CBSO 2014-2015



A world-class orchestra at home in Birmingham

  • Acclaimed music director Andris Nelsons’ seventh and final season with the CBSO

  • Wagner’s final opera Parsifal, a work Andris has always dreamed of conducting

  • Back by popular demand - Beethoven’s nine symphonies

  • Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream with principal guest conductor Edward Gardner

  • A unique concert will celebrate a hundred years since the birth of composer, and former CBSO principal conductor, Andrzej Panufnik

  • Nine conducting debuts

  • Three CBSO co-commissions and UK premieres from Ēriks Ešenvalds, James MacMillan and Mark Anthony Turnage

  • Countdown to the CBSO’s centenary continues with CBSO:2020 project, including music from 1914 and 1915 by Sibelius, Elgar, Berg, de Falla, Bridge and Holst

  • War and Peace: centenary of World War 1 is marked in several concerts

  • Artists of global renown come to Birmingham with guest appearances by an array of world-class conductors, musicians and vocalists

  • Notable CBSO birthdays: CBSO Chorus at 40, CBSO Youth and Children’s Chorus at 20, and CBSO Youth Orchestra at 10.

  • Concerts for families and Friday Night Classics continue to bring great music to the widest possible audience

The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra announced its 2014-15 Birmingham concert season today, including details of music director Andris Nelsons’ final season in Birmingham. Following a vast programme of orchestral concerts and performances, the CBSO family and audience will say farewell to its popular maestro. Premieres, anniversaries and a host of internationally acclaimed artists will take centre stage as the CBSO looks to the future, continues to reflect on its almost hundred-year history, and celebrates the last seven inspirational years under Andris’ directorship.

Andris and the CBSO

2014-15 will mark Andris Nelsons’ seventh and final season as music director of the CBSO. His farewell season is set to take us on an epic journey through the heroic fables and outstanding music for which Nelsons’ renditions are now legendary, assisted by the CBSO family and some very special guest artists.

Andris opens the Birmingham 2014-15 season with his critically acclaimed Beethoven Cycle, last performed by the CBSO during the 2012-13 season. Back by popular demand, all nine Beethoven Symphonies will be performed in just four days. Other highlights include Strauss’s warm-hearted take on the tale of Don Quixote, Brahms’s Symphony No.1 and Bruckner’s angelic Symphony No. 7. Andris will conduct Shostakovich’s Symphony No.11, one of the most gripping 20th century symphonies, and in War and Revolution he will explore Elgar’s deeply moving wartime music in Polonia, Op. 76, Sospiri, Op. 70 and Une Voix dans le Désert, Op. 77.
Andris will conduct an evening of Schubert and Strauss with Dvořák’s Symphony No.7 and bring every bar urgently to life in Mahler’s Symphony No. 6. In spring 2015 he conducts Rachmaninov’s romantic Symphony No. 2 and as the CBSO heads to the summer of 2015, he brings warmth and wit to Haydn’s Symphony No. 103 (Drumroll) and Symphony No. 104 (London).

Andris, hailed globally as one of the finest Wagner conductors of our time, will realise a life-long ambition and conduct Wagner’s last opera Parsifal with an all-star cast including tenor Burkhard Fritz and mezzo-soprano Mihoko Fujimura. For his farewell concerts on 17 & 18 June 2015, he has chosen Mahler’s Symphony No 3 - a huge, rapturous hymn to nature, both unchanging and forever renewing, and with the UK premiere of a new choral piece by his fellow Latvian Ēriks Ešenvalds which has been jointly commissioned (thanks to the support of the Feeney Trust) with his new orchestra, the Boston Symphony Orchestra. It will bring the CBSO, its choruses, audience and conductor together in what’s sure to be an emotional evening as the CBSO says thank you to Andris for a glorious and inspirational time in its history.

Andris Nelsons, CBSO music director said:

The beginning of every new concert season is always very exciting, but I must say that this year I feel a certain element of sadness as it is my last in Birmingham. When we perform Mahler’s Third Symphony in June 2015, it will mark the end of one of the happiest and most fulfilled chapters of my musical life, and I hope you will be with us on those special nights. But we have a lot of wonderful music to play first, and I think some of our greatest adventures together may still be ahead this coming season!

Stephen Maddock, CBSO chief executive, said:

It’s been an incredible time for the CBSO with Andris at the helm since 2008. Audiences both locally and internationally have witnessed many wonderful performances and the organisation’s reputation has continued to go from strength to strength. Now in his final season with us, Andris offers a wide range of outstanding orchestral music, some of his favourite scores, audience favourites and world-class guests and performers. The entire CBSO family looks forward to a long-lasting working relationship with Andris in the future, and we will continue to watch his career flourish as one of the world’s top conductors. But before we say goodbye, I hope you take these opportunities to enjoy one of the orchestral world’s great partnerships at full throttle!

Edward Gardner

2014-15 marks Edward’s fourth and final season as the CBSO’s principal guest conductor. During the CBSO 2014-15 season, Edward will conduct some of the music he loves, including works by Bartók, Brahms, Janáček, Elgar and Tippett. He will get the pulse rating with Berlioz and will lead the world-famous CBSO Chorus as it sings Janáček’s Glagolitic Mass. In April 2015, Edward teams up with the CBSO Youth Chorus in its 20th anniversary year for Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. He will be joined later in the month by cellist Alban Gerhardt for Elgar’s Cello Concerto.

Andrzej Panufnik

On Wednesday 24 September, exactly 100 years since Panufnik’s birth, the Panufnik Centenary Concert will remember one of the CBSO’s most celebrated principal conductors. Supported by the Adam Mickiewicz Institute as part of the Polska Music programme, this will be the only UK orchestral celebration on the composer’s birthday. Andrzej Panufnik was a prolific Polish composer, pianist and conductor and he was instrumental in the re-establishment of the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra after World War II. Increasingly frustrated with the extra-musical demands imposed on him by the country's regime, he defected to the United Kingdom in 1954. He became chief conductor of the CBSO in 1957, a post he relinquished in 1959 to devote his time to composition. The evening is conducted by the CBSO’s Associate Conductor Michael
Seal and will celebrate some of the music Panufnik conducted in Birmingham, including two of his finest works, the Piano Concerto and Symphony No. 2 (Sinfonia Elegiaca). The concert will be preceded by a talk from the composer’s daughter Roxanna, herself a distinguished composer.

Conducting debuts

In 2014-15 the CBSO continues to support and nurture exciting new talent. Audiences will witness a number of conducting debuts: from Britain, Duncan Ward and Ryan Wigglesworth, from Germany David Afkham, and from Israel, conductor and pianist Lahav Shani - first prize winner of the Bamberg Symphony Conducting Competition in 2013. Spaniard Gustavo Gimeno lives in Holland and in February 2014 made a sensational debut with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in Amsterdam. Also from Spain is Josep Pons, musical director of the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona. Three CBSO Youth Orchestra alumni will also be appearing - Benjamin Gernon, Jamie Phillips, and CBSO Conducting Fellow Alpesh Chauhan, all proving that the future of classical music is in extraordinarily talented hands.

World-class guests in Birmingham

The CBSO will continue to attract the very best conductors, artists and musicians to Birmingham, guests with global reputations and others fast making their name on the international circuit. Soprano Annette Dasch and tenor Toby Spence will make appearances as will pianists Stephen Hough, Nikolai Lugansky, Steven Osborne and Simon Trpčeski, cellist Alban Gerhardt and violinists James Ehnes and Baiba Skride will also return to the orchestra. Baiba will appear in Centre Stage, the CBSO’s lunchtime concert series at CBSO Centre. Popular conducting talents will also return by orchestral and public demand - Alain Altinoglu, Nicholas Collon, Andrew Litton, Andrew Manze, Kazushi Ono, Alexander Vedernikov, Ilan Volkov and Nikolai Znaider, among others.

New music

The CBSO will continue to support new music with three exciting UK premieres. One of the UK’s most successful living composers, James MacMillan, will conduct his acclaimed new setting of the St Luke Passion, with the CBSO Chorus and Youth Chorus. This major new work is a CBSO co-commission for the 40th anniversary of the CBSO Chorus. Also new is Mark Anthony Turnage’s Passchendaele, a hugely poignant homage to the infamous battle of the First World War. Specially written for the young players of the CBSO Youth Orchestra, the work will receive its first UK performance as part of the youth orchestra’s 10th anniversary celebrations. Finally, another co-commission, a new choral work by Latvian composer Ēriks Ešenvalds will be premiered by Andris in Boston in November 2014 and will take pride of place in Andris’ farewell concerts on 17 & 18 June 2015.

Nurturing local talent

The CBSO is made up of 90 extraordinary artists, but they are only part of the CBSO family. The talents of a further 750 local residents are nurtured through the CBSO Chorus, CBSO Youth Orchestra, CBSO Youth Chorus, CBSO Children’s Chorus and three community choirs. The CBSO Chorus’ 40th anniversary celebrations will continue and the 110-piece CBSO Youth Orchestra will celebrate its 10th anniversary with two electrifying programmes: Edward Gardner conducts Lutoslawski’s Fourth Symphony, and Ben Gernon - the former CBSO Youth Orchestra tuba player who now conducts the Los Angeles Philharmonic - leads a celebratory performance of Holst’s The Planets alongside music by Turnage and Vaughan Williams.

Friday and festive fun

On the back of successes such as the CBSO Abba Night, the Friday Night Classics return in 2014-15 with music from the rock band Queen to the legend of Ella Fitzgerald, and from the 21st Century movie blockbusters to cartoon classics. December 2014 will see actor and satirist Hugh Dennis (BBC’s Outnumbered and Mock the Week) join the CBSO family for Festive Favourites, now one of Birmingham’s most sought-after Christmas shows. Simon Halsey leads the Orchestra and Choruses in a special celebration of traditional and not so traditional Christmas tunes.

Concerts for young audiences

The CBSO’s programme of around 35 concerts per year for young audiences will continue. Family Concerts and Schools Concerts at Symphony Hall and Notelets Christmas Crackers, Move and Groove and Under the Sea concerts at CBSO Centre will continue to delight and captivate families and young music lovers as they learn about the orchestra and music through CBSO musicians and madcap presenters. The CBSO Guide to the Orchestra — a programme especially designed for Key Stage 3 students with conductor Michael Seal and presenter Alasdair Malloy — will see 6,000 young people from around the West Midlands exploring music from Mozart to Harry Potter. Schools Concerts: Bite-size
Classics is designed for Key Stage 2 students and is a lively concert programme made up of music by & for children. ‘Music!’ concerts will teach Key Stage 1 children about musical ingredients and how to put them together in an interactive performance featuring the CBSO.
Booking information:

To view the CBSO’s season in full go to Members’ priority booking begins on 6 May. Public booking begins 27 May. Tickets are available from Symphony Hall or Town Hall box offices in person, by phone: 0121 345 0499, or online: (Please note a £2.50 transaction fee is charged by Town Hall Symphony Hall Box Office on all bookings except those made in person – the transaction fee will increase to £3.00 from 1 June 2014).



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