City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

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The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (CBSO) is a British orchestra based in Birmingham, England. The Orchestra's current chief executive, appointed in 1999, is Stephen Maddock. Since 2008, the CBSO's music director is Andris Nelsons.


Founded by Neville Chamberlain, the orchestra first rehearsed at 9.30am on 4 September 1920, in the band room at the Birmingham City Police's Steelhouse Lane station.[1] The first public performance, as the City of Birmingham Orchestra occurred later that month, with Appleby Matthews, the orchestra's first chief conductor, at the baton. The programme included Overture: Saul by Granville Bantock, a strong supporter of the orchestra's foundation. However, its official foundation is generally reckoned to have been the "First Symphony Concert" in November 1920, when Edward Elgar conducted a programme of his own music in Birmingham Town Hall.

Adrian Boult was chief conductor from 1924 to 1930. The CBO became a full-time organisation in 1944, changing its name to the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra in 1948. Chief conductors since then included Rudolf Schwarz, the composer Andrzej Panufnik, Boult in an emergency return for a season after Panufnik's sudden resignation, Hugo Rignold and Louis Frémaux. During this time, the orchestra made recordings and gave regular concerts.

The CBSO began to gain greater international renown after Simon Rattle became chief conductor in 1980. Under him, the orchestra increased its recording profile and became one of the leading ensembles in Europe, and gained a name for its interpretations of late romantic and 20th century works, especially those of Sibelius and Gustav Mahler. During this period, the orchestra moved from Birmingham Town Hall to a new home venue, Symphony Hall, inside Birmingham's International Convention Centre. The nearby CBSO Centre, a converted factory, houses management offices, rehearsal facilities, and is a concert venue in its own right, for more intimate performances. The CBSO Youth Orchestra has been affiliated with the CBSO since 2004.[2]

Rattle was named music director of the CBSO in 1990. That same year, the post of Radcliffe Composer in Association was created, with Mark-Anthony Turnage filling the role. In 1995 Judith Weir became Fairbairn Composer in Association, followed in 2001 by Julian Anderson.

After Rattle relinquished his posts with the CBSO, the Finnish conductor Sakari Oramo became chief conductor in 1998, and music director in 1999. His CBSO work has included the Floof! festival of contemporary music.[3] He has also championed the music of John Foulds in concerts and recordings.[4][5] In 2008, Oramo stood down as music director and took the title of principal guest conductor for the 2008-2009 season.[6][7]

In October 2007, the CBSO named Andris Nelsons as its 12th music director, effective with the 2008-2009 season.[8] Nelsons' initial contract was for 3 years. The appointment was unusual in that Nelsons had not conducted the CBSO publicly prior to his appointment, but only in a private concert and in a recording session.[9] In July 2009, the orchestra extended Nelsons' contract for another 3 years, through the 2013-2014 season.[10] In August 2012, the CBSO announced the further extension of Nelsons' contract formally through the 2014-2015 season, and then for subsequent seasons on the basis of an annual rolling renewal.[11] In October 2013, the CBSO announced the conclusion of Nelsons' tenure as music director after the conclusion of the 2014-2015 season.[12][13] The CBSO's current principal guest conductor is Edward Gardner, since September 2011, with an initial contract of 3 years, for 34 weeks of concerts per season.[14][15]

In 2001, the players rejected a contract that would have stopped extra payments for broadcasts and recordings, in the context of financial crisis at the CBSO.[16] In addition, other controversy arose from the CBSO's demands from the Arts Council for a greater share of the Council's stabilisation fund, because of its reputation compared to other British orchestras.[17]

The CBSO has recorded substantially for labels such as EMI Classics, Warner Classics,[18] and Orfeo.[19][20][21] The orchestra has also released recordings under its own self-produced label.[22]

In January 2014 Sub Principal Second Violin Catherine Arlidge was awarded the Royal Philharmonic Society's 2014 Salomon Prize, highlighting talent and dedication within UK orchestras.[23]

Chief Conductors and Music Directors

See also

  • City of Birmingham Symphony Chorus
  • City of Birmingham Symphony Youth Chorus
  • City of Birmingham Young Voices
  • CBSO Youth Orchestra


  1. Morley, Christopher, A glorious 90 years, The Birmingham Post, 4 November 2010, p. 4. URL accessed on 17 March 2014.
  2. Christopher Morley, CBSO's future in safe hands, Birmingham Post, 2007-11-29. URL accessed on 23 January 2009.
  3. Tom Service, Floof!, The Guardian, 31 May 2003. URL accessed on 18 August 2007.
  4. Peter Culshaw, Visionary genius of the spirit world, The Telegraph, 2006-04-26. URL accessed on 18 August 2007.
  5. Sakari Oramo, The forgotten man, The Guardian, 28 April 2006. URL accessed on 1 September 2007.
  6. Martin Cullingford, "Oramo to step down as CBSO music director". Gramophone, 22 February 2006.
  7. Terry Grimley, Who will pick up Oramo's baton?, The Birmingham Post, 23 February 2006. URL accessed on 17 August 2007.
  8. Press Release, New direction at CBSO, Birmingham Music, 8 October 2007. URL accessed on 2007-10-08.
  9. Charlotte Higgins, Young Latvian steps up to lead City of Birmingham orchestra, The Guardian, 9 October 2007. URL accessed on 2007-10-10.
  10. Terry Grimley, CBSO's Andris Nelsons to stay for three more years after record season, Birmingham Post, 24 July 2009. URL accessed on 2009-07-25.
  11. City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (16 August 2012). Andris Nelsons renews contract with City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. Press release. Retrieved on 2012-08-19
  12. City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (2 October 2013). The search begins for the new Music Director of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. Press release. Retrieved on 2013-10-03
  13. Graeme Brown, CBSO music director Andris Nelsons to stand down at end of contract, Birmingham Post, 2013-10-02. URL accessed on 2013-10-03.
  14. City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (10 September 2010). Edward Gardner appointed as Principal Guest Conductor of City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. Press release. Retrieved on 2010-09-27
  15. Christopher Morley, Dream come true for Edward Gardner, Birmingham Post, 24 September 2010. URL accessed on 2010-09-27.
  16. David Ward, Top orchestra's cash crisis, The Guardian, 30 May 2001. URL accessed on 2007-08-17.
  17. David Ward, Orchestral discord over money with strings, The Guardian, 2 June 2001. URL accessed on 2007-08-17.
  18. Tim Ashley, Rachmaninov; Piano Concertos 2 & 4, Lugansky/ CBSO/ Oramo, The Guardian, 8 April 2005. URL accessed on 2010-09-28.
  19. Christopher Morley, First love rekindled for Andris Nelsons and CBSO, Birmingham Post, 24 June 2009. URL accessed on 2010-09-28.
  20. Andrew Clements, Strauss: Ein Heldenleben; Rosenkavalier Suite, City of Birmingham SO, Nelsons, The Guardian, 5 February 2010. URL accessed on 2010-09-28.
  21. Tim Ashley, Stravinsky: The Firebird; Symphony of Psalms, The Guardian, 13 May 2010. URL accessed on 2010-09-28.
  22. Anthony Holden, Classical CDs, The Observer, 8 July 2007. URL accessed on 2010-09-28.
  23. [1]

External links

  • City of Birmingham Symphony official site
  • The Symphony Hall Klais organ
This page was last modified 17.03.2014 20:49:55

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