Bringing the best in the world to perform on Birmingham's two great stages

Town Hall and Symphony Hall unveil the 2014/15
Birmingham International Concert Season

  • International visits from the St Petersburg, Czech and Dresden Philharmonics, Camerata Salzburg, Europa Galante and Australian Chamber Orchestra
  • Hong Kong Philharmonic makes Symphony Hall debut
  • Maria Schneider Jazz Orchestra in first Birmingham visit
  • Fisk Jubilee Singers return to Town Hall after 140 years for two concerts
  • Mariinsky Stradivarius Ensemble with Valery Gergiev and Mariinsky Chorus mini-residency
  • Two James MacMillan premieres from City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and Ex Cathedra
  • Season opener: pianist Daniil Trifonov Birmingham recital debut
  • Piano focus: debuts from Yundi, Hélène Grimaud (recital debut) and Lara Melda. Recitals from Benjamin Grosvenor, Marc-André Hamelin and Igor Levit
  • Recital debuts: Paul Jacobs (organ), Marie-Elisabeth Hecker (cello)
  • Appearances by violinist Nicola Benedetti, tenor Mark Padmore, and the Takács and Borodin Quartets
  • Young musicians and award-winners throughout the series
  • Opera performances: Handel’s Hercules with The English Concert and Opera North’s The Flying Dutchman

Town Hall and Symphony Hall has announced details of the 2014/15 Birmingham International Concert Season. The extensive series is one of the largest and most important international seasons of visiting orchestras and musicians in the UK. Bringing the best in the world to perform on Birmingham’s two great stages, the season welcomes orchestras, ensembles, conductors and soloists from Hong Kong and China, Australia, Canada and the US, across Europe and throughout the UK. Alongside artists with established international reputations, the season is also characterised by the remarkable number of talented young musicians in the early stages of their own promising careers.

The season opens on Wednesday 1 October with what is sure to be a thrilling Birmingham recital debut by the young Russian pianist Daniil Trifonov. Winner of the Rubinstein and Tchaikovsky competitions, this young star (born in 1991) has already given debuts in many of the world’s most prestigious halls and performed with the greatest orchestras and conductors. His Town Hall recital includes Bach, Beethoven and Liszt’s Transcendental Etudes.

Highlights from international orchestras include the Hong Kong Philharmonic’s first appearance in Symphony Hall. Under its Music Director Jaap van Zweden, the orchestra includes a piece by its 35-year old resident composer, Fung Lam, in its programme and is joined by Chinese violinist Ning Feng, also making his Birmingham debut, for Beethoven’s Violin Concerto. The Czech Philharmonic under Jirí Belohlávek gives an exclusive UK performance of Mahler’s Resurrection Symphony – a work with which Symphony Hall is particularly associated – and Josef Špacek is soloist in Bruch’s Violin Concerto No 1. The St Petersburg Philharmonic and Yuri Temirkanov offer an all-Russian concert while Michael Sanderling and the Dresden Philharmonic perform an all-German programme which features the young German soloist Arabella Steinbacher in the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto.

Taking an evening off from their Ring cycle at Birmingham Hippodrome, Valery Gergiev and the celebrated string section of the Mariinsky Orchestra – the Mariinsky Stradivarius Ensemble – perform Strauss’s Metamorphosen at Town Hall. This will be Valery Gergiev’s first performance in Town Hall since 1991. The following evening, the spotlight falls on the Mariinsky Chorus in Rachmaninov’s Vespers.

Symphony Hall’s resident orchestra, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, gives the UK premiere of James MacMillan’sSt Luke Passion, a large-scale choral work conducted by the composer. Then Jeffrey Skidmore leads Town Hall Associate Artist Ex Cathedra in the world premiere of James MacMillan’s Seven Angels in a concert which also includes the world premiere of Roxanna Panufnik’s Since We Parted.

Opera comes from The English Concert with a concert performance of Handel’s Hercules, and Opera North makes a very welcome return in Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman with visuals. There is vocal music ancient and modern from the Tallis Scholars, and two concerts from the Fisk Jubilee Singers, a legendary name in the African-American Spiritual tradition who last performed at the Town Hall in 1874. The second of their concerts features Town Hall Associate Artist, Birmingham’s own internationally-acclaimed Black Voices.

A Mozart thread runs through many of the chamber orchestra concerts during the season. Steven Osborne joins Richard Tognetti’s Australian Chamber Orchestra as soloist in Mozart’s Piano Concerto No 27 in a concert which also includes a new work from Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood, while violinist Nicola Benedetti plays Mozart’s Violin Concerto No 5, Turkish with the Camerata Salzburg. A fascinating programme from the Britten Sinfonia contrasts Mozart and Stravinsky with soprano Barbara Hannigan. A ‘living history’ strand of historically informed performance includes Robert Levin as soloist in two Mozart piano concertos (Nos 24 & 25) with The Academy of Ancient Music directed by Christopher Hogwood, and Fabio Biondi’s Europa Galante (in its 25th anniversary year) in an all-Vivaldi programme.

In another UK exclusive, the Maria Schneider Jazz Orchestra makes its long-awaited Birmingham debut and first UK performance since 2008. Part of Town Hall and Symphony Hall’s Jazzlines programme, their mini-residency will include further performances and inspiring education work.

An extensive programme of chamber music includes recitals from some of the world’s greatest pianists. There’s a Birmingham debut from the Chinese piano sensation Yundi, who became the youngest winner of the Chopin Piano Competition in 2000 when he was just 18. He plays the composer’s Four Ballades and 24 Preludes in his Town Hall recital programme. Another hot ticket is sure to be Hélène Grimaud’s Birmingham recital debut at Town Hall where she offers a wide-ranging programme including Albéniz, Janácek and Debussy. Canadian Marc-André Hamelin includes his own variations on Paganini’s famous theme in his recital, and Benjamin Grosvenor plays Bach, Franck and Granados. Tenor Mark Padmore performs Schubert’s great song cycle Winterreise with pianist Paul Lewis, Grammy Award-winner American organist Paul Jacobs gives a Symphony Hall recital, and German partnership Marie-Elisabeth Hecker and Martin Helmchen play Rachmaninov’s sonata for cello and piano. Two great string quartets appear in Birmingham during the season – the Borodin Quartet as part of their 70th Anniversary World Tour and perennial favourites, the Takács Quartet.

Young award-winning artists are at the heart of the 14/15 Birmingham International Concert Season. Pianist Igor Levit (recitalist) and violinist Leticia Moreno (concerto soloist with the St Petersburg Philharmonic) are both recent ECHO Rising Stars recitalists who performed at Town Hall in 2013 and 2014 respectively, an affirmation of that series as a discoverer of emerging talent. Igor also won ‘Newcomer of the Year’ at the 2014 BBC Music Magazine Awards. There are two concerts by the Heath Quartet, winners of the Royal Philharmonic Society’s prestigious Young Artists Award in 2013 and recitals by pianists Alexander Panfilov (Birmingham’s 2013 Brant International Piano Competition winner) and Lara Melda (2010 BBC Young Musician of the Year competition winner). Former CBSO Youth Orchestra member, Shropshire-born Ben Gernon conducts the Camerata Salzburg with Nicola Benedetti as soloist and, concluding the Season with a flourish, Sir Mark Elder conducts the exceptional players of the National Youth Orchestra in Mahler’s Ninth Symphony.

Commenting on the Season, Andrew Jowett OBE, Chief Executive of Town Hall & Symphony Hall said, “The Birmingham International Concert Season is long-established as a cornerstone of Birmingham’s international cultural reputation, welcoming visiting musicians and audiences into the city and presenting one of the UK’s most important and influential concert series for its residents to enjoy. We continue to keep prices as low as possible: tickets again start at £9.50* for every concert this season and some prices have been reduced and there is a wide range of discounts. We gratefully acknowledge the support of our principal funders Birmingham City Council, together with Arts Council England, our supporters and donors whose financial commitment and loyalty is essential to maintain such an outstanding season of internationally-recognised musicians.”

Further information is available from

ENDS #bics1415

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Town Hall and Symphony Hall are managed together by Performances Birmingham Limited, a Registered Charity No 1053937. Between them, the two halls present an exciting and varied programme of around 800 concerts and events a year, connecting people of all ages and backgrounds to music from jazz, folk, world, roots and classical, to rock and pop. Over 500,000 people visit Town Hall and Symphony Hall annually, and almost 12,000 young people and 6,000 adults participate in the thriving Education and Community programme.

Town Hall Birmingham re-opened in October 2007 following a £35m renovation funded by Birmingham City Council (£18.3m), Heritage Lottery Fund (£13.7m), European Regional Development Fund (£3m).

Funded by Birmingham City Council | Supported using public funding by Arts Council England

Fiona Fraser/Lyle Bignon/Abi Barrington
Communications Manager/Assistant Communications Manager/Communications Assistant
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2 May 2014