Following her debut at City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra in July 2015, and an acclaimed appearance in the West Midlands last month, Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla has been announced as its new music director.
The extensive search for a successor to Andris Nelsons, who held the position from 2008-15, was led by a committee made up of CBSO musicians, board members and management.
CBSO has a long history of nurturing generation-defining conducting talent: Simon Rattle, appointed at just 25 years old, held the post for 18 years before moving to Berlin Philharmonic; Sakari Oramo joined BBC Symphony Orchestra following his tenure; whilst outgoing music director Andris Nelsons began his seven-year stint aged 28, before going on to lead Boston Symphony and Leipzig Gewandhaus orchestras.
Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla’s success seems just as likely – she won the prestigious Salzburg Festival Young Conductors Award in 2012, has been music director of Salzburg Landestheater since September 2015, and is currently an assistant conductor at Los Angeles Philharmonic. Formerly a Dudamel Fellow (2012-13), she will rise through the ranks to become associate conductor at LA Phil from July 2016.
CBSO chief executive Stephen Maddock said: ‘We are absolutely delighted to be appointing Mirga as CBSO’s next music director. There was an instant chemistry between Mirga and our musicians, and the excitement in Symphony Hall at her concerts both on stage and in the audience was palpable. The CBSO is world-famous for its track record in finding brilliant young conducting talent: Mirga is 29 and is thrilling audiences wherever she goes: we can’t wait to start making music with her,’ added Maddock.
Gražinytė-Tyla will take up the initial three-year contract from September 2016, her artistic plans with CBSO will range widely from Mozart and Haydn to 20th century classics and works by living composers. Coming from the strong choral traditions of the Baltic states (her father is a choir conductor in Lithuania), she will also lead opera projects in Birmingham and work closely with CBSO chorus director Simon Halsey.
Said Gražinytė-Tyla: ‘Every single musician of the CBSO is an artist with great individuality and sense of responsibility. They are driven to be one of the world’s leading orchestras and their shared spirit for teamwork helps them to achieve this.
‘I felt so at ease working with the orchestra at the CBSO Centre and at Symphony Hall and I can’t wait to get started and to call these my homes too. I am also very excited about working with the CBSO family including its brilliant choirs led by Simon Halsey, and getting involved with its extensive learning and participation programme both locally and further afield. I believe we will be a great team and really look forward to making music together.’
Full details of the CBSO’s 2016-17 concert season in Symphony Hall, Birmingham will be announced in April 2016.