News Story

We began this process in November last year with a statement that set out some of our thinking for the future of the CBSO, alongside a promise that we would listen to feedback, and share our next steps with complete transparency. This is the next step.

We’d like to begin by thanking everyone who has taken the time to send us their carefully considered thoughts - the response has been genuinely extraordinary.

We have received many messages of support, communicating a mixture of excitement and relief upon hearing that we are planning to push forwards, purposefully in search of a wider audience. There were genuine, heartfelt, messages of concern too, from those who felt that these promises were potentially at the expense of our loyal long-standing patrons. On reflection, we ought to have more clearly communicated that our cherished supporters are as much a part of our future as those who don’t yet come, and we are taking steps to put that right.

Showcasing the highest quality music is at the heart of everything we do, and with over 100 concerts in any given year, there is most certainly time for us to celebrate the fine traditions of the classical repertoire, as well as taking moments to be daring or experimental.

It's not an either, or.

We said from the outset that this was a period of exploration, and at our concert on 13 December we tried a number of new things. The audience were invited to meet with key creatives for a relaxed discussion before the concert and we gave a welcome from the stage encouraging a tone of informality for the performance. We also trialled a set-up of screens that allowed us to portray images, title cards, and live close-up footage of our players, alongside designed lighting, and moments of movement within the orchestra.

It’s clear from the responses that different aspects of the performance resonated with different people, which was always bound to be the case. For some, the more visual aspects of the concert were thrilling, for others they were a distraction. For some, feeling free to clap between movements was liberating, for others, entirely unwanted. For us, the point is that we’ve committed to a period of trying and learning – and this was the start.

Having listened to the breadth of feedback, here is what we're doing next:

  • We will continue to develop an enhanced welcome for every CBSO event, and to programme more exploratory concerts. These concerts will form a thread within seasons that otherwise entirely celebrate the established traditions of our artform.
  • We will clearly communicate, well in advance, the specific dates of these particular concerts in the 24/25 Season so that audiences can choose when to come.
  • We will stay in dialogue with our current audience, potential future audience, and our industry - continuing to read and review every bit of feedback and share our reflections and learnings (although we may not be able personally to respond to every email we receive).

Our next creative collaboration takes place at our Youth Orchestra’s performance of Mahler 5 on Sunday 18 February. Rehearsals are already underway, and it’s been incredible to see the enthusiasm and openness from the young musicians.

We believe that an orchestra is an ensemble of possibilities, and that our job is to excite people about the music that we love, in the city we call home, and at our concerts all over the world. This requires us to try new things, and so we will continue to explore, learning as we go.

We’d love you to be a part of it.

If you’d like to be in touch