One of the biggest musical collaborations set to take the Birmingham stage by storm

Issued jointly by City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra & Town Hall Symphony Hall Birmingham

Event Info

The voice of Lenin, the sound of gunfire and almost 400 performers will, on Wednesday 14 and Thursday 15 October 2009 at 7.30pm, catapult audiences back to the Russian Revolution as part of one of the most exciting and unique musical collaborations set to take Birmingham by storm. The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and CBSO Chorus and the Orchestra and Chorus of the Mariinsky Theatre will take part in this immense musical spectacle at Symphony Hall, led by one of the most electrifying conductors of our time – Valery Gergiev.

  • Around 170 of the world’s best musicians from St Petersburg and Birmingham will perform together and will include: 90 string players, eight bassoons, four tubas, a military band, six accordionists, plus four brass bands positioned around the auditorium. In the Berlioz, 22 timpani drums that have been collected together for the event from St Petersburg, London, Manchester and Birmingham will be played by eight British and Russian timpanists. The combined result will be a visual as well as aural tour de force.
  • CBSO’s acclaimed amateur chorus of 150 will have spent around 30 hours rehearsing and will need to switch between Russian and Latin as part of this concert; perfecting not just the music but a unified style of singing. For the first time they will be joining forces with 60 members of the Mariinsky’s own professional chorus who have already performed this repertoire internationally including in St Petersburg, New York and Tokyo.
  • The rare and exhilarating Prokofiev Cantata for the 20th Anniversary of the October Revolution has only been played a handful of times. It was seen as too musically revolutionary following its composition in 1937, then too Stalinist to be played in full until after the fall of the Soviet Union. As a result, it had to wait until 1992 for its first complete performance.
  • Berlioz’s Requiem, originally composed to commemorate the dead of the French Revolution, is also a rarity due to the huge forces it employs and the size of the venue required.

These performances will be two of the biggest concerts ever to be presented on Symphony Hall?s stage. With its world-famous acoustics and unique design, Symphony Hall is one of the few concert halls in the UK capable of presenting a project of this size.

These concerts represent a gigantic Anglo-Russian cultural venture on an unprecedented scale, led by an unmissable conducting force – Valery Gergiev. For four days of rehearsals and performances, British and Russian musicians will work closely together to form one huge international ensemble. Gergiev has been a regular visitor to Symphony Hall with his Mariinsky forces ever since the hall opened in 1991. His relationship with the CBSO goes back even further. The CBSO was one of the first UK orchestras to invite Gergiev to work with them; he made his debut with the orchestra in 1989, conducting several concerts over subsequent seasons in Birmingham’s Town Hall, and visiting Symphony Hall before its public opening.

This remarkable collaboration will celebrate a special synergy between the CBSO, the Mariinsky and Birmingham?s Symphony Hall where the CBSO enjoys its residency. Stephen Maddock, Chief Executive of the CBSO said: ‘We are thrilled to be taking part in what will be one of the greatest orchestral spectacles of its kind in the acoustics of one of the best concert halls in the world. Gergiev has an energy that captures the imagination of the audience and, with the sound of gunfire and complete bands in the balconies, those onlookers will certainly be in for a treat.

‘The logistics for an event like this has taken years in the planning. English and Russian speaking players share the common language of music to articulate a time of revolution and devotion on the grandest of scales. It really will be a special night to remember.’

Andrew Jowett, Director, Town Hall & Symphony Hall said: ‘Symphony Hall’s long association with the Mariinsky company goes back to 1991 and we have enjoyed some very memorable concerts indeed. However, this new opportunity which brings Gergiev’s great opera company together with Birmingham’s own celebrated symphony orchestra and chorus in two works of this scale may yet surpass them!’

This concert will be performed on Wednesday 14 & Thursday 15 October, 7.30pm
Symphony Hall Birmingham. Free, pre-concert talks will take place at 6.15pm.
Tickets cost £5-£48 (discounts available). For bookings contact Symphony Hall Box Office: 0121 780 3333 or book online at (a £2 transaction fee is charged on all bookings except those made in person at the box office).


For further information and images please visit or contact: Ruth Green, Communications Manager on: 021 616 6511 or:
Fiona Fraser/Lyle Bignon, Press & PR Manager/Asst Press & PR Manager, Town Hall & Symphony Hall, Birmingham, 0121 644 5008/6028 or / “”
Caroline Gonzalez-Pintado, Chief Executive, Mariinsky Theatre Trust on 0207 241 7462 or

Notes to Editors


Wednesday 14 & Thursday 15 October, 7.30pm
Symphony Hall Birmingham

Orchestra and Chorus of the Mariinsky Theatre
City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra & Chorus
Valery Gergiev conductor
Sergei Semishkur tenor

Prokofiev Cantata for the 20th Anniversary of the October Revolution
Berlioz Grande Messe des Morts (Requiem)

6.15pm free pre-concert talk (both nights)

Tickets: £5-£48 (discounts available)
Box Office 0121 780 3333 or book online at
(a £2 transaction fee is charged on all bookings except those made in person at the box office)

Event page:—mariinsky-and-the-cbso

For ticket availability photo opportunities/interviews, please speak with the above.

These concerts are promoted jointly by the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (CBSO) and Town Hall Symphony Hall Birmingham (THSH) and form part of both the CBSO and the Birmingham International Concert Seasons. They are also supported by the Mariinsky Theatre Trust and JTI.

The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (CBSO) is a world-renowned orchestra at the heart of the UK that has been celebrating music and musical talent for nearly 100 years. The arrival of Andris Nelsons as its Music Director in 2008 has seen the orchestra go from strength to strength with record ticket sales and unprecedented reviews. CBSO Ignite includes activities to attract and engage with audiences including five talented and renowned choruses, a youth orchestra as well as an education and outreach program that inspires over 50,000 people regionally each year. The CBSO is a charity which is core funded by the Arts Council of England and Birmingham City Council.

Town Hall and Symphony Hall are managed together by Performances Birmingham Limited, a registered charity. Between them, the two halls present an exciting and varied programme of over 600 concerts and events a year, designed to appeal to people of all ages and backgrounds. Over 500,000 people visit Town Hall and Symphony Hall annually, and a thriving education/community department reaches a further 20,000 people of all ages. 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).

These performances in Birmingham form the centrepiece of the Mariinsky Opera?s UK tour, 9-18 October, managed by the Mariinsky Theatre Trust. In addition to the Mariinsky/CBSO/Symphony Hall project, the Mariinsky?s tour with Valery Gergiev will include three concerts in the Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff (two of these with Welsh bass-baritone Bryn Terfel) as part of the WMC 5th anniversary celebrations, the opening concert of the 2009 Belfast International Festival (including the first professional performance of Shostakovich?s Leningrad Symphony in Northern Ireland) and the opening concert of the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall?s International Classical Concert series. The Mariinsky Theatre Trust is a UK charity established in 1993 with Valery Gergiev. As well as supporting Mariinsky projects in Russia, the Trust plays an active role in facilitating performances of the Mariinsky?s most innovative projects and repertoire in the UK.

Issued: 1 October 2009