Tuesday, 8 September 2015

BCMG announce their 2015-2016 season with record-breaking 13 world premieres

·       13 world premieres performed between October 2015 and June 2016

·       Howard Skempton puts The Rime of the Ancient Mariner to music

·       Performance at the acclaimed Festival International Cervantino in Mexico

Birmingham Contemporary Music Group will perform a record-breaking 13 world premieres of 21st century classical music between October 2015 and June 2016. The 2015-2016 season, announced today, also includes a number of UK-first performances and a special trip to Mexico.

The world premieres include a new work by Howard Skempton based on the epic Coleridge poem The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. Skempton, who lives in Leamington Spa, has received international acclaim for his compositions and this piece, commissioned for BCMG, is his most substantial work to date. It will be performed by renowned baritone Roderick Williams, another Warwickshire resident.

The verses of Shakespeare and AE Housman – author of A Shropshire Lad – will also be set to music, this time in a new commission by BCMG for the composer Dominic Muldowney and premiered in Birmingham this December.

The unpredictable and widely admired composer Benedict Mason is well-known for his site-specific compositions, and for BCMG’s May concert he will create a new piece especially for Birmingham’s CBSO Centre. In November and June long-standing BCMG players oboist Melinda Maxwell and cellist Zöe Martlew see their first BCMG commissions premiered by the group.

Other British composers whose work will be performed this season include Master of the Queen’s music Judith Weir, Julian Anderson, Jonathan Harvey, Tansy Davies and Charlotte Bray. 

BCMG will travel to Mexico in October to perform at the internationally acclaimed Festival International Cervantino, a special event that marks the UK-Mexico Year of Culture. There, they will perform work by four British composers - Tansy Davies, Simon Holt, Oliver Knussen and Harrison Birtwistle – alongside new pieces by the Mexican composers Carlos Sanchez-Gutierrez and Alejandro Castaños. Three BCMG musicians will give master classes to the El Cervantino Academy, passing on their knowledge and experience to new performers.

The season begins this September when BCMG perform a new piece at Birmingham Weekender, the city’s biggest arts festival. Requiem to Let will be performed in an empty shop unit created especially for Birmingham Weekender by the composer Michael Wolters.

Family and education work forms an important part of the 2015-2016 season. As well as performances for families and weekend workshops, a wider partnership with local Music Education Hubs will extend opportunities for high ability young musicians to work with BCMG musicians.

A valuable new online resource for teachers and workshop leaders also launches this month.

BCMG’s 2015/16 season is the final season under Artistic Director Stephen Newbould and Executive Director, Jackie Newbould, who stand down in summer 2016.  

Stephen Newbould, Artistic Director of BCMG comments:  “It seems particularly fitting that mine and Jackie’s time with BCMG ends with a season that features more world and UK premieres than ever before. Not only this, but by taking the Group to Mexico we act as ambassadors for Birmingham and the West Midlands. I am of course sad to be leaving BCMG, but will enjoy every minute of this, our final ground-breaking season.”

Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, founded in 1987 by musicians from the CBSO with the encouragement of Sir Simon Rattle, is recognised as one of Europe’s leading contemporary ensembles.

The Group has received a host of national and international awards, has an extensive catalogue of CD recordings and broadcasts regularly on BBC radio. Recent highlights have included David Lang’s epic Crowd Out for 1000 shouting, whispering, chanting voices and two acclaimed concerts at the US Library of Congress, Washington.  

BCMG Listings Information, 2015-2016

Saturday 26 & Sunday 27 September 2015

Birmingham Weekender

Michael Wolters  - Requiem to Let  (WP)


Saturday 17 October 2015

El Cervantino Festival, Guanajuato, Mexico

Conductor: Christian Karlsen  Piano: Huw Watkins

Works by Harrison Birtwistle, Oliver Knussen, Simon Holt, Tansy Davies, Alejandro Castanos (WP) and Carlos Sanchez-Gutierrez (WP)


Sunday 15 November 2015 - CBSO Centre, Birmingham

Oliver Knussen conducts…

Works by Patrick Brennan, Carl Neilsen (recomposed by Hans Abrahamsen), Abrahamsen, Melinda Maxwell (WP) and Stravinsky


Friday 4 December 2015 - CBSO Centre, Birmingham

Saturday 5 December 2015 – Wigmore Hall, London

Double premiere:

Dominic Muldowney – new song cycle (WP); Six Cabaret Songs

Howard Skempton – The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (WP)

Soloist:  Roderick Williams (baritone)


Saturday 6 February – CBSO Centre, Birmingham

World premiere of Edmund Finnis’ Parallel Colour

Conductor:  Richard Baker  

Works by Claude Vivier, Tansy Davies, Edmund Finnis (WP), Rozalie Hirs (UKP), Jonathan Harvey and Franco Donatoni

Soloists: Soprano: Allison Bell  Percussion: Julian Warburton   Clarinet: Timothy Lines


Saturday 20 February – Bramhall Music Building, University of Birmingham

CrossCurrents Festival

Richard Baker (conductor); Lucy Shauffer (mezzo soprano). Featuring new works by composers including Judith Weir, Tansy Davies, Charlotte Bray, Joe Cutler, Howard Skempton, Ed Bennett, Michael Zev Gordon, Scott Wilson, Daria Kwiatkowska and Federico Favali, inspired by Berio’s iconic Folksongs


Sunday 1 May 2016 – CBSO Centre, Birmingham

Benedict Mason Portrait

New work (WP) and Nodding Trilliums & Curved-Lined Angles


Sunday 12 June – CBSO Centre, Birmingham

Remembering the Future: BCMG Chamber Players

Featuring new works by Luke Bedford, Richard Baker, Zöe Martlew, Howard Skempton, BCMG Artist-in-Association, John Woolrich and Judith Weir’s Blue-Green Hill




Sunday 20 September – CBSO Centre, Birmingham

Music Maze and ZigZag workshops * linked to Michel Wolters’ Requiem to Let


*Music Maze workshops for 8-11 year olds, and Zigzag Ensemble for 12-16 years old take place monthly (except December) from September 2015-June 2016.  Full dates and availability at www.bcmg.org.uk/whats-on


Tuesday 27 October - Ikon Gallery, Birmingham

Whisper, Chatter, Draw – create a musical score


Sunday 1 November - CBSO Centre, Birmingham

Hubbub – A Musical Adventure

With Aurora Orchestra, presented as part of BCMG 2015/16 season   Ages 4+


Sunday 8 November - CBSO Centre, Birmingham

Feel the Buzz – composing workshop for young composers aged 14-18

(also on Sunday 10 April 2016 and Sunday 3 July)


Sunday 29 November – CBSO Centre, Birmingham

Music Maze and ZigZag Ensemble workshops linked to Howard Skempton’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner


Saturday 6 February 2016 - CBSO Centre, Birmingham

Families@4 Concert (with pre-concert activities)

Works by Rozalie Hirs, Jonathan Harvey and Franco Donatoni


Sunday 1 May 2016 - CBSO Centre, Birmingham

Families@4 Concert (with pre-concert activities)

Including Benedict Mason’s Nodding Trilliums & Curved-Lined Angles


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