Birmingham reopens to live audiences

Birmingham reopens to live audiences


norman lebrecht

April 21, 2021

The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra will resume concerts at Symphony Hall from 19 May – 7 July.

An acoustic screen has been installed at the rear of the stage, allowing a larger number of musicians to play together, which may mean the CBSO is the largest orchestra performing anywhere in the UK at this time.

Concerts will be performed twice, at 2pm and 6:30pm.

They include Mirga’s world premiere of Thomas Adès’ The Exterminating Angel Symphony (16 June) and a programme of Weinberg and Mahler with mezzo-soprano Karen Cargill (23 June); the UK premiere of Julian Anderson’s new cello concerto Litanies with Alban Gerhardt conducted by Kazuki Yamada (30 June); Shostakovich 5 conducted by Nicholas Collon (26 May); Beethoven’s 2nd Piano Concerto with Paul Lewis and conductor Chloé van Soeterstède (2 June); a programme of English music with tenor Ian Bostridge conducted by Michael Seal (9 June); and a special Friday Night Classics programme of Summer Classics with conductor Michael Seal and violinist Jonathan Martindale (Friday 2 July).

Stephen Maddock, Chief Executive of the CBSO, said: ‘We are so thrilled to be able to welcome audiences back to our home at Symphony Hall and to be able to share the joy of live orchestral music with them once more. Today we’re announcing our programme for eight weekly pairs of concerts from May onwards and we feel sure that the people of Birmingham and the Midlands will want to rush back to enjoy the glorious sound of full-scale orchestral music after more than a year in which we have all been denied this opportunity.’




  • Petros Linardos says:

    “Mirga’s world premiere of Thomas Adès’ The Exterminating Angel”: I thought that world premieres are first and foremost about composers.

  • Bostin'Symph says:

    Fabulous news! I can’t wait to get back to Symphony Hall. CBSO we’ve missed you! 🙂

  • Annnon says:

    Believe the LSO has had the largest number of musicians on stage during these Covid concerts. And live from the Barbican shall feature Mahler in May. But then, it’s Mirga!

    • Stephen Maddock says:

      As far as I can tell the LSO Mahler in May is a concert without live audience of a reduced version of Das Lied von der Erde. The CBSO summer season will feature orchestras of up to 80 players – pretty sure that’s not possible at the Barbican at the moment, but happy to be proved wrong! All made possible by support from the government / Arts Council England Culture Recovery Fund.

      • Philip Moores says:

        Stephen – what will be the audience capacity? How much reduced due to unsocial distancing? I do hope F22 in the stalls is still available!

        • Stephen Maddock says:

          We will have about 30% capacity – just over 600 seats – per performance. Not sure about F22 but there should be something nearby!

  • Gustavo says:

    I have lost my appetite for live music over corona, and looking at the programme doesn’t make me want to go back to normality.

    Sorry, folks.