment
Bytes, camera, action: Leehom Wang in ‘Blackhat’
film
Arts and Entertainment
The Libertines will headline this year's festival
music
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Dean Anderson in the original TV series, which ran for seven seasons from 1985-1992
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Muscling in: Noah Stewart and Julia Bullock in 'The Indian Queen'

opera
Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman and David Tennant star in 'Broadchurch'

TVViewers predict what will happen to Miller and Hardy
Arts and Entertainment
Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright in season two of the series

Watch the new House of Cards series three trailer

TV
Arts and Entertainment
An extract from the sequel to Fight Club

books
Arts and Entertainment
David Tennant, Eve Myles and Olivia Colman in Broadchurch series two

TV Review
Arts and Entertainment
Old dogs are still learning in 'New Tricks'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
'Tonight we honour Hollywood’s best and whitest – sorry, brightest' - and other Neil Patrick Harris Oscars jokes

Oscars 2015It was the first time Barney has compered the Academy Awards

Arts and Entertainment
Patricia Arquette making her acceptance speech for winning Best Actress Award

Oscars 2015 From Meryl Streep whooping Patricia Arquette's equality speech to Chris Pine in tears

Arts and Entertainment

Oscars 2015 Mexican filmmaker uses speech to urge 'respect' for immigrants

Arts and Entertainment
Lloyd-Hughes takes the leading role as Ralph Whelan in Channel 4's epic new 10-part drama, Indian Summers

TV Review

The intrigue deepens as we delve further but don't expect any answers just yet
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Segal and Cameron Diaz star in Sex Tape

Razzies 2015 Golden Raspberry Awards 'honours' Cameron Diaz and Kirk Cameron

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

    Climate change key in Syrian conflict

    And it will trigger more war in future
    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
    Is this the way to get young people to vote?

    Getting young people to vote

    From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
    Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

    Poldark star Heida Reed

    'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
    Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

    Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

    Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
    Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
    With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

    Money, corruption and drugs

    The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
    America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

    150 years after it was outlawed...

    ... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
    Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

    You won't believe your eyes

    Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
    Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
    War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn