An evening spent with the CBSO

 As the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (CBSO) so effectively sum up – “Everyone knows that in Birmingham, Friday night is when you let your hair down – and the CBSO loves to party too!” – and having had the privilege to attend one of their Friday Night Classics I couldn’t agree more…


The CBSO is the flagship of musical life in the Midlands, and one of the world’s great orchestras –  something that truly makes me proud to call myself a Brummie. Based in Symphony Hall, the CBSO and its ensembles give over 100 concerts each year. At its centre is a team of 90 outstandingly talented professional musicians (and when I say outstanding, I mean the kind of talent that makes you question why you ever gave up those music lessons at school), and a 97-year tradition of making the world’s greatest music right here in the heart of Birmingham.

Stepping into the Symphony Hall is like stepping into a different world, and that’s not just down to the theme of the evening and the fact that a member of the Woodwind family had decided to impersonate Jabba the Hutt… It is so deserving of its reputation as world class venue – how many other concert halls can lay claim to have been officially opened by the Queen herself?!

Symphony Hall has a particularly innovative feature which makes it unique –  it has a reverberation chamber behind the stage which extends high along the sides, this adds 50% to the hall’s volume – combined with tonight’s 75-strong orchestra and 180 CBSO Chorus – it’s a truly exceptional experience.

The first half of the Friday Night Classics concert started with the 20th Century Fox Fanfare, and what an opener it was. Aside from bringing back fond memories of watching classic films with your friends and family, this really showed off the best of what the CBSO has to offer – everything from the violins to the horns, the flutes to the percussion – everyone had their part to play. From then Michael Seal, Associate Conductor, started to take the audience on a journey… “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…” allowing the work of John Williams and what’s known as one of the greatest scores in movie history to come to life in thrilling full orchestral sound.

As we reached the finale (or should I say crescendo) we had been treated to everything from the full Chorus singing in a South American language depicting the ‘Battle of the Heroes’, to a fairy-tale princess melody and the colourful flute solo from Veronika Klirova, a recipient of the CBSO Long Service Award. I must admit, it came as no great surprise when looking through the programme to see that so many members of the orchestra have also been recognised with this award, as well as the Chorus having members who have served over 40 years – a true testament to the passion and perfection of the CBSO.

As one member so rightly puts it “it’s a constant source of joy in my life” and that’s exactly what you’re made to feel as the audience, and so what better way to celebrate ‘the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!’ than with the CBSO?

They have a fantastic line-up of concerts this December that capture the revelry, excitement, and heart-warming magic of the season.

Get the festivities kick-started and party like it’s 1979 at another concert in the Friday Night Classics series, ABBA Symphonic Spectacular, on 1 December or cosy up with Brahms’ delightful Piano Concerto No. 2 (with pianist Martin Helmchen – pictured below) and Prokofiev’s Cinderella on 6 and 7 December respectively. And then A Choral Christmas with Ore Oduba running 19-21 December is the CBSO’s annual carol concert which is guaranteed to leave you feeling full of festive cheer.

To get truly in the festive spirit join the CBSO on 22 December when they will take us on a seasonal cinematic journey at Christmas at the Movies.  The Orchestra will play music from timeless classics including White Christmas and It’s a Wonderful Life and contemporary crackers including Home AloneElfGremlins and Die Hard!

Find out more about the above and other festive surprises by visiting the CBSO website here

OFFER: Exclusive to Visit Birmingham – 10% off your Christmas with the CBSO!

Make sure you share your Christmas experiences at the CBSO in Birmingham this year, on Twitter or Instagram using #ChristmasinBham


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