• BCMG’s first live indoor performances with a socially-distanced audience mark the opening of the ensemble’s 2020/21 season and a welcome return to its home venue, CBSO Centre, in Birmingham
  • Words from Abroad, a musical exploration of the life and work of Paul Celan in the poet’s centenary year follows an international call for scores in collaboration with Ensemble o/modernt, Gehrmans Musikförlag and Goethe-Institut Schweden (22 November)
  • The live world premiere performance of New York-based Chinese composer Huang Ruo’s A Dust in Time, written during and in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, is accompanied by a digital release in partnership with the Beijing Music Festival (13 December)

Birmingham Contemporary Music Group (BCMG) returns to its home venue, the CBSO Centre, on 22 November and 13 December to give five world premiere performances in what will mark the new music ensemble’s first live indoor concerts in front of an audience for over eight months. Both concerts will also be made available online via a ticketed live stream (22 November) and digital release (13 December).

Voices and words, past and present, create new and powerful landscapes in Words from Abroad on 22 November as BCMG celebrates the 100th anniversary of the birth of Romanian-born poet Paul Celan with three world premiere performances of works created in response to his life and poetry. From Spanish composer Francisco Jose Andreo Gázquez and Italian composers Andrea Sordano and Caterina Di Cecca, the works have been written in response to the 2019-20 O/Modernt Composition Award international call for scores launched in collaboration between BCMG, Ensemble o/modernt, Gehrmans Musikförlag andtheGoethe-Institut Schweden earlier this year. The concert programme will also include musical renditions written by Param Vir and Christopher Fox of poems by Tagore and James Fenton, as well as the world premiere live performance of Couplet by Donghoon Shin, commissioned by BCMG as part of its Soliloquies & Dialogues series. One hour long with no interval, there will be two live performances at 1pm and 4pm including an online live stream of the 4pm concert.

On 13 December, the BCMG String Quartet will give the live world premiere of A Dust in Time (Passacaglia for Strings) by New York-based Chinese composer Huang Ruo. Inspired by the symbolism of the Tibetan sand mandala intertwined with the European tradition of the passacaglia, the work is a musical reflection on the lived experience of the COVID-19 pandemic exploring how no matter who we are or where we are, for many over the past few months our lives and memories seem to have slowly frozen in space and time. The two one-hour performances with no interval will take place at 1pm and 4pm marking the work’s first performance in front of a live audience whilst a recording made by BCMG as part of the 2020 Beijing Music Festival will also be made available as a digital release.

Stephan Meier, Artistic Director, Birmingham Contemporary Music Group: “Throughout these difficult months BCMG has strived to continue pursuing our main objective which is to bring composers, musicians, and audiences together in a meaningful way. Our upcoming concerts – our first at our home venue since March – present some of the results of that work. Using these unprecedented times as a stimulus for creativity, we reflect on the impact of the pandemic with some of today’s most interesting musical minds and we see our celebration of Paul Celan’s centenary launched earlier this year take on a new and profound relevance, serving as a reminder to us that in times of isolation words are able to provide a refuge in their own right.”

One of the world’s foremost new music ensembles, BCMG has continued in its commitment to support and showcase the best in new music during the pandemic through its BCMG at Home series of digital commissions, online videos, blogs and resources. In August, BCMG were also delighted to bring live music to audiences again when, in partnership with Das Neue Ensemble and Nordic Voices, they performed Karlheinz Stockhausen’s Sternklang at an outdoor concert at Berggarten Hannover preceded by a performance at Brindleyplace in Central Square, Birmingham, from BCMG’s cellist Ulrich Heinen of Henze’s Serenade and Stockhausen’s TIERKREIS in partnership with Birmingham’s Ikon gallery.

Both concerts on 22 November and 13 December will invite a limited and socially-distanced audience to the CBSO Centre under current government COVID-19 guidelines with a number of new safety measures put in place to ensure audiences have a safe and enjoyable experience when visiting the venue. Further information is available on BCMG’s Keeping You Safe page.

For further details about the concerts including how to book tickets (in person & digital) please visit: