Programmes

Our latest concert programmes - yours to download for free

21/22


Happy Birthday John Williams!

Celebrate the magic and the music of John Williams this August and join the CBSO as they wish a very happy 90th birthday to one of the most popular composers of all time. The genius of John Williams has touched countless lives through his music for films such as Star Wars, Harry Potter, Jaws, ET, Schindler’s List – and many more – and the CBSO will be performing a selection of amazing music from all of them this evening. 

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Kazuki Yamada conducts Rachmaninoff Symphony No. 2

True romance: with its epic sweep and soaring melodies, Rachmaninoff’s Second Symphony is one of Kazuki Yamada’s personal favourites, but there’s a whole world of buried passion in the beautiful Double Concerto by Dame Ethel Smyth, too. With soloists Ben Goldscheider and Elena Urioste, expect big emotions and even bigger tunes – plus Glinka’s firecracker overture, to light the fuse. 

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Youth Orchestra Academy: A Fist Full of Fives

When classical composers encounter the number five, something surprising happens – whether it’s the teenage Mozart cutting loose in his most flamboyant violin concerto, or Beethoven shaking his fist at fate in the greatest Fifth Symphony of all time. British composer Adrian Sutton provides the key, and Greek master Nikos Skalkottas provides the rhythm, as the fantastic young players of the CBSO Youth Orchestra Academy take five tonight.

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CBSO SO Vocal 10 Year Celebration

The CBSO's community choir, SO Vocal, is one of the most vibrant forces in Birmingham's musical life - with singers of all ages across Selly Oak and beyond, brought together by the power of music. Joined by the CBSO Youth, Children’s, and Junior Children’s Choruses, today SO Vocal celebrate 10 years of music making, with exhilarating music conducted by Ula Weber. Come and celebrate the sheer joy of singing: everyone is welcome!

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Simply Schubert

Who better than Schubert to provide sumptuous music for a summer’s evening and how better to begin than with an overture?  In this case, it’s from his rarely performed deeply Romantic opera, Fierrabras. His first Symphony (famously composed when he was just 16) then takes centre stage. A lovely, enchanting piece it is very much in contrast to his fourth, a dramatic stormy work in which Mozart’s masterful influence can clearly be heard.

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Stanford's Requiem

Once upon a time in Birmingham, crowds gathered to hear the first performance of the Requiem by Charles Villiers Stanford - commissioned by the legendary Triennial Festival, who went on to premiere Elgar's The Dream of Gerontius just three years later. 125 years on, we join forces with the University of Birmingham Voices to bring a forgotten masterpiece back home: prepare to be surprised, prepare to be impressed - but above all, prepare to be moved. 

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Cello Ensemble

Mstislav Rostropovich described the cello as a ‘hero’ because of the wide variety of tones and effects the instrument could produce. Our cello section is certainly putting it to the test! From Dvořák to Warlock and Piazzola to Shostakovich, this performance offers musical gems for all tastes.  

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Season Finale: Mahler's Resurrection

We played it when Symphony Hall opened, and when Sir Simon Rattle said farewell; our recording has won international awards and our Chorus has sung it around the world. But in the CBSO family, it's always a special occasion when we perform Mahler's mighty "Resurrection" Symphony. It's a masterpiece that we love, and have made our own. Bring a handkerchief - or two. 

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Patricia Kopatchinskaja: Shostakovich

Fans call her "PatKop", and violinist Patricia Kopatchinskaja attracts a passionate following wherever she plays. Adventurous, innovative and dazzlingly gifted, she makes every note an adventure. Hear for yourself, as she performs Shostakovich's gripping First Violin Concerto; and discover our powerful new commission from Icelandic composer Anna Thorvaldsdottir - it's already been hailed as a masterpiece. 

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Wednesday 15 June, 6.15pm: Pre-Concert Performance

You are warmly invited to a free pre-concert performance from Primary School Choirs from the Share the Dream project. They are conducted by Ula Weber and accompanied by an 11-piece CBSO Ensemble.

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Rodgers & Hammerstein: Some Enchanted Evening

June is bustin' out all over: so celebrate Friday night with the most successful partnership in American Musical Theatre history. Everyone knows the sound of Rodgers and Hammerstein's music, and all your favourite songs are here - we're sure to send you home whistling a happy tune!

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Handel's Messiah

Handel's Messiah isn't so much an oratorio as a national institution - hands up if you've ever heard the Hallelujah chorus? Yet, even though Messiah was a favourite at the great Birmingham Triennial Festivals, the CBSO Chorus has never sung it. We're putting that right this Season, and under the baton of conductor John Butt, Handel's timeless inspiration will burn brighter than ever.

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Queen's Platinum Jubilee

In 2022, Her Majesty The Queen will become the first British Monarch to celebrate seventy years of service having acceded to the throne in 1952. To mark this momentous occasion, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra will perform a selection of works from throughout her reign that is as rich and varied as Her remarkable life and times.

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History of Soul

Get on board the soul train with Strictly singing star Tommy Blaize and acclaimed vocalist Vanessa Haynes as they take us on a musical journey through the history of one of the most important and popular forms of music created in the 20th Century. Exploring its early initial influences of Gospel, Jazz and Rhythm & Blues you can expect to hear a host of the greatest hits from soul legends such as Aretha Franklin, James Brown and many more. 

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Gabriela Montero: Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto

A mountain peak, a cathedral in sound; Anton Bruckner's Sixth Symphony contains music beautiful enough to pierce the very soul, while Brahms' Third Symphony is one of adventure, poetry and deep romance. In these two concerts, Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla pairs each symphony with another classic that wears its heart on its sleeve - Tchaikovsky's hugely popular First Piano Concerto, performed by soloist Gabriela Montero who makes everything she plays sound new. 

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Beethoven and Schumann

Beethoven said of his eleventh string quartet that it was ‘written for a small circle of connoisseurs and is never to be performed in public.’ Join our own group of connoisseurs to listen for the influence of Beethoven’s ground-breaking tonal ambiguity and chromatic harmony in Schumann’s String Quartet No. 3. 

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Kazuki Yamada: Mendelssohn's Scottish Symphony

Felix Mendelssohn always enjoyed visiting Birmingham, but he adored Scotland too, and his Third Symphony conjures up wild landscapes, skirling pipes and Highland reels - in short, the kind of music that Kazuki Yamada simply loves to conduct. With Prokofiev's firecracker of a first symphony for starters, and the superb Daishin Kashimoto as soloist in the world's favourite violin concerto, it's just tune after glorious tune. 

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Opera's Greatest Hits

Join us for a sensational night at the opera! The CBSO Orchestra and Chorus are joined by guest soloists Nadine Benjamin, Heather Lowe, Thomas Atkins and Nicholas Lester for a concert packed with popular classics. Under the baton of Matthew Kofi Waldren, you’ll hear some of the best-loved arias and duets from the greatest operas of all time. 

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Mahan Esfahani: A Journey Through Time

Harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani is a force of nature, and we can't wait to make music with an artist who makes everything he plays catch fire. Tonight, he leaps effortlessly from the 18th Century to the 21st - making musical history with the UK premiere of a brand new concerto, written specially for the CBSO. Ravel and Stravinsky set the mood with two playful mock-baroque classics: a musical costume-drama with a mischievous twist. 

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CBSO Wind

Join the wind section as they lilt, whistle, and trill their way through a varied programme including the intricately layered sonorities of Franz Krommer and Ruth Gipps’ Wind Octets. Finally, sit back and relax as our talented musicians treat you to the familiar strains of Mozart’s ‘Don Giovanni’. This is a performance sure to blow you away. 

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Mahler's Fifth Symphony

A trumpet sounds, and the orchestra unleashes Hell. To call Mahler's Fifth Symphony dramatic is a bit of an understatement! But there's joy as well as tragedy in this epic musical adventure, as well as the ravishing Adagietto: possibly the sweetest love-song in all music. Christoph Koenig was an instant hit on his first appearance in 2019; now he's joined by Paul Lewis in Mozart's exquisite final piano concerto. 

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Little Big Time Band does Centre Stage

Passports at the ready as the littlest band with the biggest impact takes you on a musical journey around the world. Virtuosic playing, ingeniously arranged repertoire and light-hearted camaraderie are all included in the carry-on allowance.  

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Sheku Kanneh-Mason plays Shostakovich

"With Weinberg, each piece is just greater than the next" says Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla, and her award-winning, critically-acclaimed exploration of this great 20th Century composer (and friend of Shostakovich) has been one of the supreme achievements of her time in Birmingham. Two gripping symphonies frame Shostakovich's powerful Second Cello Concert - and a welcome return for another great friend of the CBSO, Sheku Kanneh-Mason. 

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Youth Ambassadors: Triptych

We’ve given the CBSO Youth Ambassadors the keys to the concert hall and invited them to curate a unique concert experience to excite our audiences this March. Their response: a series of three musical rooms for you to step into, each designed to showcase the full force of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra in a different light. From the loud to the light, dark to the bright, there’s room for everyone.

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Notelets: Jazz in the Jungle Trilogy

Come and join Oscar the Ocelot and his music loving friends in the CBSO jungle, as they bring to life three wonderful books (Jazz in the Jungle, Oscar at the Opera and Ella Fitzfeathers and the Stormy Weather) created by local author and composer, Joey Walter and beautifully illustrated by Birmingham-based artist, Ning-ning Li.

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Grieg and Sibelius

Scandinavian style: it's all about clean lines, natural beauty, and that special cosy glow they call "hygge". Carl Nielsen brings sunlight, and Sibelius celebrates nature, in a symphony as wild as a Finnish forest and as magical as the Northern Lights. Grieg provides the tenderness, as Michael Seal and pianist Clare Hammond perform his lovely Piano Concerto: all the right notes, in much more than just the right order!

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Mozart and Gipps

Our quintet champion the music of Ruth Gipps - former oboist with what was then the City of Birmingham Orchestra. She wrote this short, ravishing Rhapsody Quintet in 1942, while studying with Vaughan Williams at the Royal College of Music.

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Tchaikovsky and Stravinsky

A savage fanfare, a sight of despair: Tchaikovsky's Fourth Symphony lays its cards on the table and pours out its heart. Like Romeo and Juliet, it's a musical drama of torment and triumph, heartbreak and joy, told in melodies you'll never forget - and Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla certainly won't hold back. Stravinsky, meanwhile, intended his Violin Concerto to be unplayable, but he'd reckoned without our soloist Patricia Kopatchinskaja…

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CBSO Youth Orchestra: Tchaikovsky and Price

When 14-year old Korngold premiered his Overture to a Drama in 1911, audiences were left breathless with amazement. That's a typical reaction to hearing the CBSO Youth Orchestra, too: 100 outstanding young musicians playing with an energy and a brilliance that has to be heard to be believed. Today they bring all that passion to Tchaikovsky's Fifth Symphony - and join pianist Jeneba Kanneh-Mason in the neglected, deeply romantic Piano Concerto by Florence Price. 

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100 Years of Movie Magic

Whether it's Gone with the Wind or La La Land and from the deserts of Tatooine to the towers of Hogwarts, a classic movie is nothing without a great score. But no cinema sound system comes close to the thrill of hearing the full 80-piece CBSO live in Symphony Hall, playing music from Star Wars, Vertigo, The Lord of the Rings, and many, many more. The ultimate Friday night out!

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The Ordering of Moses

"Let my people go." Tormented and enslaved, Moses cries to Heaven for freedom - and you can imagine what those words meant to a Black, Canadian-American composer in 1932. Robert Nathaniel Dett transforms a timeless story into a sweeping choral epic, cinematic in scope and blazing with melody and emotion. If you enjoy Elgar, you'll love this: performed tonight by the CBSO Chorus and a line-up of top soloists.

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Family Concert: Myths and Legends

From mythical beasts to legendary outlaws, through magical worlds and hidden realms - join the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, conductor Delyana Lazarova and presenter Tom Redmond on a thrilling musical journey. 

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El Ultimo Tango

El Ultimo Tango was created by our principal cellist, Eduardo Vassallo, in 2002. The ensemble specialises in Argentinian music with particular emphasis on the music of Astor Piazzolla. For this Centre Stage performance, they present a selection of works by Piazzolla alongside their own take on Bach’s Goldberg Variations, which they call ‘Bachissimo!’