Friday 7 May 2010


Just ahead of the World Cup, when all eyes will be on South Africa, Birmingham will receive a rare visit from the ?elder statesman? of South African music, jazz trumpeter Hugh Masekela. The esteemed musician returns to Symphony Hall on Friday 7 May to join the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Town Hall Gospel Choir and CBSO Young Voices, conducted by Michael Seal, for an evening of inspirational songs and instrumental music from South Africa. Alongside Masekela classics such as Grazing in the Grass (which topped the US charts in 1968) are township songs, lullabies and love songs, Jason Yarde?s brilliant Concerto for Masekela?s soaring flugelhorn All Souls Seek Joy, and a new piece devised by Masekela especially for the occasion.

An accompanying exhibition, ?South Africa – A Brighter Flame?, by the renowned Birmingham photographer Pogus Caesar, captures the lives and spirit of the South African people in a series of evocative black and white images. And setting things in motion, the evening?s free Rush Hour Blues session is led by Zdinoera African Blues Band.

Now in his 70s, Hugh Masekela symbolises the triumph of music through the oppression of apartheid and has become a living legend whose music reflects the struggles and sorrows, joys and passions of his country. From the time he was given his first trumpet at the age of 14 he combined different jazz styles with traditional African influences. Assisted by some influential figures in the musical world, including Yehudi Menuhin, John Dankworth, Harry Belafonte and Dizzy Gillespie, he began a nomadic life which saw him leave South Africa in the early 1960s to study in London and the US. It was not until 1990 that he was able to return to South Africa permanently – his first solo tour of the country lasted four months.

Renowned Birmingham photographer Pogus Caesar?s exhibition, ?South Africa – A Brighter Flame? features compelling images of street scenes from his visit to Johannesburg and Cape Town in 2007. The photographs include portraits of the South African urban landscapes moving from the territories of the townships to the framework of the city. Selected from over 700 in Caesar?s OOM Gallery Archive, the images capture a moment in African history and reveal not only its glory but also the aftermath, not always portrayed in the media.

?Hugh Masekela and the CBSO? is at Symphony Hall on Friday 7 May at 7.30pm. Tickets are available from Town Hall & Symphony Hall Box Office on 0121 780 3333 or www.thsh.co.uk.

?South Africa – A Brighter Flame?, an exhibition of images by Pogus Caesar, is on Symphony Hall?s Level 4 foyer from 20 April to 4 June, admission to the exhibition is free.

Rush Hour Blues is on Symphony Hall Level 3 foyer from 5.30pm on Friday 7 May, admission free.


Note to Editors

A BBC4 programme ‘Hugh Masekela: Welcome to South Africa’ is scheduled for broadcast on 30 April at 9pm. more


Friday 7 May, 7.30pm Symphony Hall
City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra
Michael Seal conductor
Hugh Masekela flugelhorn
Jason Yarde saxophones
Town Hall Gospel Choir
CBSO Young Voices (in partnership with Birmingham Music Service)
Songs and instrumental music from South Africa
Tickets: £5-£37.50, discounts available
This concert is promoted jointly by Town Hall Symphony Hall and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra
Event page

Tuesday 20 April-Friday 4 June, 10am-5pm and during evening concerts
Symphony Hall Level 4 Foyer
Photographs by Pogus Caesar
Admission free
Event page

Friday 7 May, 5.30pm
Symphony Hall Level 3 foyer
Admission free
Event page

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra
Town Hall & Symphony Hall

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The CBSO: In 2020 the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra will celebrate its centenary. Since the inaugural concert, conducted by Sir Edward Elgar in 1920, the CBSO has grown a worldwide reputation. 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 five talented and renowned choruses, a youth orchestra as well as an education and outreach programme that engages with over 50,000 people each year. The CBSO is a charity which is core funded by the Arts Council of England and Birmingham City Council.

Town Hall Gospel Choir was established in 2007, with the help of leading a cappella group Black Voices, to perform at the re-opening concert of Town Hall Birmingham. The community choir has since performed with Black Voices, Sir Willard White at Town Hall, and at ArtsFest. Town Hall Gospel Choir is supported by Arts Council England and the Roughley Charitable Trust.

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 and Community department reaches a further 10,000 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).

Fiona Fraser
Press & PR Manager
E Fiona.fraser@thsh.co.uk
T 0121 644 5008 (Direct)

Lyle Bignon
Assistant Press & PR Manager
E lyle.bignon@thsh.co.uk
T 0121 644 6028 (Direct)

Issue date: 22 March 2010