2018/19 CBSO at Symphony Hall, Birmingham

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City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra announces its 2018-19 Concert Season at

Symphony Hall, Birmingham

  • Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla curates Baltic Way – a 23-concert exploration of the culture of the Baltic states celebrating the centenary of their establishment and 30 years since their liberation
  • Kazuki Yamada is appointed as the CBSO’s new Principal Guest Conductor
  • Sir Simon Rattle returns on 28 March 2019 to conduct a fundraising concert featuring Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, and celebrating 25 years since he created the CBSO Youth and Children’s Choruses with Simon Halsey CBE
  • Latvian violinist Gidon Kremer is Artist in Residence for the season
  • UK premiere of Roxanna Panufnik’s Faithful Journey – A Mass for Poland, conducted by Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla, with Mary Bevan and the CBSO Chorus
  • Weinberg Weekend featuring Gidon Kremer and Kremerata Baltica
  • Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla conducts Mahler’s Symphony No. 2, one of the CBSO’s signature works, with the CBSO Chorus, Lucy Crowe and Karen Cargill
  • Something for everyone; Friday Night Classics concerts feature the music of Nat King Cole, music from the Harry Potter and Bond films and songs from the ‘60s. Alan Titchmarsh and Matt Baker present the CBSO’s family Choral Christmas concerts
  • Debut artists include Yuja Wang, Patricia Kopatchinskaja, Jeremy Denk, Elim Chan, Lucas and Arthur Jussen, Jan Lisiecki, Constantinos Carydis, Yulianna Avdeeva and Ray Chen
  • Over 3000 new Mystery Seats tickets available for just £13, making world-class music even more accessible

The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (CBSO) is delighted to announce its 2018-19 Concert Season at Symphony Hall, Birmingham. The new season follows an enormously successful 2017-18, about which The Guardian wrote ‘The CBSO is on a new high’, and widespread critical acclaim for its ambitious Debussy Festival curated by Osborn Music Director Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla – the largest event of its kind in the world.

The 2018-19 season features concerts and events devised and conducted by Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla marking historic events in the Baltic States, UK premieres, the return of Sir Simon Rattle for a special fundraising concert, and a wealth of international artists making their CBSO debuts. The CBSO is also delighted to welcome Kazuki Yamada as its new Principal Guest Conductor, and violinist Gidon Kremer as Artist in Residence for the season. Through its concerts as resident orchestra at Symphony Hall Birmingham and on tour around the country and internationally, the CBSO and its family of ensembles continue to be ambassadors for cultural excellence in the Midlands.

Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla comments on the CBSO 2018-19 season: ‘I am delighted to share our 18-19 season plans and look forward to taking our audiences on a true musical exploration as we perform music inspired by the different cultures of the Baltic region. I am particularly happy that my dear friend Gidon Kremer will join us as Artist in Residence and welcome Kazuki Yamada to the CBSO family’ 

The Baltic Way

Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla marks the centenary of the establishment of the Baltic states in 2018, and 30 years since their liberation in 2019, with Baltic Way, 23 themed concerts and events celebrating the music and culture of the Baltic region. Baltic Way takes its name from the historic moment in 1989 during the fall of the Iron Curtain when 2 million people joined hands and sang together across Gražinytė-Tyla’s native Lithuania and the other Baltic states.

Concerts as part of the Baltic Way include the UK premiere of Roxanna Panufnik’s Faithful Journey – A Mass For Poland, conducted by Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla. Panufnik’s father Sir Andrej Panufnik was the CBSO’s Chief Conductor in the 1950’s after fleeing Poland, and the piece – a major co-commission from the CBSO and the Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra – marks 100 years of Polish history and features soprano Mary Bevan with the CBSO Chorus. Other events include a Weinberg Weekend led by Gražinytė-Tyla and Artist in Residence Gidon Kremer, and an outdoor Baltic-style song festival at the University of Birmingham led by Gražinytė-Tyla and CBSO Chorus Director Simon Halsey CBE with the CBSO’s family of Choruses and guest choirs from around the region. On 16 February 2019 Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla marks 100 years since the creation of her native Lithuania by conducting the CBSO and CBSO Chorus in a concert featuring the UK premiere of The Sea by Lithuanian painter and composer Mikalojus Čiurlionis, accompanied by the live creation of accompanying images by Birmingham-born artist Norman Perryman.

New CBSO Principal Guest Conductor Kazuki Yamada

Since making his CBSO debut in 2012, conductor Kazuki Yamada has become a firm favourite with audiences at Symphony Hall and has toured with the Orchestra to his native Japan. The CBSO is therefore delighted to announce his appointment as Principal Guest Conductor. Yamada begins his tenure with three concerts in 2018-19, conducting works by composers including Bernstein, Ravel, Prokofiev, Tchaikovsky and Mozart.

Rattle conducts Beethoven’s Ninth

Former CBSO Music Director Sir Simon Rattle makes a welcome return on 28 March 2019 for a special fundraising concert featuring Beethoven’s Symphony No.9. The concert will also celebrate 25 years since Sir Simon and CBSO Chorus Director Simon Halsey CBE founded the CBSO Youth and Children’s Choruses, and both ensembles take centre stage in the first half of the programme. The CBSO Chorus and soloists Iwona Sobotka, Chrystal E. Williams, Joshua Stuart and Eric Greene then join the CBSO for Beethoven’s unmistakeable Symphony No.9. All guest artists, including Sir Simon, are generously performing for free with all concert proceeds going to support the CBSO’s artistic projects and education work.

Artist in Residence Gidon Kremer

Legendary Latvian violinist Gidon Kremer is the CBSO’s Artist in Residence this season at the invitation of Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla, having been close collaborators for many years. He begins his residency by performing Bartók’s Violin Concerto No.1 in the season’s opening concert under conductor Omer Meir Wellber. Kremer explores the music of Polish-Russian composer Mieczysław Weinberg throughout the season, performing his Violin Concerto under Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla, and together they lead a Weinberg Weekend with Kremer bringing Kremarata Baltica – the renowned chamber orchestra which he founded – to perform with the CBSO at Symphony Hall and give a special concert with Kremer at Town Hall. During the weekend Kremer also performs Weinberg’s unaccompanied 24 Preludes at CBSO Centre, before a changing backdrop by Lithuanian photographer Antanus Sutkus.

The CBSO’s family of Choruses

The CBSO’s Youth and Children’s Choruses were formed by Sir Simon Rattle and Simon Halsey in 1994, and the CBSO will celebrate this 25-year anniversary in the first half of a special fundraising concert on 28 March 2019. The programme also features the CBSO Chorus in Beethoven’s Symphony No.9. Other performances by the CBSO Chorus in the 2018-19 season include Mahler’s Symphony No.2 (Resurrection), the UK premiere of Roxanna Panufnik’s Faithful Journey – A Mass for Poland and the UK premiere of Čiurlionis’ The Sea. Birmingham University Singers join the CBSO Chorus for Walton’s Belshazzar’s Feast under John Wilson, and CBSO Associate Conductor Michael Seal conducts the CBSO Chorus in the Classic FM Hall of Fame.

The CBSO Chorus and Youth Chorus perform in two concerts at the BBC Proms 2018 with the CBSO and the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and the CBSO’s community choir SO Vocal join the other choruses for A Choral Christmas and the open-air Baltic-style Song Festival. The CBSO Chorus, Youth Chorus and Children’s Chorus close the season with Berlioz’s The Damnation of Faust under Edward Gardner.

Friday Night Classics

The CBSO’s hugely popular Friday Night Classics concerts see the CBSO musicians showcasing their versatility in performing orchestral music from a variety of genres. Concerts this season include a celebration of Nat King Cole marking the centenary of his birth, songs from the ’60s, music from the Harry Potter and James Bond movies, classic rock from West End musicals and classical music from Hollywood blockbusters.  The festive season gets off to a swinging start with West End vocalists joining the CBSO for Christmas Swing, and the CBSO Chorus join conductor Michael Seal and presenter John Suchet for the Classic FM Hall of Fame.

Guest Artists

Internationally-renowned artists making their CBSO debuts this season include pianists Yuja Wang, Jeremy Denk, Jan Lisiecki, Lucas and Arthur JussenYulianna Avdeeva and Alexander Gavrylyuk; and violinists Augustin Hadelich, Ray Chen, Patricia Kopatchinskaja and Sergej Krylov. Debut conductors include Elim ChanConstantinos CarydisStanislav Kochanovsky, Tianyi Lui and conductor/oboist François Leleux, who play-directs a programme at Town Hall Birmingham.

Returning guest soloists include cellists Steven Isserlis and Paul Watkins; violinists Baiba SkrideJames EhnesBenjamin BeilmanJennifer Pike and Christian Tetzlaff; pianists Rudolf BuchbinderSteven OsborneBenjamin Grosvenor and Stephen Hough; mezzo Karen Cargill, soprano Mary Bevan and baritone Christopher Maltman. Returning conductors include Sir Simon Rattle, new Principal Guest Conductor Kazuki Yamada, and Edward GardnerVassily SinaiskyAlpesh ChauhanOmer Meir WellberJohn Wilson, Michael SealStephen Bell and Jac van Steen.

Young people at the heart of the CBSO’s work

The CBSO has an ongoing commitment to showcase and nurture the talents of young musicians and to present concerts for all age groups. The CBSO Youth Orchestra – one of Europe’s leading Youth Orchestras – perform Copland’s Symphony No.3 and Szymanowski’s Violin Concerto No.1 under conductor Cristian Măcelaru and Shostakovich’s Symphony No.7 (Leningrad) and Britten’s Sinfonia da Requiem under the baton of Michael Seal.The CBSO Youth Chorus also perform in two concerts at the BBC Proms under Ludovic Morlotand Andris Nelsons.

The CBSO continues to collaborate with young people throughout the city, providing talented musicians from Royal Birmingham Conservatoire the opportunity to present pre-concert performances at Symphony Hall. The CBSO’s Learning and Engagement projects continue to reach over 16,000 school pupils per year throughout the city, with the CBSO’s musicians working alongside children from all backgrounds.

Following the success of the CBSO’s annual Key Stage 2 and 3 concerts at Symphony Hall, concerts for Key Stage 1 school pupils are reintroduced this season at CBSO Centre, for pupils aged 5-7. The CBSO’s annual Key Stage 2 and 3 school’s concerts at Symphony Hall are performed in front of up to 12,000 local pupils from ages 7 – 14 and this season are conducted by Michael Seal and the CBSO’s new Assistant Conductor and presented by Catherine Arlidge and Tom Redmond. CBSO’s successful relaxed concerts for children and young people with special educational needs will also return in Spring 2019.

Family Concerts at Symphony Hall are suitable for ages 5-11, which this season feature Sounds of the Sea conducted by Timothy Redmond, a Musical Mystery trail conducted by Tianyi Lui (both presented by Tom Redmond), and Travels Through Time, conducted by Michael Seal and presented by Catherine Arlidge. Tickets include free pre-concert craft activities in the foyer of Symphony Hall. For younger children, 15 Notelets concerts 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.

World-class music accessible to everyone

The CBSO announces a new discounted ticket scheme for the 2018-19 season, called Mystery Seats. Over 3000 tickets will be available across the season for selected concerts priced at just £13. By booking a mystery seat, audience members will be guaranteed entry to the concert, but won’t know where they will be sitting until the day of the performance. This means all seats will be worth at least £19.50 but audiences could get lucky with a top-price ticket.

The Groups offer has been extended for the new season, to enable groups of 8 or more to benefit from the 20% discount on full price tickets, plus other benefits.

The CBSO remains committed to ensuring there are opportunities for people to experience great music regardless of financial barriers. Children aged 17 and under, school groups and benefit recipients can attend concerts from just £6, and students can also purchase tickets from just £6 via the Student Pulse Birmingham mobile app. Tickets for young professionals aged between 18 -30 are £10 for selected concerts and across the season a wide range of discounts and benefits can be unlocked by purchasing concert packages.

CBSO at summer festivals

The CBSOCBSO Chorus and CBSO Youth Chorus perform at the BBC Proms on 15 August. The programme brings repertoire from the CBSO’s recent successful Debussy Festival to the Royal Albert Hall. This all-French programme, which also features Ravel’s Bolero, is conducted by Ludovic Morlot and features guest mezzo-soprano Justina Gringytė. Also at the BBC Proms, the CBSO Youth Chorus and the female singers of the CBSO Chorus perform Mahler’s Symphony No.3 with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and Andris Nelsonson 2 September. The CBSO returns to Sutton Park on 30 June for an open-air concert, and will perform a programme including Schubert Symphonies No. 5 & 8 with Edward Gardnerat the Lichfield Festival on 6 July. The CBSO and Ludovic Morlot take Debussy, Stravinsky and Ravel to the Edinburgh International Festival on 17 August at Usher Hall, and the Orchestra appears at the Lucerne Festival with Omer Meir Wellber and Gidon Kremer on 15 September.

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 will be broadcast live on BBC Radio 3 on 15 August, as will the CBSO Chorus and Youth Chorus’s Prom with the Boston Symphony Orchestra on 2 September.

Classic FM’s Orchestra in the Midlands

The CBSO is proud to continue its partnership with Classic FM, the UK’s most popular classical music station, as its Orchestra in the Midlands. As part of Friday Night Classics, the Classic FM Hall of Fame returns on 16 November 2018 presented by John Suchet, and on 12 April 2019 classical music from the movies takes centre stage in Classic FM’s Movie Classics.

Lunchtime Chamber Music at CBSO Centre and CBSO+ free pre-concert events

The Osborn Chamber Music Programme Centre Stage concerts at CBSO Centre are informal lunchtime chamber music concerts presenting works ranging from the baroque to the 20th Century. These concerts are programmed by the CBSO musicians themselves and are a lunchtime treat in the centre of Birmingham. 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 Royal Birmingham Conservatoire.

Full season details can be found at www.cbso.co.uk

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