The world-renowned City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra
is the flagship of musical life in Birmingham and the West Midlands. Based in Symphony Hall, it gives more than 130 concerts each year in Birmingham, throughout the UK, and around the world, playing music that ranges from classics to contemporary works, film music, and even symphonic disco. With a far-reaching community programme and a family of choruses and youth ensembles, it is involved in every aspect of music making in the Midlands; the CBSO Youth Orchestra, for example, fosters young instrumentalists aged fourteen to twenty-one, offering high-level training to the next generation of orchestral musicians alongside top international conductors and soloists. At the centre of the Orchestra’s activities is a team of ninety superb professional musicians with a ninety-five-year tradition of performing the world’s greatest music. That tradition started with the Orchestra’s very first symphonic concert, in 1920, conducted by Sir Edward Elgar. Under such principal conductors as Sir Adrian Boult, George Weldon, Andrzej Panufnik, and Louis Frémaux the Orchestra won an artistic reputation that spread far beyond the Midlands. But it was when it discovered the young British conductor Simon Rattle, in 1980, that the Orchestra became internationally famous, and showed how the arts can help give a new sense of direction to a whole city. Rattle’s successors, Sakari Oramo and Andris Nelsons, helped cement that global reputation. Now, under the artistic leadership of the principal guest conductor, Edward Gardner
OBE, associate conductor, Michael Seal
, assistant conductor, Alpesh Chauhan
, and chorus director, Simon Halsey CBE, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra continues to do what it does best – playing great music for the people of Birmingham and the Midlands, as well as international audiences. Approaching its centenary, in 2020, it remains the beating heart of musical life in the UK’s Second City.