The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (CBSO) is delighted to announce that Japanese conductor Kazuki Yamada has been appointed as its Chief Conductor and Artistic Advisor with effect from 1 April 2023 for an initial four and a half-year period.

Yamada made his debut with the CBSO in 2012 and has been the Orchestra’s Principal Guest Conductor since October 2018. Following an intensive search process led by a committee made up of CBSO musicians, Board members and management, and with strong support from the Orchestra, a unanimous decision was made by the Board of Trustees to invite Kazuki to be the CBSO’s next Chief Conductor and Artistic Advisor. He succeeds Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla, who has led the orchestra since 2016.

Born in Japan, Kazuki Yamada will become the first non-European to lead the CBSO. Yamada is also Principal Conductor and Artistic Director of the Orchestre Philharmonique de Monte-Carlo. In Japan he holds further titles of Permanent Conductor of the Japan Philharmonic and Principal Guest Conductor of the Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra.

The CBSO is known for performing the widest range of orchestral and choral music, and Yamada will continue this tradition in his role as Chief Conductor and Artistic Advisor. His performances are marked by his trademark physicality and energy, and he will continue to build on the deep connections he has already forged with the musicians and audiences alike.

Kazuki Yamada commented: “I first worked with the CBSO in 2012 and immediately felt a very sincere connection with the players. This connection has really grown and developed over the last 9 years; our tour together to Japan in 2016 was one of the highlights of my career. After this the relationship was even deeper. I am so happy, thrilled and above all honoured to be continuing our journey together as the Orchestra’s Chief Conductor and Artistic Advisor”. 

CBSO Players’ Committee Chair Joanna Patton commented: ‘Kazuki is a kind, respectful musician filled with an energy which connects the Orchestra with a sense of magic. His concerts are stories without words, filled with emotion, freedom and a sense of trust that is simultaneously exhilarating and rewarding. We can’t wait to continue to share this most special connection with our audiences both here in Birmingham and further afield.’

CBSO Leader Eugene Tzikindelean commented: ‘I have rarely met a musician that is more faithful to the score or as respectful to the orchestra, whilst also being a brilliant and virtuosic Maestro. I honestly don’t know what I love most about playing with him: his impeccable technique, his exquisite taste in music, style, or the depth of his artistic thoughts. I’m really looking forward to many years of making music together – with deep love and respect for the music, but also with the incredible panache that I’m sure will swiftly become our trademark.’

CBSO Chief Executive Stephen Maddock commented: ‘It is with genuine delight and huge excitement that the CBSO makes today’s announcement. From his very first concerts with us, there was an immediate rapport between Kazuki and our musicians, and enormous respect for his musicianship and craft. Over time that has only deepened, and I know that those who have already seen Kazuki conduct the Orchestra will be as thrilled as we are by this news. His energy, dynamism and precision make for electrifying concerts and I have no doubt that audiences in Birmingham and beyond will very quickly come to await his next performances as eagerly as our musicians already do, as we embark on new musical adventures together.’