Breaking: Mirga steps down at Birmingham

Breaking: Mirga steps down at Birmingham


norman lebrecht

January 22, 2021

It has just been announced that Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla will end her term as music director of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra in the summer of 2022. She will have completed six years in the job and has agreed to continue as principal guest conductor for one season more.

She says: ‘I have decided to give up my position of Music Director of the CBSO at the end of the 2021/22 season and have happily accepted the orchestra’s invitation to become Principal Guest Conductor in the 2022/23 season. This is a deeply personal decision, reflecting my desire to step away from the organisational and administrative responsibilities of being a Music Director at this particular moment in my life and focusing more on my purely musical  activities. I have such admiration and great fondness for the musicians of the CBSO and I am absolutely delighted that we shall continue to make music together in the coming years.’

She means: Living in Salzburg, and with two small children, getting to and from Birmingham after Brexit will be a pain. In my mid-30s, I am ready for the next step.

photo: Chris Christodoulou

Mirga’s six years have been levitational for the CBSO. Every rehearsal has been fresh, uplifting and inspirational. She introduced a range of new music – notably Mieczysław Weinberg, winning Birmingham its first recordings on Deutsche Grammophon and a vista of new horizons. Like all the best artists, she leaves everyone wanting more.


UPDATE: We hear that Kazuki Yamada is extending as Principal Guest Conductor until the summer of 2023, giving the CBSO an added measure of continuity while it continues to develop local talent.

UPDATE2: Where next for Mirga?




  • Alexander says:

    she will be able to find somethinng more comforting in Europe very soon I think 😉


    Another huge blow to the prestige of UK arts. The carnage of Brexit mounts

  • Rogerio says:

    You are against the effects that Brexit is having on the British classical music world.
    But you seem to look at it as some sort of administrative bungle or the result of bad negotiation with the EU.
    Have you considered the possibility that many of those behind Brexit actually WANTED the outcome of foreigners leaving Britain.
    If this is the case, Mirga’s [ exit from Britain = ExitBr] is Most welcome.
    On a contrasting note:
    England has requested observer status in the Franco-German project of developing a new european Main Battle Tank. Make of that what you will.

  • Allen says:

    “She means: Living in Salzburg, and with two small children, getting to and from Birmingham after Brexit will be a pain.”

    Sorry, but I find the mental image of relatively wealthy people like Mirga and Rattle struggling with mounds of paperwork laughable.

    • sam says:

      Totally agree.

      The rich have lawyers to deal with all the paperwork (it’s all paralegal stuff anyway), or a good agent from an international agency with a perfectly adequate legal department.

      • Emil says:

        Whichis why Grigoryi Sokolov is not touring the UK anymore, of course. Because even the best lawyers can’t smooth over every possible aggravation. And lawyers and agents cost $$$. Why go through the trouble if there’s something just as nice on the continent?

    • henry williams says:

      i was always told never feel sorry for rich people

  • Wannaplayguitar says:

    Conductors come and conductors go…..anything more than a ten year tenure becomes….well….like a guest who overstay his/her welcome. Time to re shuffle the pack

  • Derek H says:

    Mirga is an enthusiastic musician and her wish to follow her aspirations and dreams should be respected.

    However, her leaving as CBSO Music Director in 2022 does cause uncertainty and apprehension about the orchestra’s future direction, especially in these difficult times.

    Best wishes to Mirga and to the CBSO as they move on into the future.

  • Gustavo says:

    A clear Brexit effect such dwindling commitment.

  • sam says:

    Everyone is looking at Daniel Harding as the model career: do what you like for your day job, quit the administrative hassles of a music director, and take only interesting conducting engagements.

    • Gustavo says:

      Just like Maestro John Williams.

      • NYMike says:

        John Williams’ main career is composing film scores. For him, conducting was always a sideline. Other than the Boston Pops – itself a part time job – he’s never held a regular MD position.

  • Player says:

    Norman, are you her agent or summat?

  • JussiB says:

    I think young Mirga should slow down and stay put in one place so as to study and deepen her craft. Her LA Phil readings that I’ve heard were brilliant on the surface but lacking substance…. same thing I said about her mentor Dudamel.

    • Pasul Rubensz says:

      …and that is a kind assessment. To be fair to GD, I think his technique is settling down some, less spastic and overconducted. Not the same for Mirga, unfortunately.

  • Le Křenek du jour says:

    ‘Mirga’s escape to the Salzburg Mozartkugel-Konditoreien is a warning to orchestras to shun air-mile maestros and recruit local.’

    Sounds familiar?

    For the original, substitute “Rattle” for “Mirga”, “Munich” for “Salzburg”, and “Bierkeller” for “Konditoreien”: quite an animus, innit?

    But no such animus towards Mirga, although the circumstances are quite comparable.
    What gives?
    « Deux poids, deux mesures ? »

  • John Humphreys says:

    To think we had 18 glorious years with Simon Rattle and the CBSO. Unthinkable now. Halcyon days…so lucky.

  • fflambeau says:

    How about the young conductor, Kenneth Woods? Although an American, he has done well conducting in Britain for the last 8 years or so. Very innovative. Well regarded. Brexit might be a problem (and I think his hometown orchestra, in Madison, Wisconsin, might also be after him).

    • pjl says:

      I agree he is young: 53. Others may disagree? Surely he is too interested in rare repertoire (eg GAL) and enjoys training young and semi-professional bands (Surrey Mozart Players) so that such a job would not appeal?

  • Paul Rubensz says:

    Be Glad Birmingham! Graznyite-Tyla was an awful conductor. “Young and perky” is no compensation for spastic baton technique and a splayed left hand. Move on, and quickly!