Wednesday 19 August 2020

CBSO celebrates its centenary to the day with a concert conducted by Sir Simon Rattle

On 5 September 1920, the fledgling City of Birmingham Orchestra took to the stage for the first time at the Theatre Royal, Birmingham under the baton of their Principal Conductor, Appleby Matthews. Two months later, on 10 November 1920, the orchestra’s first full symphonic performance was given at Birmingham Town Hall, with Edward Elgar conducting a concert of his own works.

This centenary is being celebrated to the day when, on 5 September 2020 the orchestra, now named the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, will be giving a performance in a production warehouse in Birmingham! The current crisis means that the orchestra is unable to give a public concert, but the location at PRG's Live Stage Studio means that the full symphony orchestra can perform in a socially distanced manner. The orchestra's chief conductor Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla is on maternity leave and for the celebratory performance the CBSO will be conducted by Sir Simon Rattle who was its chief conductor from 1980 to 1998 and who did so much to cement the orchestra's international reputation.

The programme for the concert includes Camille Saint-Saens' Cello Concerto No. 1 with cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason (who made his debut recording with the orchestra), Stravinsky's Suite from Firebird (the suite premiered in 1919, the year before the orchestra's debut, and it was the first piece played at the new Symphony Hall in Birmingham when Simon Rattle conducted the CBSO in 1991), AR Rahman's Slumdog Millionaire Suite (based on Rahman's music for the film, and featuring sitar player Roopa Panesar), Elgar's Serenade for Strings (which featured at the orchestra's first concert), and a new work, Hannah Kendall's The Spark Catchers.

The concert will be broadcast on the CBSO's Facebook page and YouTube channel.

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