Summer Showcase

Symphony Hall, Birmingham

Thursday 25th June, 2.15pm


  • Strauss  Suite in B flat major for 13 winds, 25′
  • Shostakovich Chamber Symphony, 20′
  • Reich  Music for Pieces of Wood, 8′
  • Cage  First Construction in Metal, 9′
  • Mussorgsky (arr. Howarth)  Pictures at an Exhibition, 30′

Our orchestra is made up of 83 extraordinary artists, and today they step into the limelight. The CBSO woodwinds share Strauss’s delightful Suite, and our strings play their hearts out in Shostakovich’s white-hot Chamber Symphony. Then the percussion section sets up a rhythm in two stunning contemporary classics – and a spectacular, all-brass version of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition proves that a great orchestra is the sum of some seriously impressive parts!

Alpesh Chauhan to stay at CBSOarticle by Christopher Morley


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Review by David Hart, Birmingham Post:

Click here for full review

…     “For the brass Elgar Howarth’s imaginative arrangement of Mussorgky’s Pictures at an Exhibition showed just what exciting sounds can be drawn from an expanded palette of brass colours (especially when played with such firm-of-lip panache) and a conductor alert to good balance.

The two percussion items were less rewarding. Steve Reich’s Music for Pieces of Wood might be an intriguing rhythmic exercise, but quickly outstays its 8-minute duration; and the huge array of instruments in John Cage’s First Construction (in Metal), which Chauhan conducted with military four-in-a-bar precision, certainly tickled the ears although, by today’s standards, its inventiveness seemed disappointingly limited.

Shostakovich’s Chamber Symphony for strings, however, was quite different. With its four-note motif an ever-present symbol of the composer’s torment and despair, and the cello solos of Eduardo Vassallo singing songs of forlorn memory, this was a stunningly moving performance, made even more so by the unobtrusive direction of concert master Laurence Jackson. When musicians listen so intently to each other who needs a conductor?”    

Bach to the Future

30 November 2013 at 7.00pm

Symphony Hall, Birmingham +44 (0)121 345 0600

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra 

Pekka  Kuusisto   director / violin

Reich: Triple Quartet 15′

Bach: Violin Concerto in E major 17′

Reich: Violin Phase 15′ Listen on Spotify
Bach: Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 12′

Adams: Shaker Loops 28′

Vibrant, colourful, and   buzzing with energy: the American minimalist music of John Adams and Steve Reich   has swept through contemporary culture like a blast of pure oxygen. But there’s   nothing minimalist about its emotional power, and in this life-affirming programme   directed by the inspirational Finnish violinist Pekka Kuusisto, it’s the perfect   complement to two of Bach’s most tuneful masterpieces. Three masters speak to   each other across three centuries: this is music to refresh heart and soul in   equal measure.

Due to the popularity of the Birmingham Christmas Market please allow ample time for your journey to Symphony Hall.

Pop up performance: The CBSO’s Leo Quartet performed Steve Reich’s   Different Trains

If you like this concert, you might also like:

Mozart’s Gran Partita, Wednesday 26th February

Summer Serenade, Thursday 5th June

Thomas Adès: New Horizons, Wednesday 11th June



Review by David Hart, Birmingham Post:

Click here for full review

…     “The director/soloist was Finnish violinist Pekka Kuusisto, whose disarming charm and informality (including busking Scandinavian folk dances during platform rearrangements) was clearly a hit with the audience. His Bach interpretations were just as quirkily individual, tonally unforced and even pallid at times, with some phrases allowed to almost disappear into inaudibility – though in full flow he resorted to some very scratchy articulation, which the supportive, small CBSO string group led by Laurence Jackson wisely did not emulate.”     …