City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

05.05.25 - 18.05.25

about the tour.

The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Chief Conductor Kazuki Yamada on a European tour. The soloists Kian Soltani, violoncello, and Fazıl Say, piano, will enrich the concert experience.

Hector Berlioz: "Römischer Karneval" (Le Carnaval Romain) op. 9

Camille Saint-Saëns: Konzert für Violoncello und Orchester Nr. 1 a-Moll op. 33

Gabriel Fauré: Elegie für Violoncello und Orchester op. 24 c-Moll


Maurice Ravel: Klavierkonzert G-Dur (1931)


Maurice Ravel: Daphnis et Chloé - 1. Suite (1911)

Maurice Ravel: Daphnis et Chloé - 2. Suite (1913)


Leonard Bernstein: Symphonische Tänze aus: West Side Story

Maurice Ravel: La Valse. Poème chorégraphique



Your contact persons:

Cornelia Schmid

Managing Director

+49 511 36607-73

Joric Brandon Pretzel


+49 511 36607-33

An Orchestra full of experience.

Biography – about the orchestra.

The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (CBSO) is an internationally celebrated symphony orchestra, at home in Birmingham. A family of 90 incredible musicians, led by Chief Conductor and Artistic Advisor Kazuki Yamada, proud to make exciting musical experiences that matter to the people of Birmingham, the West Midlands and beyond.

Resident at Symphony Hall, the orchestra’s musicians perform over 150 concerts each year in Birmingham, the UK and around the world, with music that ranges from classics to contemporary, soundtracks to symphonies, and everything in between. With a far-reaching community and education programme, alongside a family of choruses and youth ensembles, it is involved in every aspect of music-making in the Midlands – and has been for more than 100 years.

This longstanding tradition started with the orchestra’s very first symphonic concert in 1920 – conducted by Sir Edward Elgar. Ever since then, through war, recessions, social change and civic renewal, the CBSO has been proudly ‘Birmingham’s orchestra’. Under principal conductors including Adrian Boult, George Weldon, Andrzej Panufnik and Louis Frémaux, the CBSO won an artistic reputation that spread far beyond the Midlands. But it was when it discovered the young British conductor Simon Rattle in 1980 that the CBSO became internationally famous – and showed how the arts can help give a new sense of direction to a whole city.

Rattle’s successors, Sakari Oramo and Andris Nelsons, helped cement that global reputation and continued to build on the CBSO’s tradition of flying the flag for Birmingham. And under the dynamic leadership of Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla, the CBSO continued to do what it does best – playing great music for the people of Birmingham, the Midlands, and beyond.

In April 2023, Japanese conductor Kazuki Yamada took up the post of Chief Conductor and Artistic Advisor, and under his baton the orchestra continues to celebrate the joy of music and of Birmingham through creating unmissable and unforgettable musical experiences for all.

SEASON 2023/2024


Kazuki Yamada

Kazuki Yamada © Zuzanna Specjal


Kazuki Yamada is Music Director of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (CBSO). Alongside his commitments in Birmingham, Yamada is also Artistic and Music Director of Orchestre Philharmonique de Monte-Carlo (OPMC). Yamada has forged a link between Monaco and Birmingham having conducted collaborative performances with CBSO Chorus of Mendelssohn’s Elijah in both cities in 2019 and Orff’s Carmina Burana in 2023. CBSO Chorus open the current season with Yamada in both Birmingham and in Monaco with performances of Verdi Requiem and Mahler Symphony No 2 respectively.

Time spent under the close supervision of Seiji Ozawa served to underline the importance of what Kazuki Yamada calls his “Japanese feeling” for classical music. Born in 1979 in Kanagawa, Japan, he continues to work and perform in Japan every season with NHK Symphony Orchestra and Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra. Shortly after assuming his position in Birmingham, Yamada gave a series of concerts on tour around Japan with the CBSO in summer 2023 and will take OPMC on tour to Japan in 2024.

Yamada’s passionate and collaborative approach to conducting means he commands a busy international diary of concerts, opera and choral conducting. The current season begins with his return to the BBC Proms with CBSO in summer 2023, closely followed by his debut with the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Tanglewood Festival. He takes the CBSO on tour to Germany and Switzerland in autumn 2023 followed by further concerts around Europe in spring 2024. He continues regular guesting commitments with Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse and Orchestre National de France. He makes debut appearances with Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin. Oslo Philharmonic, Orquesta Nacionales de España and Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

Yamada performs with soloists such as Emanuel Ax, Leif Ove Andsnes, Seong-Jin Cho, Isabelle Faust, Martin Helmchen, Nobuko Imai, Lucas and Arthur Jussen, Alexander Kantorow, Evgeny Kissin, Maria João Pires, Baiba Skride, Fazıl Say, Arabella Steinbacher, Jean-Yves Thibaudet, Krystian Zimerman and Frank Peter Zimmermann.

Strongly committed to his role as an educator, Yamada appears annually as a guest artist at the Seiji Ozawa International Academy Switzerland and is strongly committed to the outreach programme at CBSO. The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on international concert halls reaffirmed his belief that -– in his words – ‘The audience is always involved in making the music. As a conductor, I need an audience there as much as the musicians’. Yamada studied music at the Tokyo University of the Arts, where he discovered a love both for Mozart and the Russian romantic repertory. He first achieved international attention upon receiving first prize in the 51st Besançon International Competition for young conductors in 2009. After living in Japan for most of his life, he now resides in Berlin.

SEASON 2023/2024


Kian Soltani

Kian Soltani © Holger Hage / Deutsche Grammophon

Hailed by The Times as a “remarkable cellist” and described by Gramophone as “sheer perfection”, Kian Soltani’s playing is characterised by a depth of expression, sense of individuality and technical mastery, alongside a charismatic stage presence and ability to create an immediate emotional connection with his audience. He is now invited by the world’s leading orchestras, conductors and recital promoters, propelling him from rising star to one of the most talked about cellists performing today.

In 23/24 season he is the Focus Artist of Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich and will share stages with Wiener Symphoniker, WDR Sinfonieorchester, NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre de Chambre de Lausanne, Konzerthausorchester Berlin, and NHK Symphony Orchestra. Aside from orchestral and recital concerts, he will maintain busy schedule comprising of tours with Camerata Salzburg and Mahler Chamber Orchestra.

His recent orchestral highlights include Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, and Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia. As a recitalist he continues to appear in prestigious halls and series including Pierre Boulez Saal, Berlin; Wigmore Hall, London; Schubertiade; Musikverein, Vienna; Beethovenhaus, Bonn; and Konzerthaus Dortmund.

In 2017, Soltani signed an exclusive recording contract with Deutsche Grammophon and his first disc ‘Home’, comprising works for cello and piano by Schubert, Schumann and Reza Vali, was released to international acclaim in 2018, with Gramophone describing the recording as “sublime”. Soltani has since recorded discs including the Dvorak and Tchaikovsky Piano Trios with Lahav Shani and Renaud Capucon, recorded live at Aix Easter Festival in 2018 released by Warner Classics and Dvořák’s Cello Concerto with the Staatskapelle Berlin and Daniel Barenboim in August 2020.

He recently won Innovative Listening Experience Award at the coveted Opus Klassic Awards 2022, Germany’s most prestigious classical music prize which honours outstanding artists and recordings, for his ‘Cello Unlimited’ album released back in October 2021. He has worked on this latest disc with Deutsche Grammophon during the entirety of 2020, and it is a celebration of the cello and film music. Of the disc, Soltani wrote “Everything you will hear on this album is made only and exclusively with my cello and played only by me. The possibilities of this instrument are unlimited and infinite, and this album is a celebration of the instrument and of epic film music as well”.

Soltani attracted worldwide attention in April 2013 as winner of the International Paulo Cello Competition in Helsinki. In February 2017 Soltani won Germany’s celebrated Leonard Bernstein Award and in December 2017, he was awarded the prestigious Credit Suisse Young Artist Award.

Born in Bregenz, Austria, in 1992 to a family of Persian musicians, Soltani began playing the cello at age four and was only twelve when he joined Ivan Monighetti’s class at the Basel Music Academy. He was chosen as an Anne-Sophie Mutter Foundation scholarship holder in 2014 and completed his further studies as a member of the Young Soloist Programme at Germany’s Kronberg Academy. He received additional important musical training at the International Music Academy in Liechtenstein. As of October 2023, he holds position as a professor of cello at the University of Music and Performing Arts in Vienna, Austria.

Kian Soltani plays “The London, ex Boccherini" Antonio Stradivari cello, kindly loaned to him by a generous sponsor through the Beares International Violin Society.


Fazıl Say, Pianist & Composer

Fazıl Say © Marco Borggreve

With his extraordinary pianistic ability, Fazıl Say has been touching audiences and critics alike for almost 30 years in a way that has become rare. Concerts with this artist are different concerts; they are more direct, more open, more exciting. In short: they go straight to the heart. This is what the composer Aribert Reimann must have meant when, during a visit to Ankara in 1986, he had the pleasure, more or less by chance, of hearing the then 16-year-old. He immediately asked his companion, the American pianist David Levine, to come to the conservatoire in the Turkish capital, and he did so with the words that have since become commonplace: "You have to listen to him, the boy plays like a devil".

Fazıl Say received his first piano lessons from Mithat Fenmen, a pianist who had studied with Alfred Cortot in Paris. Fenmen – perhaps sensing how great the boy's talent was – asked his pupil to first improvise every day on everyday themes before engaging in the necessary piano exercises and studies. It was in this engagement with free creative processes and forms that the origin was laid for the enormous improvisational talent and aesthetic outlook that forms the core of pianist and composer Fazıl Say's self-image. As a composer, Fazıl Say has been commissioned by Boston Symphony Orchestra, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra and the BBC, Salzburger Festspiele, WDR, Münchner Philharmoniker, Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival, Wiener Konzerthaus, Dresdner Philharmonie, Fondation Louis Vuitton, among others. His Oeuvre includes five symphonies, two oratorios, various solo concertos and numerous piano and chamber music works.

Fazıl Say received his fine-tuning as a classical pianist from 1987 onwards with David Levine, first at the Musikhochschule "Robert Schumann" in Düsseldorf, and later in Berlin. In addition, he regularly attended master classes with Menahem Pressler. Moreover, his outstanding technique soon enabled him to master the so-called war horses of world literature with astonishing aplomb, and it was precisely this mixture of subtlety in Haydn, Bach and Mozart, and virtuoso brilliance in the works of Liszt, Mussorgsky or Beethoven that finally led to his victory at the International “Young Concert Artists” Competition in New York in 1994. Fazıl Say has subsequently performed with all the renowned American and European orchestras and numerous great conductors, developing a diverse repertoire ranging from compositions by Johann Sebastian Bach to the "classics" Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven, as well as Romantic and contemporary music, including his own compositions for piano.

Since then, Fazıl Say has given guest performances in countless countries on all five continents; the French newspaper "Le Figaro" described him as "a genius". In the process, Fazıl Say has also appeared numerous times as a chamber musician. With violinist Patricia Kopatchinskaja, for example, he has performed in a fantastic duo for years; other prominent partners have included Maxim Vengerov, the Minetti Quartett, the Modigliani Quartett, Nicolas Altstaedt and Marianne Crebassa.

Numerous concert halls, orchestras and festivals have invited Fazıl Say as artist in residence or introduced him to their audiences with portraits and focus weeks over the past decades. These include, among others, Konzerthaus Dortmund, Konzerthaus Berlin, Alte Oper Frankfurt, Wiener Konzerthaus, Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich, hr-Sinfonieorchester Frankfurt, Zürcher Kammerorchester, Dresdner Philharmonie, Camerata Salzburg, Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival, Rheingau Musik Festival, Bodenseefestival and Festival der Nationen. Further portraits were heard in Paris, Tokyo, Merano, Hamburg and Say's hometown Istanbul. In the 2023/24 season, he will be Spotlight Artist at the Concertgebouw Amsterdam, Composer in Focus at the GAIDA Festival in Vilnius and the Hessischer Rundfunk will dedicate a portrait week to him in December 2023.

In 2013, Fazıl Say received the Rheingau Music Prize, and in December 2016, the International Beethoven Prize for Human Rights, Peace, Freedom, Poverty Alleviation and Inclusion in Bonn. In autumn 2017, he was awarded the Music Prize of the City of Duisburg.

Fazıl Say's recordings of works by Bach, Mozart, Gershwin and Stravinsky on Teldec Classics as well as Mussorgsky, Beethoven and his own works on naïve have been critically acclaimed and have received several awards, including three ECHO KLASSIK awards. In 2014, his recording of works by Beethoven – the Piano Concerto No. 3 with the hr-Sinfonieorchester Frankfurt under Gianandrea Noseda, the Sonata op. 111 and the Moonlight Sonata – as well as the album "Say plays Say" with exclusively his own works were released. In autumn 2016, Warner Classics released the recording of all Mozart sonatas, for which Fazıl Say received his fourth ECHO KLASSIK in 2017. In 2017, together with Nicolas Altstaedt, he recorded the album "4 Cities", and that autumn, Warner Classics released Frédéric Chopin's Nocturnes and the album "Secrets" with French songs, which he recorded together with Marianne Crebassa and won the Gramophone Classical Music Award in 2018. His 2018 album is dedicated to Debussy and Satie, while his latest release "Troy Sonata – Fazıl Say Plays Say" features his own works. In January 2020, Fazıl Say's recording of all Beethoven piano sonatas was released by Warner Classics, Bach's Goldberg Variations followed in November 2022. With Patricia Kopatchinskaja, Fazıl Say has released a recording of sonatas by Bartók, Janáček and Brahms in January 2023 (Alpha). He continues to record his own works under his label ACM.

SEASON 2023/2024

Listen, See & feel the music.

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