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The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra has revealed its 2024-25 Season, continuing its commitment to presenting exceptional musical experiences in a way that brings connection, inspiration and joy to the people of Birmingham, the West Midlands and beyond.

Across more than 100 performances, the CBSO journeys from the greatest orchestral masterpieces at Symphony Hall to fun-filled interactive concerts for all the family, and from new music by today’s most important composers to performances at Birmingham’s Bullring and New Street Station - showcasing the incredible range and talent of the orchestra through diversity of programming, in a Season that places CBSO musicians in the spotlight as well as welcoming a host of world-renowned guest artists and conductors.

The orchestra also strengthens its mission to reach new audiences across the West Midlands and beyond with an ambition to embed itself even further into the cultural life of the city.

Today, Kazuki Yamada takes up the new title of Music Director, reflecting his ever-deepening relationship with the orchestra and increasing involvement in programming and creative decision-making.

Yamada leads 22 concerts in Birmingham across the 2023-25 season, from performances of landmark classical works to appearances with the CBSO Youth Orchestra, at the CBSO’s annual Schools’ Concerts, and at Hockley Social Club, as well as working with Shireland CBSO Academy, the UK’s first school run in collaboration with an orchestra which opened in September 2023.

A highlight of Yamada’s season will be an exploration of Ninth Symphonies, including the last symphonies of Mahler, Bruckner, Dvořák and Beethoven. The focus launches with Beethoven’s dazzling ‘Choral’ Symphony, showcasing the full-force of the CBSO Chorus alongside soprano Lucy Crowe, mezzo-soprano Jennifer Johnston, tenor Nicky Spence and bass-baritone Jonathan Lemalu (19 September); in the year that marks Bruckner’s 200th birthday, Yamada leads his Symphony No.9, a work which famously remained unfinished at his death (12 December); Dvořák’s 9th Symphony – his ‘New World’ symphony – is at the heart of two Yamada-led concerts, the first in a programme that also features music by Villa Lobos and Mendelssohn (14 February) and the second a deep-dive into the history and context of the work in a collaboration with Black Voices (15 February); and Mahler’s Symphony No.9 sits in a concert of two works both triggered by loss and grief – alongside Takemitsu’s Requiem (10 April).

Yamada also joins the CBSO Youth Orchestra for a performance of Mendelssohn’s ‘Reformation’ Symphony alongside music by the composer’s sister, Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel, and Bruch’s Scottish Fantasy, performed by YCAT Artist and one of Classic FM’s Rising Stars of 2024, violinist Hana Chang (3 November).

Further highlights of Yamada’s season include: a celebration of the music and heritage of Spanish music with renowned Montenegrin guitarist Miloš (30 October); a host of violin concertos with starry soloists, including Shostakovich’s No.2 with Isabelle Faust (5 February) and Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto with Suyeon Kim (14 February), plus a concert that places the CBSO’s leader Eugene Tzikindelean in the spotlight as the soloist in Elgar’s Violin Concerto (4 December); Haydn’s mighty oratorio – The Creation – with the CBSO Chorus (26 February); Saint-Saëns Cello Concerto No1 with soloist Kian Soltani (1 May) and the composer’s famous Organ Symphony performed by Sabastian Heindl (4 June); before closing the season with Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No.2 performed by Hisako Kawamura (18 June) and Elgar’s Cello Concerto by the CBSO’s close musical friend Sheku Kanneh-Mason (19 June). Yamada also leads the orchestra on tours to Europe and Japan during the 2024-25 Season.

For a week in August 2024, the CBSO and Kazuki Yamada will be out and about in Birmingham, filling the city with music. CBSO in the City (26 – 31 August) will see the orchestra present free performances in unexpected locations including the Bullring, Grand Central, The Hawthorns (home of West Bromwich Albion FC) and New Street Station, as well as a host of libraries, community centres, museums, parks, pubs and more. The programme will include shows for families across a huge range of spaces, as well as performances for those living with dementia alongside their carers, family and friends.

The CBSO’s programming increasingly recognises the cultural make-up of Birmingham, with performances that explore collaborations with the many other non-classical musical genres which reflect the city: Soweto Kinch’s White Juju fuses electronic hip-hop, jazz and rap, and was inspired by a year of turbulent racial politics, culture wars and the pandemic (20 October); Singer and Kora-player Seckou Keita puts his instrument in the spotlight in a performance of African Rhapsodies (27 November): a CBSO Explores programme in collaboration with Punch Records brings together a host of Birmingham-born artists working across the grime, hip-hop and rap scenes (12 April); Birmingham legends ELO are celebrated in a concert conducted by Richard Balcome and featuring the CBSO Chorus (8 March); an evening of Thelonious Monk and Miles Davis, given a new twist by local saxophonist Xhosa Cole (20 March); the CBSO’s long relationship with Sampad Arts continues with a concert of best-loved Bollywood songs, performed by a host of incredible vocalists and conducted by Michael Seal (30 May); and the CBSO’s collaboration with the Orchestral Qawwali Project returns for the second year, written and directed by critically acclaimed composer Rushil Ranjan and featuring the soaring vocals of Abi Sampa in orchestral arrangements performed by the CBSO, CBSO Chorus and University of Birmingham Voices (19 July).

The CBSO today launches a new Community Board – a group designed to build connections with a diverse range of voices across Birmingham and help the orchestra to engage more proactively with communities in the region that are currently under-represented in classical music. The Community Board will meet with CBSO staff and musicians regularly throughout the year to discuss the orchestra’s work and ways in which it can be more relevant and impactful to communities across the West Midlands.

The CBSO’s 2024-25 Season sees a host of close musical friends and collaborators take to the Symphony Hall stage, including two of the orchestra’s celebrated former named conductors.

Former Principal Guest Conductor, Sir Mark Elder, makes a welcome return to the CBSO after more than 20 years, with a programme that includes Brahms’ Piano Concerto No.1 performed by Sir Stephen Hough, and Shostakovich’s dramatic Symphony No.6 (16 October). And the orchestra’s Associate Artist, Mirga Gražinyté-Tyla returns with music by the composer she championed while in her post as the CBSO’s Music Director – Weinberg’s fierce and powerful Symphony No.4, alongside Brahms’ Violin Concerto performed by Stephen Waarts (11 June). And former Assistant Conductor Alpesh Chauhan returns for a performance of Beethoven’s Symphony No.6 (Pastoral) and Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde with mezzo soprano Karen Cargill and tenor Brenden Gunnell (6 March).

The CBSO puts its own musicians firmly in the spotlight as soloists or instrumental sections in a series at Birmingham’s Town Hall, including Nikolaj Henriques in Weber’s Bassoon Concerto (28 July); the CBSO Wind and Brass mark the 200th anniversary of Bruckner (13 October); CBSO Leader Eugene Tzikindelean play/directs Bach’s Goldberg Variations with the CBSO Strings (10 November); the CBSO Winds are joined by oboist Nicholas Daniel who play/directs a concert featuring music by Anna Clyne and Mozart (26 January); and the CBSO’s Brass and Percussion sections present a programme featuring tangos by Jacob Grade and Piazzolla and Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition conducted by Kazuki (2 March).

The CBSO Chorus is at the forefront of nine concerts in the 2024-25 Season, with highlights including Beethoven’s ‘Choral’ Symphony (19 September); a programme of choral music by Judith Weir, Nico Muhly, Britten and Elgar conducted by Sofi Jeannin (20 November); the CBSO’s annual Christmas choral celebration, presented by Jess Gillam and conducted by Chorus Director Simon Halsey (19 & 20 December); Haydn’s The Creation (26 February); a celebration of Birmingham legends ELO (8 March); Poulenc’s Stabat Mater (16 April); and the Orchestral Qawwali Project (19 July).

Internationally renowned guest artists include pianists Paul Lewis, Steven Osbourne and Sir Stephen Hough, tenor Nicky Spence, violinist Leila Josefowicz, guitarist Miloš Karadaglić, Artists making their CBSO debuts this season include mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton and cellist Kian Soltani, while visiting conductors include Robert Ames, Kerem Hasan, Jonathan Heywood, Sofi Jeannin, Kirill Karabits, Anna Rakitina and Dinis Sousa - also making their debuts – as well as Kora player Sekou Keita, and saxophonist Xhosa Cole

This season, the CBSO continues to explore new and exciting ways to present orchestral music through a new series – CBSO Explores. Across the season, there will be moments where the orchestra tries something different – be that through staging, movement and lighting, narrative or context, or simply through the music being played.

Full season details can be found at cbso.co.uk/season