City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra appoints Kazuki Yamada as chief conductor


September 14, 2021, 12:00

The Japanese conductor Kazuki Yamada will be the first non-European to lead the CBSO.

Image: CBSO

The Japanese conductor Kazuki Yamada will be the first non-European to lead the CBSO.

The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (CBSO) has announced that Japanese maestro Kazuki Yamada will take over the baton from Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla, who has led the orchestra since 2016.

Yamada, who has been the CBSO’s first guest conductor since October 2018, will also become the orchestra’s artistic advisor and will take over both functions from April 1, 2023. Gražinytė-Tyla will step down as music director at the end of the 2021/22 season.

Yamada was born in Japan and will become the first non-European to head the CBSO.

“I first worked with the CBSO in 2012 and immediately felt a very sincere connection with the players,” says Yamada. “This connection has really grown and grown over the past 9 years; our joint tour to Japan in 2016 was one of the highlights of my career. After that, the relationship was even deeper.

“I am so happy, enthusiastic and above all honored to continue our common path as chief conductor and artistic advisor of the orchestra.”

Kazuki Yamada appointed Chief Conductor and Artistic Advisor to the CBSO

Kazuki Yamada is named Chief Conductor and Artistic Advisor to the CBSO.

Image: Zuzanna Specjal

Known for his characteristic physicality and energy, Yamada is in international demand as a guest conductor and has conducted with the Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, the Philharmonia Orchestra, the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra and the National Symphony Orchestra Washington.

The star maestro is also chief conductor and artistic director of the Orchester Philharmonique de Monte-Carlo, permanent conductor of the Japan Philharmonic and principal guest conductor of the Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra in Japan.

Yamada made his debut in 2012 with the CBSO, the Classic FM’s Orchestra in the Midlands.

For three years as principal guest conductor, Yamada has forged strong connections with the musicians and, as chief conductor, will continue the orchestra’s tradition of performing a wide variety of orchestral and choral music.

CBSO director Eugene Tzikindelean says: “I have seldom met a musician who is more loyal to the score or more respectful of the orchestra and who is also a brilliant and virtuoso maestro. To be honest, I don’t know what I love most about playing with him: his impeccable technique, his exquisite taste in music, his style or the depth of his artistic thoughts. I’m really looking forward to many years of making music together. “

Stephen Maddock, CEO of CBSO, added: “From his first concerts with us, there has been an immediate relationship between Kazuki and our musicians and tremendous respect for his musicality and craft. Over time, that has only deepened, and I know those who have seen Kazuki conduct the orchestra will be as excited by this news as we are.

“His energy, dynamism and precision make for electrifying concerts and I have no doubt that the audience in Birmingham and beyond will be just as eagerly awaiting his next performances as our musicians do when we start new musical adventures together. “

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