A New Year of music - THSH artist and staff picks

Now that 2013 (which was a great year for us) is done, dusted and fading into the annals of time, we’ve turned our collective thoughts to the year ahead.

And what a promising 12 months it is, dear music fans!

With well over 600 events to choose from in 2014 – though not all are announced or on sale yet – we’ve called on the picking power of THSH artists and staff to help guide you through the events on offer at Town Hall, Symphony Hall and venues across the city this year.

Read on for more, and if you’ve already chosen or bought tickets for what may well be the musical highlights of your new year, we’d love to know what they are – tell us via Disqus below, Twitter or Facebook. We’re all ears!

“For a unique experience: Psycho Live. For atmosphere and technique: Transatlantic Sessions. For adventure and unpredictability: 2014 BANFF Mountain Film Festival. For a laugh: Alan Davies. For energy and spontaneity: Tomorrow’s Warriors, Nerija & the Jazzlines Trio. For intensity and thought: St John Passion. And, just for fun: The Gruffalo.”

– Rosie, Front of House

“It has to be BB&C: Tim Berne, Jim Black and Nels Cline. I think Jim is one of the most creative drummers performing today and this will be a very exciting trio.”

– Jonathan, BBC Performing Arts Fund Fellow

“Having never got the chance to see Acoustic Ladyland live, I’m very thankful to the Jazzlines team for programming Polar Bear this year. But my most anticipated gig of 2014 has to be Rodriguez. I caught him at Glastonbury this year on the recommendation of a friend, but now having finally seen Searching for Sugarman and understanding the context behind the music, the show’s going to be even more incredible.”

– Matt, Marketing

“I’m very much looking forward to relaxing on a Friday evening to some of the wonderful free jazz happening in the Symphony Hall Cafe Bar. Always a great way to unwind after a long week. I think the Steve Ajao Quartet is definitely one I’d like to catch and then also REALMS who I am rather curious about.”

– Mohini, Education & Community

“The San Francisco Symphony Orchestra. Visits from US orchestras are becoming more and more rare, and this wonderful ensemble of musicians hasn’t been to Birmingham in twenty years. So I’m really looking forward to hearing them, with their superb music director, Michael Tilson Thomas, in March.”

– Andrew, Chief Executive

“Having spent five days in the Scottish Highlands over the Christmas break, I’m super looking forward to the 2014 BANFF Mountain Film Festival. It’ll bring back memories of awesome holidays had, and I’m sure it will inspire some exciting new adventures!”

– Natalie, Facilities

“Although I am a massive Lovano-head, and am also a big fan of the National Youth Orchestra (I saw their performance of Turangalila Symphony last year which blew me away), the concert I am most excited about in 2014 is the CBSO’s performance of Bartok’s Bluebeard’s Castle at the beginning of July.

I only recently started listening to Bartok’s music after having heard a really amazing performance of his Concerto for Orchestra in Symphony Hall last year, and have since started listening to a lot of his music. Although I have a recording of Bluebeard’s Castle, I have been waiting to see a live performance of it before listening to the recording, so this is an exciting one for me!”

– Lluis, Jazzlines Fellow

“I’m quite taken with the performance of KODO in February. I loved the Mugenkyo Taiko Drummers who I saw at Town Hall a couple of years ago but this production sounds absolutely stunning. It’s so rare that we get the opportunity to see art forms from other cultures such at this and to have a mixture of both music and dance is inspired. I’m gutted that I can’t actually go to see it as I teach on Monday evenings and desperately wish there was a ‘catch up’ button on our website!”

– Cheryl, Management Administration

“My choices are the showcases to be performed by three of our Jazzlines Fellows in late March and early April. It has been wonderful to have these Fellows ‘in house’ and to see how their projects have developed. I think these will be truly unique concerts and I am really looking forward to hearing what Jonathan Silk and his big band, Lluis Mather with his Nonet, and Dan Nicholls’ with Point X come up with. The fourth showcase with Percy Pursglove will come later in the year.”

– Tony, Jazzlines

“I’d like to add Salsa Celtica and Transatlantic Sessions as my highlights for 2014. Salsa Celtica – looking forward to the new album and the UK tour, which starts with their return visit to Town Hall in March! Transatlantic Sessions – after the success of the previous years’ events, I’m really looking forward to the unique atmosphere inside Symphony Hall that is created by this gathering of musicians.”

– Chris P, Programming

“The Lexicon of Love by ABC was one of the great albums of the early 1980s. It is unquestionably one of my all time favourite albums. Getting the opportunity to see the whole thing performed with full orchestra in one of the finest concert halls in the world will be a real treat in March.”

– Nick, Facilties

“Having been stunned by the film Searching for Sugarman, I am thrilled to have the opportunity to see Rodriguez on stage here in Birmingham.”

– Liz, Front of House

“When I was little, all long car journeys seemed to be accompanied by one of two albums, The Beautiful South’s Blue is the Warmest Colour was one of them and Crowded House’s Woodface the other. Because I’m a good daughter I’ll be going to see Neil Finn with my Dad in April. He assures me that Finn’s solo stuff is fantastic, and having had a listen (on a different long car journey) I agree – but am really hoping they’ll be some Crowded House material thrown in too for old time’s sake!”

– Abi, Communications

“I decided to focus on the amazing Jazzlines events this year and it’s still been really hard to choose a single event but I am going to opt for Sons of Kemet at the Hare and Hounds because you get Seb Rochford’s wonderful drumming (and hair) AND hardcore tuba basslines provided by the wonderful Oren Marshall. Stormin!”

– Sam, Artist-in-Residence

“Tut tut. I’ve missed the last two Birmingham dates from New York singer-songwriter Suzanne Vega, so I’ll be camping outside overnight in February to make sure I make her third Town Hall gig. And as magical and memorable experiences go, it really can’t get much better than seeing the humble and inspirational star of Searching For SugarmanRodriguez play Symphony Hall in March. I’ll lay money on the gig being an absolute ‘were you there?’ live experience.

Liquid Spirit, the soulful third album from Blue Note’s talented jazzman Gregory Porter, has been on constant rotation at home and work over the past three or four months. I can’t wait for what will hopefully be one of those extraordinary transcendental moments where music jumps off the record (or a Spotify playlist in my case) and onto the stage, filling the ears and heads of a sold-out Town Hall audience.”

Lyle, Communications

Image: TattooedJJ