Writing shortly before BCMG’s new season begins, I confess that uppermost in my mind is its closing event. It’s five years since David Lang told me of his yearning to write a piece ‘for 1000 people shouting’, and next June his dream becomes a reality with the premiere of Crowd Out – a work with no instruments, other than the human voice (whispering, chanting, singing as well as shouting) and a work for anyone to perform, BCMG’s musicians alongside…you?! Millennium Point in Birmingham will be a stunning setting for this unique experience.
David Lang first came to BCMG’s attention, more than 20 years ago, thanks to a tip from Oliver Knussen, who opens our main Birmingham season in October with classic works of the last century. I can’t wait to hear his take on Ligeti ‘s sublime Chamber Concerto or the Schoenberg Five Orchestral Pieces, which he conducted brilliantly in its full orchestral version at the Proms a few years ago.
Knussen is back in May to lead a celebration of Harrison Birtwistle ’s 80th birthday, a tribute to a towering figure whose music I love for its endless melodic lines and implacable rituals. Before this though, we join him for BCMG’s debut in Washington DC, part of a special Knussen residency in the Library of Congress, and a great honour.
Back in Birmingham, in April we unveil a new work by Shiori Usui, our striking young Apprentice Composer-in-Residence, and Martyn Brabbins also conducts Howard Skempton ’s moving viola concerto, premiered three years ago by BCMG. Shiori Usui is also featured in our ‘pre-season’ contribution to Birmingham’s 4 Squares Weekender events celebrating the opening of the city’s new Library, with BCMG performances at Ikon Gallery.
Our ever-popular Family Concerts this season will focus on Thomas Adès tour-de-force Living Toys, conducted by the young Swedish conductor Christian Karlsen. Out-of-town, we look forward to touring a new Howard Skempton chamber work in the rural West Midlands in March, co-devised with textile artist Matthew Harris, and our journeys down the M40 to London include a visit to the Wigmore Hall for the London premiere of Elliott Carter ’s typically zestful final work Epigrams. With music elsewhere by Tansy Davies, Niccolo Castiglioni, Helen Grime, Alexander Goehr and others, I hope there are jewels to tempt you time and again to our concerts and events!