The Birmingham International Concert Season, 2012/13
July 8, 2012
United Kingdom The Birmingham International Concert Season, 2012/13
There was a substantial celebration of the 21st anniversary of the opening of Birmingham’s Symphony Hall in the 2011/12 season so following that must have been a challenge to the city’s concert planners. However, any fears that they might have shot their bolt are quickly dispelled by a glance through the prospectus for the coming season of concerts at Symphony Hall (SH) and Town Hall (TH).
One important anniversary in 2013 will be the centenary of the birth of Benjamin Britten. A mini-festival of his music under the banner ‘A Boy Was Born’ includes a programme of vocal music by Birmingham’s own crack choir, Ex Cathedra (12 January , TH) and a song recital by Ian Bostridge which very aptly mixes Britten’s Winter Words with lieder by a composer with whom he was closely identified, Schubert (16 January, TH). In addition, Edward Gardner conducts the CBSO and their choruses in Spring Symphony (17 & 19 January, SH).
Opera fans will be well served, as usual. The Opera North well-received Ring cycle reaches Siegfried (22 June, SH) while Sir Antonio Pappano brings the Royal Opera company for their now-annual visit in a performance of Verdi’s Simon Boccanegra with Thomas Hampson, no less, in the title role (7 July, SH). Early opera is represented by Handel’s Radamisto in which Harry Bicket will direct The English Concert. Once again a leading American singer takes the title role; this time it’s the countertenor, David Daniels (8 February, TH).
Several great orchestras from around the world will be visiting, including the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra with Riccardo Chailly. Their programme will include Rachmaninov’s gloriously romantic Second Symphony (25 October, SH). The Czech Philharmonic and their newly-appointed Chief Conductor, Jiří Bělohlávek also visit and they’ll play one of the greatest of Czech symphonies, Dvořák’s Seventh. They’ll also partner Hélène Grimaud in Beethoven’s ‘Emperor’ Piano Concerto (12 April, SH). The Budapest Festival Orchestra and Ivan Fischer offer Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra and the Fourth Symphony by Brahms (26 April SH).
Among solo recitals one must take pride of place. Dame Gillian Weir will be retiring from the concert platform at the end of 2012 after a 48-year career. Birmingham gets a chance to say ‘au revoir’ and pay tribute to a great artist when she gives a recital on the organ of Symphony Hall (19 November). Just a few days before that Evgeny Kissin’s piano recital will include music by Beethoven, Schubert and Liszt (15 November, SH). Kissin is an artist with a firmly established career. A younger pianist who is carving out an exciting career is Benjamin Grosvenor. He includes Scriabin and Chopin in his lunchtime recital in the ‘Bright Futures’ series (14 March, TH). The same evening sees Stephen Kovacevich playing Beethoven and Brahms, also in Town Hall. What a day for piano lovers that promises to be!
Finally, a mention of a few choral concerts. The Vienna Boys’ Choir visits on 5 October (TH) and another celebrated choir, the Choir of King’s College, Cambridge performs Handel’s Messiah in the run-up to Christmas (14 December , SH). There’s a longstanding tradition of Good Friday performances of one of the Bach Passions. This year it’s the St. Matthew Passion, which Ex Cathedra and Jeffrey Skidmore will perform (29 March, SH).
There are many more concerts in the season – over forty events in total. Full programme information and booking details can be found online at www.thsh.co.uk/bics-2012-13 Alternatively, telephone bookings can be made on 0121 345 0601and, of course, bookings can also be made by post or in person at the box office.
Once again, Birmingham offers a rich and varied programme of events and some of the world’s leading musicians.