The first ever British-Russian orchestra performs at Symphony Hall

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From the moment they met in 1960, the special friendship between the great composers Benjamin Britten and Dmitri Shostakovich had huge symbolic significance in improving diplomatic and artistic relations. Today that unique bond is about to be celebrated with the formation of the first-ever British-Russian orchestra.


The two composers were separated by the Iron Curtain and language but united by their art and their deep admiration for each others’ music.

The Guardian

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The Britten-Shostakovich Festival Orchestra is a unique bi-national ensemble bringing together young people of conservatoire age in a shared cultural experience. 

The formation of the BSFO marks the 2019 Year of Music, a bilateral initiative between Russia and the United Kingdom. Its ambition is to maintain a dynamic cultural collaboration bringing together young musicians from Russia and the United Kingdom each year to work intensively and present a series of concerts on tour. 


It is a dynamic, forward-moving concept that is so exciting in a world where fragmentation and dissonance seems the norm

Classical Music Magazine

The orchestra will then embark on their first ever tour consisting of five concerts in Russia and seven across the United Kingdom, performing in several of the world’s most prestigious concert halls, including Symphony Hall. 

The orchestra is made up of similar numbers of British and Russian musicians, providing them with an invaluable musical and cultural experience that will leave a lasting impression at a key stage in their development. The public concerts in Russia and the United Kingdom will be the first time that most of these musicians will have experienced such international musical collaboration.


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Jan Latham-Koenig, the British Artistic Director of the Kolobov Novaya Opera in Moscow, will conduct the orchestra for their Birmingham debut next Tuesday and is the only British conductor to occupy such a senior titled position with one of Russia’s leading musical institutions.   

Britten-Shostakovich Festival Orchestra make their first ever Birmingham appearance at Symphony Hall on Tuesday 17 September as part of Town Hall Symphony Hall's Birmingham Classical 2019/20 Season.