Birmingham prepares tour of the century

Birmingham prepares tour of the century


norman lebrecht

January 29, 2020

The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra is to have its first US tour of the 21st century this October – the first, in fact, since 1998.

Music Director Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla will conduct concertos with Sheku Kanneh-Mason (Elgar) and Gidon Kremer (Weinberg). The tour will also roll out Thomas Adès’ Angel Symphony, to be premiered in Birmingham this May, alongside music by Debussy, Ravel and Bartok.

Two Carnegie Hall dates were announced last night.


  • Appleby says:

    They played in the Mostly Mozart festival in New York in 2008 but that was only one city so it presumably doesn’t really constitute a tour.

  • MacroV says:

    Hopefully they will come to Washington. But my usual gripe: If they were such a hot ticket, they wouldn’t need a soloist. At least with Gidon Kremer they have a legend, who will play a lesser-known work and one that is consistent with their (and his) current artistic mission. SKM is I’m sure a fine cellist and probably decent box-office, but an English orchestra bringing Elgar’s well-known cello concerto, not exactly groundbreaking.

    • John Kelly says:

      They are doing Child of our Time after the Elgar. Together with the Weinberg concerto this is quite adventurous by Carnegie Hall touring standards, certainly more interesting programme wise than what’s being done by the Maryinsky Orch, the VPO or even BPO. Last time the CBSO were in NY with Rattle they gave a superb Daphnis (I was thinking “wow’, how they listen to each other) – Rattle at his best in French music by an orchestra used to playing it with Fremaux for years. Ho hum review by the NYT who took 30 years to discover Rattle was actually pretty darn good, as was this orchestra. Now he’s the conquering hero when he comes to do Pelleas or Rosenkavalier at the Met. He hasn’t got better particularly in my opinion, the critics have though…………..
      ……..and I will go many a mile to hear Kremer play, I still have his Elgar concerto in mind, which he gave in Leeds with Kondrashin and the RPO in the late 1970s. Stupefying. Overheard in the pub afterwards from an RPO player……..”that made everything worth it.”

      • MacroV says:

        A Child of Our Time is great tour programming, indeed.

        My recollection of the CBSO tour in 1998 was the NY Times writing about an Eroica performance that New York hears many great orchestras making average music; it was nice for a change to hear an average orchestra making great music.

    • Appleby says:

      What a weird perspective. They’re bringing Weinberg, a major new piece by Ades and a full-scale oratorio by Tippett and you’re kvetching over the one crowd-pleaser on the programme (which was almost certainly requested by the venues)?

      (I see Mehta and the Vienna Philharmonic is touring with a soloist this spring: obviously not such a hot ticket. And the LA Philharmonic toured the UK with Yuja Wang playing John Adams last summer. Not exactly groundbreaking.)

      • MacroV says:

        I said it before I saw the full tour repertoire. What I get tired of is , say, a name-brand pianist with no particular relationship to the orchestra playing a Beethoven concerto, for no obvious reason but to help ticket sales, since the promoters don’t seem to think the orchestra itself will sell. Kremer playing the Weinberg concerto or Yuja playing the new Adams piece are definitely in the “ok” category.

  • V.Lind says:

    In North America. a typical concert structure is introductory piece, concerto, symphony. It is not invariable, but concert-goers tend to expect this sort of format.

  • Derek says:

    Also the CBSO will visit Costa Mesa and Santa Barbara in California (sigh – I do enjoy time in California) and Ann Arbor in Michigan. Further concert dates at several foremost American venues are still to be announced.

    As mentioned by John Kelly, Tippett’s Child of our Time (with the CBSO Chorus) is included during the tour as well.

    It promises to be interesting.

  • Naomi Pearson says:

    I do hope they all get their US visas successfully as I’m sure that, if any player were to somehow encounter any difficulty in securing permission to enter the US, orchestral solidarity will ensure that the tour is postponed until the whole team is allowed in.

  • Saxon Broken says:

    It looks rather “a brave” programme to tour with.