On 9 June 2019, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (CBSO) presents its first Song Festival, the culmination of a weekend of events that mark the opening of Green Heart, twelve acres of parkland space in the centre of the University of Birmingham campus. A day of mass singing open to everyone, it is inspired by CBSO Music Director Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla’s first-hand experience of the Baltic song festivals, where thousands of people gather in the open air to celebrate their community in song.
The CBSO Song Festival will bring together the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and CBSO Chorus, CBSO SO Vocal, Birmingham Summer Festival Voices and guest choirs, with amateur individuals, established choirs and choral societies across the country also encouraged to participate. Following a morning of rehearsals with Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla and Chorus Director Simon Halsey, the groups will take to the stage from 1.30pm to showcase the variety and talent of singing from across the UK, in a series of afternoon concerts compèred by CBSO regular Tom Redmond.
The celebrations will be brought to a finale in the evening, with all the singers coming together as a single massed choir to perform an exciting programme of British and Baltic music alongside Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla and the CBSO, with renditions of orchestral and choral favourites including Stravinsky’s The Firebird, Handel’s Zadok the Priest and Parry’s Jerusalem.
CBSO Chorus Director Simon Halsey CBE commented “The CBSO, indeed Birmingham itself, has been famous for choral singing for many years so it only seems appropriate that we should pioneer the introduction of a Baltic -style song Festival in our wonderful musical city. Singing crosses many boundaries and brings people together and we aim to have a memorable day in the handsome new open spaces at the University of Birmingham!”
Singers and choir leaders are invited to book their tickets to participate by calling the THSH box office on 0121 780 3333. These tickets cost £13 and include all digital music learning materials sent in advance. Audiences can attend any part of the Song Festival for free.
The CBSO Song Festival is the closing event of the Baltic Way series in the CBSO’s 2018-19 concert season; an exploration of the music and culture of the Baltic states on the centenary of their establishment and 30 years since their liberation.