We’ve received a fragment of musical history involving the International Olympic Committee from Ed Smith, who was chief executive of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra at the time Symphony Hall was opened. Ed writes:
During the opening of Symphony Hall on 12 June 1991 by HM the Queen and the first official concert, the self-important International Olympic Committee was meeting in Birmingham to determine the venue for the 1998 Summer Olympics.
“They must all be given tickets for the Opening Concert” we were instructed.
“Are you sure they will want to attend a concert of a new work by Mark-Anthony Turnage and 80 minutes of Mahler’s Resurrection Symphony – albeit with the CBSO and its Chorus under Simon Rattle?” we humbly asked.
“All shall have tickets” came the imperious reply.
Come the performance, acres of unoccupied red seats were seen on the live BBCTV transmission as a result of these grandees finding a Balti or some other Brummy delight more palatable than a symphony concert.
Thank goodness we had a second performance for those who really wanted – and paid for- their first experience in what was to become one of the world’s great concert halls.