The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (CBSO) today announced that it will celebrate the 100th anniversary of its first ever concert with a landmark performance which will be live streamed on Facebook and YouTube. The CBSO’s centenary concert will take place at a production warehouse in Birmingham, which is large enough for the orchestra to perform in while adhering to social distancing measures, without a live audience present.
The performance, on Saturday 5 September, will be broadcast on the same day at 7pm on the CBSO’s Facebook and YouTube channels and will be available to stream free of charge until the end of September.
Former Music Director Sir Simon Rattle, who has been handed the baton by the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra’s current Music Director, Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla, while she is on maternity leave, will conduct the varied programme. The CBSO’s centenary concert will feature star cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason performing Saint-Saёns’ Cello Concerto No. 1. After winning the BBC Young Musician competition in 2016 Sheku Kanneh-Mason recorded his debut album, Inspiration, with the orchestra which peaked at No. 11 in the UK Official Album Chart following his performance at the Royal Wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in May 2018. Listen to Sheku Kanneh-Mason performing ‘The Swan’, from The Carnival Of The Animals by Saint-Saёns’, one of the world’s best-loved cello melodies, with the CBSO Cellos, on his debut album Inspiration.
The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra’s centenary concert will take place 100 years to the day of the orchestra’s first concert, on Sunday 5 September 1920, when the then City of Birmingham Orchestra (CBO) performed under the baton of their Principal Conductor, Appleby Matthews. The orchestra gave their first full symphonic performance two months later, on 10 November 1920, with Edward Elgar conducting a concert of his own works.
Music Director, Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla, explained, “This is a very special moment for the orchestra. These are extraordinary circumstances, but it has been a wonderful task and challenge to devise this programme for both the orchestra and our audiences. When we were thinking about our centenary season, we chose works that have a special connection with the CBSO story, both past and present. It has felt like an intense conversation with the past and an opportunity to look ahead to the next chapter in the Orchestra’s story. One of the CBSO’s core values has always been innovation, and one of our tasks for the next 100 years is to make sure that continues.”
The performance will explore the work, history and future of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, one of the world’s most renowned orchestras, through a mixture of live music, recorded interviews and projected imagery. The programme will include Schumann’s Genoveva – Overture, Elgar’s Serenade For Strings, which was performed in the orchestra’s first concert, Saint-Saёns Cello Concerto No. 1, performed by Sheku Kanneh-Mason, Stravinsky’s 1919 Suite from The Firebird, which is almost exactly as old as the orchestra and was the first music heard in Birmingham’s Symphony Hall with Sir Simon Rattle in April 1991, Hannah Kendall’s The Spark Catchers, representing the orchestra’s ongoing commitment to new music, and AR Rahman’s Slumdog Millionaire Suite featuring Roopa Panesar on sitar.