Programmes

Our latest concert programmes - yours to download for free

Autumn 21/22


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!’ 

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The Firebird

Like Brahms and Liszt before him, Rachmaninoff was inspired by a simple 19th-century tune for the violin and ended up writing one of the Romantic period's greatest pieces. Here, pianist Sunwook Kim guides us with ease through the 24 beautiful variations, while conductor Mihhail Gerts surrounds it with colour - from the fields of Hungary to the glittering fantasy-world of Stravinsky's The Firebird. 

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Schubert String Quintet

Schubert’s C Major Quintet is filled with emotional ambiguity – moving between light and shade, serenity and drama, in constant alternation. The opening bars are typical of this, with the quiet sound of a C major chord immediately followed by the cloud of much darker harmony before the music dissolves back into the major.

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Rush-Hour Concert

From the crashing waves of the North Sea to the endless plains of Africa, join the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra on a journey through the amazing natural world! This hour-long concert is the perfect way to decompress after the working day – and short enough to make it home in time for dinner! 

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CBSO Benevolent Fund Concert

At the end of a long life, Richard Strauss gazed into the sunset, and well, let's just say there's a reason why his Four Last Songs are such a favourite on Desert Island Discs. And that few living sopranos sing them more gloriously than Lucy Crowe. And Wagner's barnstorming overture and Brahms' sunniest symphony, and supporting the CBSO Benevolent Fund has never sounded so good. 

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Mozart and Brahms Quintets

In an hour of beautiful chamber music, a selection of CBSO musicians perform quintets by Mozart and Brahms. The addition of a second viola offers a warm, rich accompaniment for the horn in in Mozart’s charming quintet, and Brahms’ fresh and colourful viola quintet, often given the nickname ‘Spring’, was described by the composer as “one of [his] finest works”.  

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Beethoven and Berlioz

"Hopelessly in love, a young artist takes opium. He falls into a delirium, and sees the strangest of visions...."The result: Berlioz's Symphonie fantastique, a fabulous, no-holds-barred voyage to the outer limits of the imagination. Fabien Gabel is one of France's fastest-rising conductors; so imagine the electricity when he joins Swedish virtuoso Daniel Lozakovich in the soaring melodies and timeless serenity of Beethoven's only Violin Concerto.

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ABBA: Thank You For The Music

Mamma Mia! Here we go again... with a sensational, evening-long tribute to ABBA! From Waterloo to Dancing Queen, the CBSO will perform the Swedish pop group's greatest hits in all their sparkling show-stopping glory. You know them, you love them, and the Orchestra can't wait to play them! Presented in association with Capital Voices.

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CBSO Strings

Following its premiere, Bela Bartók described Kodály’s Serenade for two violins and viola as ‘extraordinarily rich in melodies with exotic characteristics influenced by the strong rubato of old peasant music’. In this short concert by members of the CBSO String section, it is performed alongside by Korngold’s finest chamber work. 

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Poulenc Sextet

Celebrated French composer Francis Poulenc was once described by the music critic Claude Rostand as 'a lover of life, mischievous…melancholy and serenely mystical'. In this performance, members of the CBSO Wind section are joined by a guest pianist to perform his energetic sextet for piano and wind quintet, preceded by two of his witty and charming chamber works. 

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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.