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Classical Music Season at Birmingham Town Hall and Symphony Hall

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by Andy Coleman (subscribe)
I'm a freelance writer living in Birmingham. I like Classic Rock, 70s pop music, football and interviewing celebrities. Follow me on Twitter: @andycoleman9
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Something for everyone at city centre venues
Classical music lovers in Birmingham will be spoilt for choice over the next 12 months thanks to the wide variety of concerts staged at the city's Town Hall and Symphony Hall.

The year-long series is one of the largest and most important programmes of visiting orchestras and classical musicians in the UK.

The Birmingham Classical season opens on October 3, 2016, with the only British artist selected for the prestigious 2016/17 'Rising Stars' season, violinist Tamsin Waley-Cohen.

Birmingham Town Hall, Birmingham Symphony Hall, Classical Music Season, Tamsin Waley-Cohen
Rising star: Tamsin Waley-Cohen


The focus on British orchestras includes the Ulster Orchestra, conducted by Rafael Payare on May 8, 2017, celebrating their 50th anniversary at Symphony Hall this season. The programme of Brahms' Violin Concerto and Sibelius' First Symphony will be a debut performance in Birmingham's great hall. Accompanying this will be a solo from Alina Ibragimova with Brahms' acclaimed Violin Concerto.

The 2016/17 repertoire also sees a number of British orchestras make their Birmingham debut. The Aurora Orchestra, conducted by Nicholas Collon, perform Brahms' Symphony No 1 completely from memory, on June 4, 2017.

The British Paraorchestra, the world's first professional ensemble for disabled musicians, will perform Corelli's La Folia and Lloyd Coleman's Towards Harmony in their Birmingham debut, on February 18, 2017.

Russian highlights include the most celebrated of Russian orchestras, the St Petersburg Philharmonic under the baton of Yuri Temirkanov, with Nikolai Lugansky on piano. Performing on January 26, 2017, the orchestra will show their mettle in two of Russia's most spectacular orchestral showpieces, Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet and Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade.

The Russian theme continues with a visit from the Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra, led by conductor Denis Lotoev, on October 14, 2016. The concert features young Russian pianist Pavel Kolesnikov in a rare performance of Tchaikovsky's Second Piano Concerto.

Birmingham Town Hall, Long Yu, Guangzhou Symphony Orchestra, Birmingham Symphony Hall, Classical Music Season, Tamsin Waley-Cohen
East meets west: Long Yu and the Guangzhou Symphony Orchestra


From China, the Guangzhou Symphony Orchestra under their music director Long Yu perform at Symphony Hall on May 18, 2017. The programme features the first Birmingham performance of film composer Zhao Lin's atmospheric Duo, before East meets West amidst demons, princesses and magical beasts of Stravinsky's The Firebird.

Acclaimed pianist Murray Perahia turns 70 in 2017 and to celebrate he will make a return visit to Symphony Hall on April 5 in an all-Beethoven programme with the Academy of St Martin in the Fields.

Birmingham Town Hall, Birmingham Symphony Hall, Classical Music Season, Tamsin Waley-Cohen, John Malkovich
Final speech: John Malkovich (pic: Nadja Klier)


Theatre infused with the musical prowess of the Symphony Hall organ comes from internationally celebrated actor John Malkovich in Call Me God: The Final Speech Of A Dictator, accompanied by Martin Haselböck on organ. Making its UK premier on the Symphony Hall stage on March 21, 2017, Malkovich stands alone against the sound of the mighty Symphony Hall organ in this one-man music-drama.

Other programme highlights include regular visitors such as the Philharmonia performing the much-loved Rachmaninov's Symphony No 1 under the baton of Vladimir Ashkenazy on November 15, 2016. This concert also includes pianist Alice Sara Ott as soloist performing a Piano Concerto by Tchaikovsky.

Birmingham Town Hall, Alice Sara Ott, Birmingham Symphony Hall, Classical Music Season, Tamsin Waley-Cohen, John Malkovich
Pianist: Alice Sara Ott (pic: Marie Staggat)


Beatrice Rana makes a return visit in Bach's Goldberg Variations after causing quite a stir in her debut last season. Rana will perform a solo piano recital on May 9, 2017. Also performing a Bach masterpiece is pianist Angela Hewitt on February 10, 2017 playing all six of Bach's French Suites in what promises to be an extraordinary concert.

Former CBSO Music Director, Sakari Oramo, will perform on May 26, 2017 with the 100-strong BBC Symphony Orchestra for Messiaen's heart-wrenching blockbuster, Turangalîla-Symphonie.

The winner of the RPS Music Award for 'Instrumentalist of the year', Daniil Trifonov, is joined by Vasily Petrenko and The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra for a stand out performance of Prokofiev, Stravinsky and Trifonov's stunning take on Rachmaninov's glittering jazz-infused Fourth Piano Concerto on February 1, 2017.

Opera comes from one of the most remarkable voices of the century, Peruvian tenor Juan Diego Flórez at Symphony Hall on February 21, 2017. This will follow his star performance in Prom 75: The Last Night Of The Proms, a showcase featuring a hand-picked selection of the world's best young singers. The repertoire includes a standout solo piano recital from last year's Brant piano competition winner, Kristiina Rokashevich, on April 24, 2017.

Birmingham Town Hall, Birmingham Symphony Hall, Classical Music Season, Tamsin Waley-Cohen, Juan Diego Flórez
Proms: Juan Diego Flórez (pic: Kristin Hoebermann)


Further recitals include internationally acclaimed tenor Mark Padmore accompanied by Paul Lewis on piano in their variation of Schubert's Die Schone Mullerin on April 30, 2017.

Commenting on the season, Chief Executive of Town Hall and Symphony Hall, Nick Reed, said: "Classical music in Birmingham is positively evolving. Birmingham Classical is what Birmingham International Concert Season has become and fulfils our joint aims of making classical music more accessible to a broader more diverse audience, whilst maintaining Birmingham's position as a world leading destination for bringing to town some of the world's most sought after performers and top orchestras.''
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Why? First class classical music in the heart of Birmingham
When: October 3, 2016 - June 4, 2017
Phone: 0121 780 3333
Where: Birmingham Town Hall and Symphony Hall
Cost: Various
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