Try something new with the CBSO

Classical first-timers start here.

Are you a classical music novice who thinks they’d like to dip a toe in the water? Maybe you’re a fan of West End musicals or rock music and don’t think classical is your cup of tea? Or perhaps you’re worried about coming to a classical music performance because you’re not sure when to clap? If you answered yes to any of those questions, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra is here to help.

As it nears its centenary in 2020, the CBSO has an international reputation as a world-class orchestra, performing around 130 concerts per year for over 200,000 people and is always finding ways to share its passion and excellence with new audiences. The 2014-15 concert season at Symphony Hall, Birmingham is peppered with offerings to tempt those as yet undecided on their classical music opinion.

The Friday Night Classics series offers the perfect opportunity to hear some of your favourite tunes – from West End hits and TV themes to rock and pop anthems – performed by the Orchestra in the stunning surroundings of Symphony Hall. You may struggle to tell your Brahms from your Bruckner but Sousa’s Liberty Bell (Monty Python) or Ravel’s Boléro (Dancing on Ice) should elicit a warm feeling of recognition as you hear them and many other familiar tunes at TV and Advert Classics on 24th October.

Or why not join the CBSO and an all-star West End cast to get down and groovy for Songs from the Sixties on 21st November. Best of the West End on 30 January 2015 will include songs from Chicago, Wicked, The Lion King and many more well-loved musicals. March features modern film music in 21st Century Blockbusters on Thursday 6 and goes out like a lion, not a lamb, on the 27 with Queen – Rock and Symphonic Spectacular. This full orchestral showpiece with guest vocalists from the hit musical We Will Rock You is a night not to be missed by Queen fans.

If you’re interested in learning more about key composers, or trying something new, why not try Bartók Uncovered on 16th October or Shostakovich Uncovered on 11th February 2015. Composer, presenter and music educationalist Paul Rissmann will present both concerts and use illustrations, anecdotes and the full CBSO to unlock the stories behind the music before a complete live performance. These concerts are just £20 a ticket, and are a great way to find out more about the history behind these great works.

If you fancy a lunchtime treat then the friendly series of Centre Stage concerts put on by the CBSO players themselves are a great introduction to classical music. These chamber music concerts are held in the informal surroundings of CBSO Centre on Berkley Street. The atmosphere is relaxed and light lunches are available in the bar beforehand. There are a number of Centre Stage performances scheduled until June 2015, so check the website for further details.

The CBSO website also features a First Timers’ Guide for those considering an inaugural visit to a concert. The guide includes information on all sorts of things, from when to clap to what to wear, and is intended to remove some of the anxiety a first-time visitor may experience. The guide can be found here

For further information and booking details for all CBSO concerts, visit

5 thoughts on “Try something new with the CBSO

  1. When to clap – rules very simple.
    1. Only clap if you thought it was good (or you want to be tactful anyway).
    2. If you’re a newby, just don’t clap until everyone else is anyway.
    3. Don’t clap during the music unless you’ve paid more than £299 for a ticket.
    4. Anyone clapping between movements will be shamed on youtube and refused future admission (except at the london proms where any old nonsense goes).

  2. Seriously and more importantly, if you go to a classical performance, why is the average age of the audience somewhere over 65? This music needs to be re invented for anyone not getting a pension. Or else it will turn into a museum piece

  3. >”the average age of the audience somewhere over 65? This music needs to be re invented for anyone not getting a pension.”

    That’s a non-sequitur (or for young people a false reasoning). In similar non-sequitur would be:
    “Few people do morris dancing or water polo, so therefore morris dancing and water polo need to be re-invented.” or “Few people support Billesley Park Football Club so therefore BPFC needs to be re-invented.”

    >”why is the average age of the audience somewhere over 65?”
    You seem to be asking a question there but then you jump to a false assumption that the answer is that the music hasn’t been sufficiently “re-invented”. How about first considering the proper answer to the question. In the past 40 years there has been a huge growth of corporate commercially-promoted entertainment. Such commercial consumerism thrives on the latest thing followed by the next latest thing. If your mom already has Bach’s sinfonia xx then you don’t need to get it for yourself as well, and he isn’t making any more to add to sales. Any reduced attention to “classical” music has nothing to to with the music (or its presentation) itself. Changing the music or how it is presented would most likely result in even less interest in it due to a pseudically-imposed layer of “re-invention” which would certainly put myself off.

    Furthermore young people are tending to find their entertainments via screens and keyboards. They download music instead. “Classical” music on youtube is huge. Meanwhile sitting in concerts has been widely drivelled about in the media as supposedly stuffy snobby not for our type of people events.

    Meanwhile, 50 million children are learning to play the piano in China. I doubt if that’s because pianos or piano-teaching have been “re-invented” over there.

    “Classical” music ain’t broke and it certainly doesn’t need fixing. “Re-inventing” it is the last thing it needs to make it more popular.

  4. Also it has been far from helped by the growth of in-your-face videos of performances. Symphonies were most definitely not conceived as music-videos of waving clarinets, throbbing cello-bows, and hammering drumsticks. Orchestras were designed to be heard and not seen. Unfortunately younger people have become trained into a screen-watching mentality.

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