Birmingham premiere of Oliver Knussen’s O Hototogisu - fragment of a Japonisme, and the world premiere of David Sawer's Caravanserai, in a thought-provoking concert.

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Sunday 18 November 2018, 4pm
CBSO Centre, Birmingham

This concert was to be conducted by our dearest friend and Artist-in-Association, Oliver Knussen, who sadly passed away on 8 July 2018. Stefan Asbury will now conduct this event.

Oliver Knussen’s composition, O Hototogisu - fragment of a Japonisme, is a beautiful setting of selected haiku for soprano, solo flute and ensemble. The texts weave an intricate image of the Hototogisu - the Lesser Cuckoo - as it calls out high above a Japanese city in the shadow of a mountain. In haiku, its cry simultaneously signals the coming summer and is believed to be a voice from the land of the dead.

This concert features the world premiere of another BCMG commission: Caravanserai. This piece sees musical ideas passed from musician to musician along a line - like goods exchanged along the caravans of history. Join David Sawer as he discusses this intriguing work at 3pm.

The programme opens with Debussy’s Chansons de Bilitis as we continue to mark 100 years since the death of this monumental figure in music, and the Birmingham premiere of the complete cycle of Harrison Birtwistle’s Three Songs from ‘The Holy Forest’; settings of Robin Blaser’s poems ‘The Literalist’, ‘dear dusty moth’ and ‘The Borrower’ - exquisite miniatures that complete a thought-provoking concert.

3pm Pre-concert talk with David Sawer Includes a performance of Sonya’s Lullaby by Oliver Knussen

4pm Concert

Claire Booth Soprano
Marie-Christine Zupancic Solo Flute
Stefan Asbury Conductor

Oliver Knussen (1952-2018) Processionals (1978), 12′
(1862-1918) arr. Boulez (1925-2016) Chansons de Bilitis (1901/1954), 20′
David Sawer (b. 1961) Caravanserai (2016)WP BCMG * , 15′
Harrison Birtwistle (b. 1934) Three Songs from ‘The Holy Forest´ (2016-17), 14′
Oliver Knussen
(b. 1952) O Hototogisu – fragment of a Japonisme BP SI * (2015-16), 9′

BCMG BCMG Commission SI Sound Investment Commisison WP World Premiere BP Birmingham Premiere

*We are extremely grateful to the John Feeney Charitable Trust for their support of these commissions.


CBSO Centre is an accessible venue - you can find access information for CBSO Centre from the CBSO website by clicking here.

If you have any queries about access, please contact Seb Huckle at BCMG on 0121 616 2619 or [email protected].

Booking for this event has now closed.