Three months at CBSO…

Written by Ruth Sanderson, Cultural Intern at CBSO.

Happy new year from CBSO Centre! Here is a snapshot of my highlights from the last three months.


In November I accompanied the orchestra to Cardiff for a concert in St. David’s Hall. Two coachloads of musicians and instruments left Birmingham at lunchtime, and after getting caught in some traffic on the M5 we eventually made it to the hall for our rehearsal. The concert was conducted by our outgoing Music Director Andris Nelsons. His energy and close relationship with the orchestra always makes for an exciting concert. We also had virtuoso pianist Stephen Hough playing the Schumann Piano Concerto – yet another star struck moment for me! It was really interesting seeing how the concerts work outside of Birmingham, and after momentarily losing a second violinist after the concert we all made it back on the bus to Birmingham.

Songs from the Sixties

I went to my first ‘Friday Night Classics’ concert in November – an evening of 60s songs sung by West End singers and accompanied by the full orchestra. It was hilarious to see the orchestra in a completely different light – see the photo below! Highlights included At Last, Everlasting Love and I Say A Little Prayer. Personally I’d love a 90s songs concert – an evening of Spice Girls and Britney anyone?


James Ehnes

In December we had violinist James Ehnes come to Birmingham to play two concerts in Symphony Hall with us, before going on tour with the CBSO to Abu Dhabi. I am a HUGE fan of James so meeting him was very exciting. I tried very hard to play it cool – not completely sure if I succeeded. Luckily he was SO nice and very easy-going to work with. His performance schedule is crazy – an example of this was when he was called in last minute to play the Brahms Violin Concerto with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, live on Radio 3…on the same day that he played the Walton Violin Concerto with the CBSO! The concert order was hastily rearranged to allow him enough time to jump on a train from New Street to Liverpool in time for the evening concert there. Four days later he was in Abu Dhabi on tour with the CBSO, playing the Bruch Violin Concerto. I need a lie-down just thinking about it.


Christmas Concerts

Christmas at the CBSO began on 5th December, with five ‘Notelets’ Christmas Cracker concerts. These were short, one-hour concerts aimed at toddlers and young children. It included a live brass band, story time, musical statues (to live music!) and a chance for the children to have a go playing some instruments after the concert. It was brilliant to see young children interacting with the music in such an enthusiastic way.

In the week leading up to Christmas, the CBSO did four ‘Festive Favourites’ Concerts, and were joined by all five of the CBSO’s choirs across the weekend – CBSO Chorus, Youth Chorus, Children’s Chorus, Young Voices and Selly Oak Vocal. These were presented by Hugh Dennis, of Mock the Week and Outnumbered fame! He was a big hit with the audience and performers alike. The infamous percussion section fancy dress was equally entertaining (see photo below). I was singing with the CBSO Chorus for these concerts so had a great view of Symphony Hall from the choir stalls behind the orchestra.

The CBSO with Hugh Dennis, the CBSO Children’s Chorus, CBSO Youth Chorus and CBSO Chorus
The CBSO with Hugh Dennis, the CBSO Children’s Chorus, CBSO Youth Chorus and CBSO Chorus


The CBSO Percussion section with honorary member Hugh Dennis.
The CBSO Percussion section with honorary member Hugh Dennis.

I can’t believe I’m over halfway through my internship already – time flies when you’re having fun! Over the next few months I have a lot to look forward to: trips to Nottingham and Leeds, KS3 schools concerts in Symphony Hall, a ‘Best of the West End’ Concert (so excited for that one!!), Mahler’s Symphony No. 6 (epic piece) conducted by Andris Nelsons and on my last day as an intern, a ‘Queen: Rock and Symphonic Spectacular’ – complete with fancy dress! Who said classical music was boring?


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