University of Birmingham Partnership

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The partnership between the CBSO and the University of Birmingham builds on the choral traditions of both organisations under the direction of Simon Halsey CBE. 

The CBSO provides practical support and opportunities for the MA in Choral Conducting, as well as performance opportunities alongside the orchestra at Symphony Hall for at least one of the University's many choruses each year. 

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MA in Choral Conducting

Since 2012 the CBSO has been working in partnership with the University of Birmingham to deliver a MA in Choral Conducting, led by Simon Halsey, who has been the CBSO’s Chorus Director since 1983, and in 2012 became the Professor and Director of Choral Activities at the University of Birmingham. Working with four students each year, this course supports the development of he best young choral conductors from across the world, through a programme of academic study and practical teaching led by Simon Halsey and the CBSO’s Associate Chorus Director Julian Wilkins

The MA students’ membership of the CBSO Chorus is an integral part of their course, providing opportunities not only to sing with one of the world’s leading symphonic choruses, but to experience rehearsing and performing alongside the CBSO and other orchestras under internationally renowned conductors - most recently these have included Andris Nelsons, Edward Gardner and Sir Simon Rattle.

The MA students’ experience with the CBSO extends to leading sectional rehearsals for the CBSO Chorus, as well as supporting our wider family of choruses including working with the CBSO Youth Chorus and our community choir SO Vocal. These opportunities are alongside working with the many choirs offered by the University of Birmingham, and being able to provide students with this breadth of conducting experience is a crucial element of this course. 

More information about the University of Birmingham’s MA in Choral Conducting can be found here.

Performance Opportunities

Every CBSO season now includes at least one performance featuring one of the University of Birmingham’s exceptional choruses. This is a unique opportunity for University of Birmingham students to work alongside one of the world’s greatest symphony orchestras, and work with internationally renowned conductors on repertoire that wouldn’t often be performed by University choruses.

The most recent collaboration between the CBSO and the University of Birmingham Voices was a concert performance of Gilbert and Sullivan's The Yeomen of the Guard with conductor John Wilson.