Britain’s thrilling new music director is … Mirgamain
As we’ve been forecasting for a while, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra has named Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla as its next music director, starting in September.
This is thrilling for all sorts of reasons.
At 29, Mirga is the first shoot of a new generation of music directors. Only Zurich, with Lionel Bringuier, has a younger boss.
Birmingham has once again set the lead, and the tone, for the rest of the country. Since 1979 the city has followed the instincts and enthusiasms of its musicians in picking a music director. Every result was a winner – Simon Rattle, Sakari Oramo (still mostly a violinist at his appointment), Andris Nelsons, and now Mirga.
London is left looking stale and middle-aged.
There is nothing fuddy-duddy about Mirga. She is a very contemporary person and a brilliant musician.
Here are seven more things you need to know about her.
The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (CBSO) is delighted to announce that Lithuanian conductor Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla has been appointed as its 12th Music Director, with effect from September 2016 for an initial three-year period.
Gražinytė-Tyla made her debut with the CBSO in July 2015 and impressed the Orchestra so much that she returned last month to conduct a specially arranged concert featuring works by Debussy, Schumann and Sibelius. Following an extensive search process led by a committee made up of CBSO musicians, board members and management, and with strong support from Orchestra and audience alike, a unanimous decision was made by the board of trustees to invite Gražinytė-Tyla to be the CBSO’s next Music Director. She succeeds Andris Nelsons, who held the position from 2008-2015.
The CBSO is known for performing the widest range of orchestral and choral music, and Gražinytė-Tyla will continue this tradition in her role as Music Director. Her artistic plans with the CBSO will range widely from Mozart and Haydn to 20th century classics and works by living composers. Coming from the strong choral traditions of the Baltic states (her father is a choir conductor in Lithuania), and following her role in Salzburg, she will also lead opera projects in Birmingham and will work closely with Simon Halsey CBE, CBSO Chorus Director, on projects with the CBSO’s internationally renowned choruses. Full details of the CBSO’s 2016-17 concert season in Symphony Hall, Birmingham will be announced in April 2016.
Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla said: ‘Every single musician of the CBSO is an artist with great individuality and sense of responsibility.They are driven to be one of the world’s leading orchestras and their shared spirit for team work helps them to achieve this. I felt so at ease working with the Orchestra at the CBSO Centre and at Symphony Hall and I can’t wait to get started and to call these my homes too. I am also very excited about working with the CBSO family including its brilliant choirs led by Simon Halsey, and getting involved with its extensive learning and participation programme both locally and further afield. I believe we will be a great team and really look forward to making music together.’
CBSO Chief Executive Stephen Maddock commented: ‘We are absolutely delighted to be appointing Mirga as the CBSO’s next Music Director. There was an instant chemistry between Mirga and our musicians, and the excitement in Symphony Hall at her concerts both on stage and in the audience was palpable. The CBSO is world-famous for its track record in finding brilliant young conducting talent: Sir Simon Rattle, appointed at just 25 years old, held the post for 18 years before moving to the Berlin Philharmonic. He passed the baton to the superbly talented Sakari Oramo (appointed at 30), who is now with the BBC Symphony Orchestra. Andris Nelsons (appointed at 28) had seven wonderful years here and has gone on to lead the Boston Symphony and Leipzig Gewandhaus orchestras. Mirga is 29 and is thrilling audiences wherever she goes: we can’t wait to start making music with her.’
Gražinytė-Tyla has been Music Director of the Salzburg Landestheater since 2015. She is currently the Assistant Conductor at the Los Angeles Philharmonic, where she was a Dudamel Fellow in 2012-13, and she takes up a new post of Associate Conductor from July 2016. She won the prestigious Salzburg Festival Young Conductors Award in 2012.
Gustavo Dudamel, Music and Artistic Director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, said: ‘I am personally delighted that Mirga has made such a strong connection with the musicians in Birmingham. She is an amazing artist, and we’ve been lucky to have her in Los Angeles. I know that she and this Orchestra are going to do great things together.’
Andris Nelsons, former Music Director of the CBSO, commented: ‘Sending my very warmest congratulations to Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla on her appointment with the tremendous City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. My time with the Orchestra will always be very special to me, and I am sure Mirga will also be so inspired by the wonderful musical family of the CBSO. Together, with these gifted musicians, an exciting future lies ahead for Birmingham and I wish them all the very best!’
Zoë Beyers, CBSO Associate Leader said: ‘This is the start of an incredibly exciting time for the Orchestra – to work with someone as talented, vibrant and energetic as Mirga is a dream come true. She is a completely committed and serious musician, but at the same time she manages to convey her enthusiasm and joy in the music to us all on the stage and in the audience. Spirit, dynamism and sincerity – Mirga has all of these qualities in abundance.’
Bridget Blow, Chair of the CBSO, said: ‘The CBSO has, for many decades, brought the best music, artists and musicians to Birmingham while also acting as a proud ambassador for the city through extensive touring. In Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla we have found a new Music Director who will continue to deliver the highest quality music-making at home in Birmingham and the UK as well as internationally. I am delighted to welcome her to the CBSO family.’