City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra Announces 2023-24 Season

By Chris Ruel
Kazuki Yamada/courtesy of CBSO

The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (CBSO) has unveiled its 2023-24 season, and it’s full to the brim with opportunities to hear some of the world’s finest music and musicians.

With over 12 months of programming, the Orchestra has something for everyone. The Orchestra will also celebrate the 50th anniversary of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra Chorus, staging epic, choral work, including Verdi’s Requiem and Berlioz’s “The Damnation of Faust.”

For this article, only choral/vocal concerts are listed.

The season starts big right out of the gate with the presentation of Verdi’s Requiem, the composer’s “most thrilling opera he never wrote.” The concert opens the season with CBSO’s Artistic Advisor Kazuki Yamada on the podium, conducting the Orchestra’s 90 musicians.

Featured soloists include soprano Evelina Dobračeva, mezzo-soprano Karen Cargill, tenor Dmytro Popov, and bass Ashley Riches.

Performance Date: Sept. 14, 2023

The full Orchestra will celebrate classical music in films such as “Dunkirk,” “Fatal Attraction,” and “Tár,” with “Classics at the Movies.” The program includes Mozart’s “The Marriage of Figaro” Overture, Elgar’s Nimrod, Offenbach’s ‘Can Can’ and Puccini’s ‘One Fine Day.’

Soprano Máire Flavin joins the Orchestra under the baton of Stephen Bell.

Performance Date: Sept. 29, 2023

The CBSO fetes the easy-listening tunes of Burt Bacharach with “Burt Bacharach: What the World Needs Now.” Richard Balcombe conducts the chorus, with singers Graham Bickley, Abbie Osmon, Katie Birtill, and Joanna Francis performing ‘What the World Needs Now,’ ‘Magic Moments,’ ‘Walk on By,’ and many others.

Performance Date: Nov. 3, 2023

The unique combination of Sufi poetry, Indian Classical dance, and orchestral arrangements come together in the “Orchestral Qawwali Project.”

Billed as a goose-bump-inducing evening, the performance features multi-instrumentalist, composer, and music director Rushil Ranjan; Abi Sampa (lead vocalist and harmonium); Parkash Pal (Tabla); George Kakas (Harmonium); Lydia Alonso (Cello); and Vidya Patel (Dancer). Ben Palmer conducts.

Performance Date: Nov. 26, 2023

The CBSO Choruses celebrate 40 years of Simon Halsey as the CBSO’s Choral Director. “Simon Halsey: 40 Years” will feature the music of Handel, Britten, Parry, and others.

Soprano Jennifer France, tenor Allan Clayton, and the CBSO Chorus, Youth Chorus, and Children’s Chorus will perform. Halsey conducts.

Performance Date: Nov. 30, 2023

Conductor Simon Halsey will lead organist and presenter Anna Lapwood, the CBSO Chorus, Youth Chorus, Children’s, and So Vocal in a celebration of Christmas, performing songs old and new. “Choral Christmas with Anna Lapwood” will tell the Story of Christmas during the first half before the CBSO lets loose with holiday tunes after the interval.

Performance Date: Dec. 20, 2023

The CBSO returns to the movies with “Christmas at the Movies.”The program comprises music from beloved holiday films, such as “The Polar Express,” “Miracle on 34th Street,” “Home Alone,” and more.

Michael England conducts, with vocalists Gary Williams and Louise Dearman.

Performance Date: Dec. 21, 2023

Kicking off 2024, the CBSO will present “Viennese New Year” with soprano Francesca Chiejina and featuring the music of Smetana, Lehár, and J. Strauss.

Austrian maestro Christoph Koncz conducts.

Performance Date: Jan. 7, 2024

The CBSO presents the music of the Rat Pack crooners Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Sammy Davis, Jr., in “Symphonic Rat Pack.” On the program are classic tunes such as “I Get a Kick Out of You,” “Mack the Knife,” “Fly Me to the Moon,” and others.

The concert features singers Stephen Triffit, Mark Adams, and George Daniel. Alfonso Casado Trigo conducts.

Performance Date: Jan. 26, 2024

On Valentine’s Day, the CBSO presents two great Romantic composers, Tchaikovsky and Beethoven, in a program featuring “Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture,” The ‘Letter Scene’ from “Eugene Onegin,” and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 2.

Welsh soprano Natalya Romaniw performs, with Vassily Sinaisky on the podium.

Performance Date: Feb. 14, 2024

Broadway comes to Birmingham for CBSO’s “Best of Broadway” concert, with music from such beloved musicals as “Fiddler on the Roof,” “West Side Story,” “Chicago,” and others.

Singers include Sophie Evans, Alice Fearn, Rob Houchen, and Scott Davies. Michael England conducts.

Performance Date: Feb. 16, 2024

Sakari Conducts Sibelius & Strauss” brings soprano Anu Komsi and Finnish conductor Sakari Oramo together in a program featuring music by Sibelius, Merikanto, and R. Strauss.

Performance Date: Feb. 28, 2024

The CBSO will present a performance of the hauntingly beautiful Fauré’s Requiem, showcasing the CBSO Chorus, Youth Chorus, and Children’s Chorus. Baritone soloist Benjamin Appl joins the Choruses in this presentation conducted by Alexandre Bloch.

Performance Date: Mar. 21, 2024

Renowned soprano Danielle de Niese and the CBSO will present “Baroque to Broadway,” tracing the evolution from Handel to Hammerstein. On the program is music by Handel, Jerome Kern, Gershwin, and Vivaldi.

Micahel Seal conducts.

Performance Date: Mar. 22, 2024

In April 2024, Berlioz’s “Damnation of Faust” will be presented in concert format and feature tenor Pene Pati, mezzo-soprano Grace Durham, baritone Nahuel di Pierro, and bass Jonathan Lemalu.

Kazuki Yamada conducts the Orchestra and the CBSO Chorus, Youth Chorus, Children’s Chorus, and men from The Hallé Choir.

Performance Date: Apr.13, 2024

The music of Britten and Tchaikovsky will be spotlighted in “Britten and Beethoven” and feature tenor Ian Bostridge and conductor Gergely Madaras in performances of Britten’s “Les Illuminations” and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No.1. “Dreaming” by Thovaldsdottir will also be presented.

Performance Date: Apr. 17, 2024

An evening of “French Fantasies” awaits in May with music by Debussy, Ravel, and Stravinsky, performed by the CBSO Youth Chorus with soprano Elizabeth Llewellyn. Jérémie Rhorer conducts.

Performance Date: May 9, 2024

Joshua Weilerstein conducts the Orchestra and CBSO Chorus in a presentation of Dvořák’s New World Symphony. Also on the program is music by Caroline Shaw and Leonard Bernstein.

Performance Date: May 15, 2024

The CBSO, with the University of Birmingham Voices, will perform “Amadeus: Film with Live Orchestra,” providing a live soundtrack to the film. Benjamin Pope conducts.

Performance Date: May 17, 2024

In June, John Luther Adams’ “Vespers of the Blessed Earth“–a CBSO commission–will have its U.K. premiere. Adams’ work evokes the wonders and beauty of nature, from clouds and canyons to endangered birds. The program also includes Sibelius’ Symphony No. 2. Ludovic Morlot conducts the Orchestra and CBSO Chorus.

Performance Date: June 6, 2024

The CBSO season concludes with a performance of “Madam Butterfly,” Puccini’s heartbreaking work about love and betrayal. Japanese soprano Maki Mori sings the role of Cio-Cio San, with Pene Pati as Pinkerton, Christopher Purves as Sharpless, and the CBSO Chorus. Kazuki Yamada conducts.