To be, or not to be… 2015/16 season

Ex Cathedra continues to flourish! Following on from the success of last season’s première of James MacMillan’s Seven Angels, one of the many highlights we eagerly anticipate in the new season is our next major commission A New Shakespeare Ode by Sally Beamish and Carol Ann Duffy, which will be performed in Stratford, Birmingham and London and many other venues around the country in 2016. This collaboration between Ex Cathedra and the Shakespeare Institute, the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust and the Royal Shakespeare Company, is a community work involving Ex Cathedra, our Academies, schools, the audience (!), and a recently formed band of specialist Shakespearean instrumentalists called The City Musick.

The whole year is extraordinarily rich with further exciting collaborations between Ex Cathedra and the CBSO, Birmingham Royal Ballet, Dartington International Summer School, pianist Steven Osborne, and singers James Rutherford and two famous alumni Carolyn Sampson and Andrew Tortise. Such stuff as dreams are made on…

It is a busy summer with six performances of Carmina Burana at Birmingham Hippodrome (following on from the outstanding success in the London Coliseum in March) and five Rachmaninoff Vespers, including a Barbican performance with Steven Osborne playing Rachmaninoff’s piano Preludes and Etudes-Tableaux. There are two Summer Music by Candlelight programmes, two performances of a new Consort programme exploring Elizabethan and South American
music called In a Strange Land, two BBC Radio 3 broadcasts, one Music for Marie Fel performance at the new London Festival of Baroque Music in St John’s Smith Square, and a week at Dartington International Summer School with Carolyn Sampson and Joanna MacGregor.

At Christmas there are the usual hymns at heaven’s gate… Gaudete!, An Elizabethan Christmas, Angels, stars and kings and of course Christmas Music by Candlelight. Add to that the now traditional Swedish Lucia Service in Birmingham Cathedral, Nutcracker with BRB at the Hippodrome and Bach’s Christmas Oratorio with our period instrument orchestra, and you have a full and exciting Festive Season to look forward to.

This year there are three Bach concerts: two Passions (the St Matthew with CBSO in Symphony Hall on Good Friday and the St John with our Consort and Baroque Orchestra in Birmingham Cathedral) and the Christmas Oratorio in Town Hall. Birmingham’s three unique venues! We’re so blessed. In the early days of Ex Cathedra most of the largescale Baroque programmes took place at Birmingham Cathedral (similarly with the Triennial Festival in the 18th century) and there is a desire from many quarters to re-establish a centre of Baroque excellence in this exquisite building. The CBSO are a world-class orchestra on our doorstep (we share the same building) and it will be wonderful to explore ‘Early’ repertoire with them. Our 46th season begins with a programme of Baroque ‘classics’ in Symphony Hall – The Grand Tour – which will enable us to begin looking at Baroque style together. As well as Handel’s Zadok the Priest and Dixit Dominus there will be music by Allegri, Gabrieli, Lalande, Mondonville and Vivaldi.

I hope the season is as you like it… and I look forward to seeing you at many of these wonderful programmes. I thank you for your interest and continued support.

Jeffrey Skidmore
Artistic Director & Conductor

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