From symphonic blockbusters to working in the community.
The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra returns to its full strength and range of activities this autumn, sharing the talents and ambition of the entire CBSO family of ensembles with audiences in its home city and beyond. From large-scale symphonies at Symphony Hall, a B:Music venue, and unplugged gigs in Hockley Social Club, to workshops in schools, the orchestra will offer communities throughout Birmingham and the West Midlands the crucial opportunity to re-engage with live music and culture this autumn.
The season opens on Thursday 16th September with Principal Guest Conductor leading the CBSO Chorus and CBSO Youth Chorus – reunited with the orchestra for the first time since early 2020 – in a French-inspired programme including Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture and Poulenc’s Gloria. They will be joined by organist Anna Lapwood for Saint-Saëns’ Organ Symphony in the French composer’s centenary year.
Stephen Maddock, Chief Executive of the CBSO: “After the stop/start nature of the CBSO’s concerts – and indeed all our lives – in 2020-21, it’s fantastic to be looking ahead to a full autumn season rich in variety and musical excitement. From symphonic blockbusters by Saint-Saëns, Beethoven, Dvořák, Tchaikovsky and Brahms, to new works by some of today’s most exciting composers, by way of Elton John and the Classic FM Hall of Fame, I really do hope that once again audiences will let the CBSO uplift them and be reminded of the power of live music.”
Three CBSO Centenary Commissions – part of the orchestra’s most ambitious commissioning programme to date – receive their premieres Mark-Anthony Turnage’s Go For It (30th September, world premiere), Debbie Wiseman’s Carnival of the Endangered Animals (24th October, world premiere) and Jonathan Dove’s In Exile (9th December, UK premiere). They will also give UK premieres of two pieces by living Canadian composers new to the CBSO’s repertoire: Cassandra Miller’s La Donna (6th October) and Samy Moussa’s Nocturne (27th October).
With the ninety-strong orchestra back on stage at the world-renowned Symphony Hall, audiences will be invited to experience the full aural splendour of well-known symphonic blockbusters Saint-Saëns’Organ Symphony, Tchaikovsky’s Pathétique, Brahms’ No.1, Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony and Dvořák’s New World Symphony alongside other CBSO favourites including Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture, Copland’s Appalachian Spring Suite, Ravel’s Daphnis and Chloé and Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet.
The hugely popular Friday Night Classics also returns with the CBSO’s musicians showcasing their versatility in performing orchestral music from a variety of genres. CBSO’s annual Christmas celebration returns, featuring the massed family of CBSO choruses and packed with festive favourites, carols and readings for the whole family directed by Chorus Director, Simon Halsey (16th, 17th & 19th December). Inspired by Vienna’s traditional New Year celebrations, the Orchestra will enter 2022 in style with a glittering selection of Viennese waltzes, polkas, marches and arias performed under the baton of Eduardo Strausser and guest Soprano Aga Mikolaj (7th January).
The CBSO remains committed to supporting and developing the musical education of children and young people throughout the West Midlands. After returning to schools in Spring 2021 and reaching over 5,500 children in the Summer Term, the orchestra will resume its full programme of educational activities, working closely with schools to deliver their programmes safely. It continues its four-year long Share The Dream project with local primary schools to create a new work which will be performed by children next summer to herald the start of the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.
Connecting communities and inspiring people from all backgrounds through music has been at the heart of the CBSO’s mission since it was founded 101 years ago. It continues to develop its visibility and engagement within its home city and in October launches a month-long series of community events. In collaboration with neighbourhoods throughout Birmingham it will co-create tailored programmes of workshops, performances and events. As part of the month-long focus, the orchestra will also launch a brand new series at Hockley Social Club. Located in a converted warehouse on Hampton Street, Birmingham, the newly-opened food and drinks market will be the unique setting for intimate and informal chamber performances of contemporary classical music. The orchestra will also give pop up performances for members of the public at Birmingham’s New Street Station.
CBSO+ free pre-concert events will also return – this year in the newly-renovated front of house areas of Symphony Hall – making concerts a whole-evening experience. Events include free pre-concert talks and Q&As with conductors and soloists, and pre-concert performances by talented musicians from Royal Birmingham Conservatoire.
The CBSO will continue its partnership with Classic FM, the UK’s most popular classical music station, as its Orchestra in the Midlands. Classic FM recommends a series of concerts throughout the season including the season opener conducted by Kazuki Yamada and the world premiere of Debbie Wiseman’s CBSO Centenary Commission Carnival of the Endangered Animals, and present a concert in partnership with the orchestra – Classic FM Hall of Fame presented by John Suchet as part of Friday Night Classics. The CBSO’s long-standing association with BBC Radio 3 also continues with selected concerts broadcast on Radio 3 in Concert.
The CBSO is committed to ensuring the widest possible audiences can enjoy the orchestra’s music, with tickets starting at £15 for full price single tickets and the implementation of a more generous discounting scheme for those booking upwards of two Season concerts at a time, meaning that the more concerts booked, the more you save. Tickets cost £5 for students and those aged under 17 and £10 for those aged 18-30, and free tickets will be available for NHS workers. The Orchestra’s Mystery Seats scheme also continues this season, offering over 3,000 tickets in non-allocated seating priced £13 each.
Further details and ticket sales can be found at cbso.co.uk.