Culture: Orchestra's Bond with Elgar Continues; Sir Edward Elgar's Links with Birmingham Are Many, Including Conducting the First Concert by the CBSO in 1920. Terry Grimley Reports

Article excerpt

Byline: Terry Grimley

As Sir Edward Elgar himself once remarked - in a characteristically embittered context - if there was one place he hoped to gain recognition, it was Birmingham.

As a local Worcestershire lad he played violin in the orchestra at the Triennial Festival held in the Town Hall (on one occasion taking part in a performance of Dvorak's Sixth Symphony conducted by the composer), and he later wrote four major choral works - The Dream of Gerontius, The Apostles, The Kingdom and The Music Makers - for it.

He was the first professor of music at Birmingham University and had the distinction of conducting the first-ever concert by the then City of Birmingham Orchestra in 1920. The programme consisted entirely of his music, including the Birmingham premiere of his Cello Concerto, then virtually a new work.

All of this amounts to a special bond between the CBSO and Elgar's music, much of which is featured in the 2003/4 season. The highlight will be Sakari Oramo conducting rare revival of The Apostles to mark the actual centenary of that first Birmingham performance on October 14 (there is a second performance on October 16).

Not content with this, Oramo also conducts The Dream of Gerontius, the centenary performance of which he conducted three years ago, next April. …