Programmes

Our latest concert programmes - yours to download for free

Autumn 21/22

Kazuki Yamada: Mozart and Mahler

Gustav Mahler said that a symphony should be like the world, but sometimes his best music was also his gentlest. CBSO Chief Conductor and Artistic Advisor designate Kazuki Yamada conducts a symphony that begins with sleighbells and ends in heaven; first, though, award-winning soprano Fatma Said lights up the sky with Mozart’s special brand of fireworks, and Richard Strauss paints a swashbuckling portrait of music’s greatest seducer. 

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African Sanctus

“I love the world!” proclaimed David Fanshawe: composer, explorer, and creator of African Sanctus: the genre-busting masterpiece that fused western choral music with the musical traditions of East Africa. It’s a shout of joy - a song of friendship, inclusion, and the life-affirming power of music – so what better way to showcase the talents of the fabulous Ex Cathedra choir, the CBSO’s very own community choir SO Vocal, and Birmingham’s electrifying Keneish Dance?  

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Sondheim: Broadway Baby

With a career that spanned nearly 70 years, Stephen Sondheim was, and always will be, known and loved for his unforgettable melodies and fabulously smart lyrics. In an evening fittingly filled with glitz and glamour, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and a cast of incredible West End performers will pay tribute to the undisputed King of Broadway.
Presented in association with West End International.

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Sibelius: Symphony No. 2

Sibelius’ Second Symphony begins quietly - even playfully. But by the time it’s run its course, trumpets are raising the roof and the air is ringing with a melody that sweeps everything before it. It’s a thrilling climax to a concert that opens with the soul-stirring music of a forgotten English romantic, and stars the extraordinary Clara-Jumi Kang in a violin concerto that always sounds fresh.

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Viennese New Year

The new year has never been more welcome - but why fly to Vienna when the CBSO and maestro Eduardo Stausser can whirl you away with the sound of a waltz? The Blue Danube, Voices of Spring, Thunder and Lightning; elegant polkas, operetta romance and all the magic and melody of the Strauss family, served up with style in a concert that’s simply champagne for the ears – Viennese style. Prosit Neujahr!

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A Choral Christmas

Featuring the full City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and our massed choirs and performers from across the whole city and beyond, these feelgood festive favourites are overflowing with good cheer, magical sounds and seasonal music old and new, all beautifully wrapped and delivered with a smile by our special guest presenter Karthi Gnanasegaram and our world-famous Chorus Director, Simon Halsey CBE. These concerts are hugely popular, so be sure to book early and treat the whole family to a feast of festive musical magic.

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New Worlds

Grand passions, glorious tunes: Sibelius’s Finlandia and Dvořák’s New World are two classics that just never get old (even if the Hovis advert was nearly 50 years ago now!). But tonight, we’re creating new memories too, with the UK premiere of In Exile by Jonathan Dove: a heartfelt musical journey for two great British soloists, written specially for us by one of our most communicative – and brilliant – living composers.

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Centre Stage - CBSO Percussion Ensemble

A dazzling display of percussive excellence awaits at this concert, focused on repertoire from the last 30 years. Opening with Michael Daugherty's nostalgic look at the American dive bar of his youth, this programme fizzes and dances through some of the new millennium's most exciting works for percussion, before closing with a thrilling homage to the drumming of the shaman. 

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Classic FM Hall of Fame

You love ‘em – so we play ‘em! The Classic FM Hall of Fame is the definitive countdown of Britain’s favourite classical music. Swan Lake, Nimrod, The Lark Ascending…go on, admit it, you’re humming them already! John Suchet introduces the CBSO’s very own Michael Seal in a whole evening of great melodies to stir the heart and soothe the soul.

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John Wilson conducts Rachmaninoff

After Rachmaninoff left Russia for exile in America he poured all his nostalgia – and hope - into his soaring, bittersweet Third Symphony. No-one conducts this music with more flair than John Wilson: add Gershwin at his most tuneful and violinist Ning Feng in the sumptuous violin concerto by the composer they called “the Russian Mendelssohn”, and…well, this could get emotional.

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Three Trios: Bax, Weinberg and Debussy

Violence, suffering and death all colour the composition of these three trios, and yet three of Europe's most talented composers respond with chillingly beautiful works. Bax's trio is a moving tribute to friends lost in the Easter Rising, whilst Weinberg and Debussy write from within the shadows of a post-war world. Join Marie-Christine Zupacic, David BaMaung and Katherine Thomas for an intimate and sensitive performance of the works at the CBSO Centre. 

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Mirga Conducts the Cunning Little Vixen

“The forest was darker than night, but I felt free!” Deep in the Czech countryside, a forester catches a fox cub. But Vixen Sharp-Ears won’t be tamed by any man, and Janacek’s enchanting opera gives voices to humans, animals and even insects: all driven by the same irrepressible life-force. Mirga Grazinyte-Tyla and a terrific cast will put us right there in the forest – riotous, tender and utterly unforgettable.

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A Covid Requiem

We are delighted that we will be joined for this very special performance by violinist Tomo Keller (who will play-direct the first half of the concert) and Birmingham Poet Laureate 2020-2022 Casey Bailey, who will perform three of his works live.
Following the interval, Mirga leads the Orchestra and Chorus in a moment of remembrance and reflection in a performance of Fauré’s Requiem. With its calming, peaceful melodies and focus on eternal rest and consolation, this is surely a fitting tribute to all those affected by Covid-19. 

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CBSO Baroque Ensemble

Get closer to our musicians and discover one of Birmingham’s best kept musical secrets: a series of short, informal concerts programmed and introduced by our musicians at CBSO Centre.
The CBSO Baroque Ensemble is delighted to welcome Annabel Knight, of Passacaglia and the Fontanella Recorder Quintet, as a guest performer at this celebration of all things Baroque. This concert promises to be a delightful celebration of one of the CBSO's much-loved ensembles. 

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Benjamin Grosvenor plays Beethoven

When Felix Mendelssohn came to Birmingham in 1837, we welcomed him like an international superstar. He’s still a real Birmingham favourite, and his joyous Italian symphony will be like summer sunshine on a November day. But genius runs in the family; so today, as well as Beethoven’s exuberant youthful concerto (played by Benjamin Grosvenor), Marta Gardolińska conducts the only orchestral work by Felix’s sister Fanny. It’s a gem.

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CBSO Youth Orchestra plays Shostakovich

Russia, 1953: Dmitri Shostakovich knew that music could cost him his freedom, and maybe even his life. So imagine the intensity, the power and the sheer commitment that the inspirational young musicians of the CBSO Youth Orchestra will bring to his shattering Tenth Symphony. Michael Seal conducts a showpiece by Dani Howard and a dazzling rarity by Britten – because in music, you’re never too young (or old) to discover something new.

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Enchanted Evenings

A flute whispers, a harp swoons, and on a luminous surge of sound, Debussy conjures a whole, gorgeous new world. Call it impressionism, call it magic, but somehow, French composers just know how to make an orchestra sound absolutely ravishing. How to top that? Well, how about the phenomenal Kirill Gerstein playing both of Ravel’s glittering, sensuous piano concertos? Sheer indulgence…

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Carnival of the Animals!

The lion roars, the swan glides and the elephant…waltzes? In Saint-Saëns’ Carnival of the Animals, anything can happen; a truly delightful way to introduce children of all ages to the fabulous beasts of the orchestra! We’ve got a few extra surprises too, in this family concert – as composer Debbie Wiseman (Stig of the Dump / Tom’s Midnight Garden) introduces a whole new musical menagerie. Please do not feed the musicians!

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Your Song... A Tribute to Elton John

Some tunes are forever, and over 50 years after Your Song first topped the UK singles charts, the music of Sir Elton John has become the soundtrack to all our memories. From Tiny Dancer to Candle in the Wind, Circle of Life to Pinball Wizard and many, many more, the CBSO and a team of top West End vocalists present a spectacular symphonic tribute to pop’s original Rocket Man. My gift is my song, and this one's for you…

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Jess Gillam’s American Roadtrip

At just 17, Jess Gillam was the first saxophonist ever to reach the finals of BBC Young Musician – and she just keeps getting better. Today, she’s the star in Villa-Lobos’ flamboyant concerto and Milhaud’s tuneful miniature, as Jaume Santonja Espinós takes us from the dancehalls of Cuba to Copland’s leafy Appalachian mountains, on a pan-American roadtrip bursting with big tunes and even bigger personalities.

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Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet

Star-crossed lovers: when Prokofiev retold Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, the result was some of the 20th century’s most thrillingly physical music – and a gripping climax to a concert that positively buzzes with energy and emotion. When our good friend Baiba Skride plays Mozart, your enjoyment should be off the scale.

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Beethoven's Pastoral Symphony

Even Beethoven needed to relax sometimes, and from cheerful opening to serene finish, his lovely “Pastoral” symphony is pure refreshment for the spirit. It’s quite a contrast to Britten’s powerful violin concerto, performed today by the fearless James Ehnes. First, though, we’re making history: as Finnegan Downie Dear conducts the UK premiere of Cassandra Miller’s extraordinary La Donna

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Britten, Crusell and Gipps

Get closer to our musicians and discover one of Birmingham’s best kept musical secrets: a series of short, informal concerts programmed and introduced by our musicians at CBSO Centre.

A programme full of child prodigies, this concert celebrates the work of Britten, whilst highlighting the lesser-known Crusell and Gipps. Britten's Phantasy Quartet was premiered by the BBC when the composer was still just 18 years old, whilst Crusell was appointed to his first major post (as director of the regimental band) at 16. Gipps, on the other hand, eclipsed both, publishing the first of her compositions aged only 8. 

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Osborne plays Rachmaninoff

Rachmaninoff’s Third Piano Concerto has been called the “Everest of piano concertos”, but if anyone can scale its peaks, it’s Birmingham favourite Steven Osborne. Mark-Anthony Turnage is another old friend of the CBSO: he’s created a very personal 100th birthday gift, specially for us. And then Ilan Volkov conducts Brahms’ First: a symphony that begins with the pounding of a broken heart and ends in a hymn of triumph.

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Brahms String Sextet

Get closer to our musicians and discover one of Birmingham’s best kept musical secrets: a series of short, informal concerts programmed and introduced by our musicians at CBSO Centre.

Discover a hidden love note amongst the many contrasts and innovative chord sequences of Brahms' String Sextet No. 2. Made famous by the darkly humorous film 'Buffet froid', this represents some of Brahms' most fascinating work. 

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Tchaikovsky's Sixth

“Pathétique” means “full of emotion” – and make no mistake, Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No.6 is overflowing with melody, colour, and raw passion. Powerful stuff: and whether it’s Humperdinck’s fairytale magic or Chausson’s artful tracing of the course of a love affair (with Dame Sarah Connolly as soloist), our guest conductor Gustavo Gimeno will take us straight to the heart of these three pieces all first heard in 1893.

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Organ Symphony

The orchestra thunders, then pauses – and with one almighty blaze of sound, the organ lifts the roof off. Every performance of Saint-Saëns’ “Organ” symphony is a celebration, and as Kazuki Yamada, just announced as our new Chief Conductor and Artistic Advisor, launches our first full season since 2019, celebrating is exactly what we’re doing - reuniting the CBSO, our wonderful Choruses and you, our audience, for a concert that shouts to the skies: we’re back!

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