Sun 7 April 2024, 4:30 pm

CBSO Centre, Birmingham

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Ticket price: General £15, Student £7.50, under 12’s FREE with paying adult

Let BCMG tell you a story…

With a focus on movement, reflection, and, of course, storytelling, this springtime concert will include the performance of two new theatrical pieces of music, specifically written for all ages.

Ondrej Adamek, who we have had the pleasure of working with through many innovative projects, has created a new piece of music filled with mysticism, poetry, and otherworldly sounds.

To be played alongside it is Hilda Paredes' Abalorios, with her magical 21st-century guide for young people to the contemporary ensemble, echoing Britten’s iconic Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra.

Recently added, thanks to a generous grant from PRS Foundation's Resonate fund, is Sir Harrison Birtwistle's Cortege, a ceremony for 14 musicians. 

Want to introduce a young person you know to the world of contemporary music, or keen to encourage creativity and spark inspiration? Book your tickets.


Clement Power Conductor

Shigeko Hata Soprano


Hilda Paredes Abalorios for 15 musicians

Ondrej Adamek let me tell you a story for Korean – style soprano voice and ensemble

Sir Harrison Birtwistle Cortege for 14 musicians


Abalorios by Hilda Paredes

Hilda Paredes' Abalorios is a 21st-century guide for young people to the contemporary ensemble, echoing Britten’s iconic Young Persons Guide to the Orchestra.

At the heart of Abalorios, meaning glass bead in Spanish, is the idea of a glass bead wind-chime, reflecting the orchestras movements and sounds. Imagine the sound of the chimes gently colliding, led by the wind; this will be your introduction to this immersive new piece.

Commissioned by Birmingham Contemporary Music Group funded by Ernst von Siemens Music Foundation. 

let me tell you a story by Ondrej Adamek

A new, theatrically tinged co-commission with Tongyeong International Music Festival, let me tell you a story is inspired by Korean traditional storytelling, and is accompanied with text by acclaimed Icelandic writer, Sjón.  let me tell you a story has all of Adamek's hallmarks as a composer: theatre, otherworldly vocal scoring, a broad, sometimes mystical palette of influences, and a host of exotic instrumentation, including the Korean Drum Buk.

Cortege by Sir Harrison Birtwistle

Cortege is written for an ensemble to perform without a conductor, with each musician taking it in turns to solemnly walk out to the front of the stage and add their own contribution to a series of unique and technical solo lines. Talking with Tom Service at a concert of his works by the London Sinfonietta in 2012, Birtwistle reflected on the origins of the piece: “I had a talk with Michael Vyner about how I thought conductors were overestimated and it would be possible to write a piece without a conductor with a good body of players. That was one thing when Michael died, I remembered that rather cynical viewpoint. I thought it would be interesting for the individual members of the group to come forward and make an offering, like putting a flower individually.” 

The performance of Cortege is made possible with kind support from PRS Foundation's Resonate fund.

An extract of the evocative text supplied by Icelandic poet Sjón

one day a young salesman from Boston

who travelled east to sell goods

from his home country:


found himself lost on the dark side

of the old imperial city Kyoto...


Hilda Paredes Abalorios for 15 musicians, 15-20’ world première, commissioned by BCMG’s Sound Investment Scheme

Ondrej Adamek Let me tell you a story (2023, 20’) for Korean-style soprano, voice and ensemble

Sir Harrison Birtwistle Cortege a ceremony for 14 musicians 

Hilda Paredes

Hilda Paredes is a renowned contemporary composer whose innovative and expressive works have captivated audiences around the world. Born in Mexico, Paredes began her musical journey at a young age, displaying exceptional talent and passion for composition. Her compositions are known for their intricate textures, evocative melodies, and rich harmonies that explore a wide range of emotions.

Paredes studied at the National Conservatory of Music in Mexico City and later pursued further education in composition in London. Her compositions draw inspiration from a variety of sources, including her Mexican heritage, nature, literature, and personal experiences. She has a keen ability to blend different musical styles and genres, creating a unique and distinctive musical language.

Throughout her career, Paredes has received numerous accolades and commissions from prestigious institutions and ensembles. Her works have been performed by renowned orchestras and chamber groups worldwide, earning critical acclaim for their depth, originality, and thought-provoking nature.


Ondřej Adámek

Ondřej Adámek, born in Prague in 1979, is a renowned composer and conductor who BCMG has had the privilege of working with over several successful projects. He has received commissions for orchestral, choir, ensemble, and vocal works from prestigious ensembles, orchestras, and festivals across Europe. His collaborations include renowned artists such as Simon Rattle, Magdalena Kozena, Isabelle Faust, and many more.

Adámek's music showcases his exploration of unique playing techniques and innovative instruments, resulting in distinct sound colors. With a strong focus on rhythm and solid formal structures, his compositions possess a personal and dramatic quality.

He graduated from the composition department of the Academy of Music in Prague in 2004 and the Conservatoire National Supérieur in Paris in 2007. Adámek has been based in Berlin since 2010, initially as a guest of the DAAD's Berlin Artists-in-Residence Program.

Adámek's contributions to contemporary music have been recognized with several awards, including the Synthèse Prize, Metamorphose Prize, Brandenburg Biennale Prize, and Prix George Enesco. In 2014-2015, he was a fellow of Academie de France, Villa Medici in Rome.

In addition to his compositional work, Adámek is an accomplished conductor, leading orchestras such as Deutsches Sinfonieorchester, Ensemble Moderne, and Oslo Sinfonetta. He is also the founder of the vocal ensemble N.E.S.E.V.E.N, where he explores the authenticity and originality of the voice alongside questions of movement and theatricality.

Adámek's artistic exploration extends to the development of his own installative musical instrument called "Airmachine," showcasing his perpetual interest in new forms of expression and sound colours.



Sjón is the pen name of Sigurjón Birgir Sigurðsson, an acclaimed Icelandic author, poet, and lyricist. Born on August 27, 1962, in Reykjavík, Iceland, Sjón has gained international recognition for his unique storytelling abilities and imaginative works.

Sjón's writing often explores themes of identity, history, mythology, and the intricacies of human emotions. His works encompass a wide range of genres, including novels, poetry, plays, and lyrics. He is known for his lyrical and evocative prose, which transports readers to enchanting and surreal worlds.

One of Sjón's notable collaborations was with the Icelandic musician Björk, with whom he co-wrote several songs. Their creative partnership resulted in the critically acclaimed album "Biophilia" (2011), which combined music, science, and nature in a groundbreaking multimedia project.

He received the Nordic Council's Literature Prize in 2005 for his novel "The Blue Fox," which tells a magical and poignant story set in 19th-century Iceland. His novel "From the Mouth of the Whale" (2008) was shortlisted for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize. Beyond his novels, Sjón has also delved into writing librettos for operas and collaborated with visual artists. His contributions to literature and the arts have solidified his place as one of Iceland's most prominent contemporary literary figures.   


Want to get involved?

Our wonderful supporters mean we can commission more pieces like Hilda's and Ondrej’s that introduce younger audiences to the fascinating world of new music. We say thank you by naming them in the score, inviting them to rehearsals, and the world première, where they can meet the composer. For more info visit


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