- Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla to conduct an ambitious series of 26 concerts, working with the whole CBSO family, curating an internationally-significant Debussy Festival in March 2018, and conducting his opera Pelléas et Mélisande
- Clarinettist, composer and conductor Jörg Widmann is Artist in Residence for the season
- A strengthened commitment to new music with six premieres, including the world premiere of Gerald Barry’s Organ Concerto conducted by Thomas Adès
- The CBSO Chorus performs Haydn’s The Creation, Fauré’s Requiem and works by Lili Boulanger with Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla
- BBC Young Musician 2016 Sheku Kanneh-Mason makes his CBSO debut conducted by Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla
- Debut artists include Yeol Eum Son, Ning Feng, Rafal Blechacz, Xavier de Maistre, Jérémie Rhorer, Constantinos Carydis, Joana Mallwitz and Leo McFall.
- Friday Night Classics concerts include the music of David Bowie, Abba, Star Wars, and the Best of Bollywood
- The CBSO continues to offer accessible world class music for all, with an additional 1700 tickets available under £25, and tickets for young audiences from just £6
The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (CBSO) is delighted to announce its 2017-18 Concert Season at Symphony Hall, Birmingham. 'One of Europe's best orchestras' (The Economist, 2016), the CBSO is a cultural flagship organisation for the Midlands and every year shares its world-class music-making with over 200,000 concertgoers in Birmingham, around the UK and worldwide. Led by Osborn Music Director Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla (‘conducting’s next superstar’ The Telegraph) the CBSO’s 2017-18 season shares the talents and ambition of the entire CBSO family of ensembles with the widest possible audience.
Osborn Music Director Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla
Following her critically-acclaimed inaugural season as Music Director, Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla demonstrates her versatility in 2017-18 by leading every aspect of the Orchestra’s work; conducting Schools and Family concerts, working with the CBSO family of ensembles including its Chorus, Youth Orchestra and Youth and Children’s Choruses, and conducting a visionary series of evening and matinée concerts at Symphony Hall.
Highlights include two performances of Haydn’s The Creation with the CBSO Chorus to open the season, and concerts featuring Mahler’s 1st and 4th Symphonies, Brahms’ 1st Symphony, Fauré’s Requiem and Beethoven’s 5th (her previous performance of which The Times described as ‘an ecstatic performance’ in January 2017). She will close the season with Stravinsky’s revolutionary The Rite of Spring.
Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla has invited acclaimed international artists including harpist Xavier de Maistre, violinist Ning Feng and pianist Rafal Blechacz to make their debuts with her and the CBSO. Exciting young cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason, BBC Young Musician 2016, also makes his CBSO debut with Gražinytė-Tyla for a performance of Shostakovich’s Cello Concerto No.1.
Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla comments on the CBSO 2017-18 season ‘Birmingham is my new musical home, and the CBSO and our audiences my new musical family. During the next season, I look forward to working with all members of the CBSO’s extensive family of ensembles as well as many colleagues and friends. The theme of our Debussy Festival is ‘In Search of Beauty’ which describes the journey we shall embark upon together through music and throughout the entire season. We shall look to find beauty in our daily life, and discover one another on this musical adventure. As I begin my second season together with the CBSO, I am excited and I can’t wait to get started.‘
Debussy Festival, 17-18 March and 24-25 March 2018
To mark the centenary of Debussy’s death, Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla has curated a major celebration of his work across two weekends, inspired by the composer’s search for beauty, his vision and influences, and the music he inspired. The festival includes all his major works with complementary pieces by composers with a strong connection to Debussy’s music, to be performed over two weekends in March 2018. In addition to six themed orchestral concerts at Symphony Hall, there will also be a series of chamber music concerts from CBSO musicians at CBSO Centre, and Birmingham Conservatoire musicians will perform Debussy piano music and songs in the new Conservatoire.
The Debussy Festival is the largest-scale artistic collaboration to-date between the CBSO, Town Hall Symphony Hall, Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, Birmingham Conservatoire and the University of Birmingham. As a coda to the Debussy Festival, Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla will also conduct the CBSO’s first-ever performance of Debussy’s only completed opera Pelléas et Mélisande in June 2018, with an outstanding international cast.
Artist in Residence Jörg Widmann
Musical polymath Jörg Widmann – a celebrated composer, conductor and clarinettist – joins the CBSO as Artist in Residence for the 2017-18 season at the invitation of Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla.
Widmann’s tenure showcases the many elements of his musicianship, and marks his CBSO debut both as a conductor and clarinettist. During his residency he will perform as a concerto soloist, play chamber music, collaborate with Birmingham Contemporary Music Group and conduct the CBSO in performances of his own compositions as well as music by Weber and Mozart.
A strengthened commitment to new music
This season sees the CBSO perform six premieres and a range of other music by living composers, reaffirming the orchestra’s longstanding commitment to developing the future of orchestral music. Highlights include the world premiere of Gerald Barry’sOrgan Concerto, co-commissioned by the CBSO and conducted by Thomas Adès with Birmingham’s City Organist Thomas Trotter as soloist. At the BBC Proms, Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla will conduct the CBSO in the world premiere of Gerald Barry’s Canada. UK premieres include Kaija Saariaho’s Trans (harp concerto) and Onutė Narbutaitė‘s La barca both conducted byMirga Gražinytė-Tyla, Simon Holt’s Surcos, co-commissioned with the Berlin Philharmonic and conducted by Ilan Volkov, and the English premiere of Jörg Widmann’s Babylon Suite. Contemporary works conducted by their composers include JörgWidmann’s Con brio and 180 beats per minute and Thomas Adès’s Polaris. Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla will also conduct George Benjamin’s Ringed by the flat horizon.
Friday Night Classics
The CBSO’s ever-popular ‘Friday Night Classics’ concerts celebrate the best orchestral music from a range of genres. The series launches with Classic FM’s Smooth Classics, conducted by Associate Conductor Michael Seal and presented by Classic FM’s John Brunning, and continues with John Williams’s music from the first seven Star Wars films, again conducted by Seal and featuring the CBSO Chorus. A party atmosphere will take over Symphony Hall with the Abba Symphonic Spectacular, and in December Christmas at the Movies will be a seasonal treat suitable for all the family. Michael Seal also conducts The Classic FM Movie Music Hall of Fame, presented by Tommy Pearson. An array of guest singers perform anOpera Gala under conductor Stephen Bell, and West End vocalists join the CBSO and conductor Michael England to celebrate the 70th birthday of Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber in Best of the West End. The late David Bowie is celebrated in March 2018, and the fiftieth anniversary of a great musical year is marked in April in What a Wonderful World, featuring the songs and film music of 1968. The First Ladies of Swing are showcased by Clare Teal in May, and the series concludes in June 2018 with the Best of Bollywood, featuring classic Bollywood film music accompanied by dancers from Sampad South Asian Dance.
The season sees a wealth of guest artists making their CBSO debuts and others making a welcome return. Edward Gardner returns to conduct the CBSO Orchestra and Chorus with soloists Natalya Romaniw, Karen Cargill, Gwyn Hughes Jones and Brindley Sherratt in Verdi’s Requiem, and Birmingham’s own Alpesh Chauhan returns to conduct violinist Nicola Benedetti and cellist Leonard Elschenbroich in an all-Brahms programme for this year’s CBSO Benevolent Fund Concert.
Conductors coming to Symphony Hall to direct the CBSO for the first time include Jérémie Rhorer, Leo McFall, Joana Mallwitz, Constantinos Carydis, Harish Shankar and Reinhard Goebel. Debut artists include pianists Yeol Eum Son andRafal Blechacz, violinists Ning Feng and Mirijam Contzen and harpist Xavier de Maistre. Returning guest artists this season include violinists Tasmin Little, Vilde Frang and Baiba Skride; pianists Rudolf Buchbinder, Simon Trpčeski, Freddy Kempf, and Francesco Piemontesi; cellists Johannes Moser and Alisa Weilerstein; sopranos Natalya Romaniw and Sophie Bevan; mezzo-soprano Dame Felicity Palmer; tenor Noah Stuart and bass Matthew Best. Returning guest conductors include Nicholas Collon, John Wilson, Vassily Sinaisky, Thomas Adès,Ludovic Morlot, Jac van Steen and Ilan Volkov. Chorus Director Simon Halsey CBE will lead the CBSO’s annual Singalong, and Christmas concerts with the CBSO Choruses.
Young people at the heart of the CBSO’s work
Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla continues to ensure young people are at the heart of her work with the orchestra, conducting a Family Concert and concerts for up to 4,000 Key Stage 2 schoolchildren, working with the CBSO Youth Orchestra for the first time, and collaborating with the CBSO’s renowned Youth and Children’s Choruses in concerts featuring music by Debussy and Bizet. The CBSO Youth Chorus will also perform in Holst’s The Planets at the BBC Proms under conductor John Wilson.
The talents of young musicians – including Birmingham Conservatoire students and participants in CBSO Learning & Engagement projects – are showcased through a series of free pre-concert performances. In March 2018 Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla will conduct Birmingham Conservatoire Symphony Orchestra, marking the official opening of the new £57 million Birmingham Conservatoire with the Gala Opening Concert.
The CBSO will present 28 concerts specially designed for young audience members. Family Concerts for primary aged children continue throughout the season, with free pre-concert craft activities in the foyer of Symphony Hall. Highlights includeMyths and Legends in October, conducted by CBSO Assistant Conductor Jonathan Bloxham and presented by Tom Redmond. Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla conducts Debussy: Children’s Corner, as part of the Debussy Festival and in May 2018Family Film Favourites features music from Frozen, The Lion King and Mary Poppins, amongst others. The CBSO’s annual Schools’ Concerts at Symphony Hall in 2018 see the Orchestra perform for local Key Stage 2 and 3 pupils under the batons ofMirga Gražinytė-Tyla and Michael Seal. For younger children, CBSO’s Notelets series for under-5s provide a toddler-friendly interactive introduction to classical music, combining music with story-telling and presented in the intimate surroundings of CBSO Centre.
Music for everyone
The CBSO continues to take music outside Symphony Hall to the people of Birmingham, making its performances as accessible as possible. Last season saw the Orchestra reaching thousands of local people by performing free pop-up concerts around the city, including a concert in Birmingham New Street Station. This season, the CBSO will return to the station for free performances as part of Birmingham Weekender 2017. An expanded programme of ‘relaxed’ concerts will include performances for 800 children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities, and a performance for people living with dementia and their families, friends and carers complementing the orchestra’s visits to local care homes.
The CBSO is committed to ensuring the widest possible audiences can enjoy the Orchestra’s music, with tickets starting at £13 for concerts in Symphony Hall and an additional 1700 tickets under £25 made available this year. Under 17’s, school groups and benefit recipients can attend concerts from just £6, and students in higher education can also purchase tickets from just £6 via the Student Pulse Birmingham mobile app. Tickets for young professionals aged between 18 -30 are just £10 for selected concerts and across the season a wide range of discounts and benefits can be unlocked by purchasing concert packages.
CBSO on tour
Following a headline-grabbing debut with the CBSO in 2016, Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla will once again conduct the CBSO at theBBC Proms, in a programme centred around Beethoven’s Symphony No.5 and featuring the world premiere of Gerald Barry’sCanada. The CBSO Chorus perform in two concerts at the BBC Proms, firstly for the European Premiere of James MacMillan’s A European Requiem with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales under Xian Zhang, and for Schoenberg’sGurrelieder with the London Symphony Orchestra under Sir Simon Rattle. Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla and the Orchestra will also perform at the Aldeburgh Festival in 2017 presenting the UK premiere ofJörg Widmann’s Viola Concerto, and will open the Cheltenham Music Festival with Jan Lisiecki performing Chopin’s Piano Concerto.
Outside the UK, an expanded international touring programme with Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla includes performances at Lucerne Festival, the Elphilharmonie in Hamburg and the prestigious Musikverein in Vienna. At Dublin’s National Concert Hall in August, cellist Gautier Capuçon joins the CBSO and Gražinytė-Tyla to perform Elgar’s Cello Concerto in E minor, as part of the venue’s International Concert Series.
BBC Radio 3 in Concert
The CBSO’s long-standing association with BBC Radio 3 continues throughout the season, with selected concerts being broadcast on Radio 3 in Concert. The CBSO’s Prom with Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla will also be broadcast live on BBC Radio 3 on 21 August, and later televised on BBC4 on 27 August. The CBSO Chorus’s performances at the BBC Proms will be broadcast live on BBC Radio 3 on 30 July and 19 August, and televised on BBC4 on 30 July and 3 September respectively.
Classic FM’s Orchestra in the Midlands
The CBSO is proud to be Classic FM’s Orchestra in the Midlands and its partnership with the UK’s most popular classical music station continues to go from strength to strength. Classic FM’s Live Music Month, on-air throughout April as part of the station’s 25th birthday celebrations, featured a week of broadcasts of CBSO concerts. The new season will see exclusive content available on ClassicFM.com and social media, plus selected concerts from the CBSO season at Symphony Hall will be broadcast in The Full Works Concert, weeknights from 8pm to 10pm on Classic FM.
Get Closer to the Music
The Osborn Chamber Music Programme Centre Stage concerts continue in 2017-18. These informal lunchtime chamber music concerts present works ranging from the baroque to the 20th Century, and are programmed by the CBSO musicians themselves and performed at the orchestra’s home the CBSO Centre. CBSO+ free pre-concert events form an integral part of the season, 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 young musicians from Birmingham Conservatoire.