Music has always been at the heart of what it means to be English – just as Birmingham is at the heart of England itself. But Englishness has never just been about pomp and circumstance, or larks ascending. True, our Spirit of England season is filled with some of the best-loved classics of English music, from Elgar’s Enigma Variations to a symphonic tribute to Queen. But this is Birmingham, the world in one city, and we’re used to opening our arms and thinking big.
There are very different perspectives on the Tudor era from Vaughan Williams and Gilbert and Sullivan; an Indian opera by an English composer, and a Greek myth retold by Handel.
We celebrate Britten, Tippett and Holst: composers who helped create the sound of the CBSO itself. There’s tragic passion from Arnold Bax, jazz-inspired riffs from Guy Barker, bold new sounds from Jonathan Dove and Daniel Kidane, and the lost voice of George Butterworth, who died on the Somme. And of course, what the English do best: entertainment, from a celebration of great British cinema to an evening with Brum’s very own Citizen Khan. The isle is full of noises, sounds and sweet airs: let them help you rediscover your England – or better still, show you one you’ve never heard.