CBSO Youth Orchestra to premiere new work


World first for groundbreaking young composer.

On Sunday 23rd February, the CBSO Youth Orchestra – the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra’s acclaimed symphony orchestra for 14-21 year olds – makes history.  Jac van Steen conducts the world premiere of Black Rainbow, a new orchestral work by the young British composer Charlotte Bray in Symphony Hall, Birmingham – the city where she discovered her passion for composing.

Black Rainbow, is Bray’s second work for full orchestra, and takes its inspiration from the landscape of New Hampshire, USA, and a beautiful but very rare meteorological phenomenon. It was commissioned for the CBSO Youth Orchestra by the Feeney Trust – the latest in a long line of CBSO/Feeney Trust commissions that includes Tippett’s Piano Concerto, Turnage’s Three Screaming Popes and Thomas Adès’ Asyla. It’s the first item in a challenging programme, which will also include Stokowski’s rarely-heard but wonderfully effective “Symphonic Synthesis” of Wagner’ Tristan und Isolde and Strauss’ breath taking Also sprach Zarathustra: the CBSO Youth Orchestra’s first encounter with Richard Strauss.  Directed by the renowned Dutch conductor Jac Van Steen – who enjoys a special rapport with this young orchestra – the concert follows a week-long intensive training programme during which the orchestra’s 110 players will receive individual coaching from members of the CBSO.

CBSO ensembles manager Richard Bratby explains: “The CBSO Youth Orchestra meets just three times a year, and the aim is to give these young musicians a professional-level experience. It’s hugely inclusive – the only entry requirements are ability and commitment – and for just £75 per course, they get to perform challenging repertoire with some of the world’s best soloists, conductors and composers. They play repertoire that would challenge even professional orchestras, and of course contemporary music is a hugely important part of that. Thanks to the Feeney Trust, the CBSO Youth Orchestra has already commissioned and premiered new works by Tansy Davies, Luke Bedford and Ben Foskett, and it’ll be giving the UK premiere of Mark Anthony Turnage’s Passchendaele in autumn 2014.

“But Black Rainbow is something very special for us. Charlotte’s At The Speed of Stillness drew a lot of praise at the 2012 BBC Proms, but she has creative roots here in Birmingham.Like a lot of our Youth Orchestra members, Charlotte studied at Birmingham Conservatoire, and she was later one of BCMG’s Apprentice Composers in Residence. She’s an extraordinary new voice, and we were thrilled to commission her for the CBSO Youth Orchestra.”

Tickets are available from Symphony Hall or Town Hall box offices in person, by phone: 0121 780 3333, or