The CBSO Chorus was founded in 1973, made its concert debut in 1974 and has since become one of the finest of its kind, performing regularly with the CBSO and in regular demand from a whole host of other world-class orchestras.
Directed by internationally-renowned choral conductor Simon Halsey for over 25 years, the CBSO Chorus is one of the pillars of Birmingham’s musical life. It attracts amateur singers from throughout the West Midlands and beyond, who come together as a body of ‘unpaid professionals’. The Chorus always relishes the challenge of the large-scale symphonic repertoire, but it also enjoys showing off its versatility, regularly tackling lesser-known, smaller-scale or more-contemporary works.
CBSO Music Director Andris Nelsons has developed a wonderful understanding with the Chorus. Highlights so far include his debut with the Chorus in the spectacular 2008/09 season-opener, Puccini’s La Bohème, as well as performances of Mahler Symphony No. 2 at Symphony Hall and The Sage Gateshead in May 2009 and the CBSO’s widely acclaimed appearance at the 2011 BBC Proms, which was broadcast on BBC2 television and included the Chorus in Prokofiev’s Alexander Nevsky.
The Chorus is an extremely important cultural ambassador, both for the CBSO and for Birmingham, and its resume of engagements with other orchestras rivals any other symphony chorus in the world.
The CBSO Chorus is a regular visitor to Manchester to perform and record with the BBC Philharmonic. Invitations from foreign orchestras have also allowed the Chorus to travel extensively over the years. Appearances at the Olympic Arts Festival in Sydney in 2000 and the Hong Kong Festival in 2006 are particular highlights, as are the Chorus’ two trips to Kuala Lumpur, firstly in 2008 and again in July 2010. The Chorus enjoyed a successful week-long tour to Germany and Holland in May 2011, performing Britten’s War Requiem in Dortmund, Rotterdam and Eindhoven with the Dortmund Philharmonic Orchestra and Jac van Steen. Most recently, the Chorus travelled to Belgium, giving armistice performances of Britten’s War Requiem in Antwerp, Ghent and Bruges with the Royal Flemish Philharmonic Orchestra and Martyn Brabbins in November 2011.
The CBSO Chorus also has over 40 recordings to its credit, including five award-winning releases.