Birmingham Contemporary Music Group

Monday 19 July 2021

“…a shimmering string of musical jewels..” The Guardian


Birmingham Contemporary Music Group is one of the world’s foremost new music ensembles. Over three decades, BCMG has developed the music of today for the audiences of tomorrow. The ensemble has commissioned over 175 pieces of music from the world’s finest composers and emerging international talent. Many of the works have been commissioned through its innovative pioneering Sound Investment crowd-funding scheme to which over 500 donors have contributed more than £300,000; many of these works have subsequently found their way into worldwide repertoire.

BCMG was founded by Simon Clugston and Ulrich Heinen, musicians from the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, in 1987, with Sir Simon Rattle as Founding Patron. Since then, BCMG has reached over 10 million people in concert and through broadcasts. The Group performs regularly at CBSO Centre, Symphony Hall and Town Hall Birmingham, Wigmore Hall in London and at the BBC Proms and Aldeburgh Festival. To this day, BCMG maintains a close link to the CBSO and regularly works with CBSO’s Music Director, Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla.

International tours have included visits to the USA (Library of Congress), Mexico, India and venues across France, Germany, the Netherlands and Austria. The Group is regularly heard in concert on BBC Radio 3, and has recorded extensively. Recordings include discs of works by Thomas Adès, Mark-Anthony Turnage and Benjamin Britten, and a Grammy Award-nominated recording of Gerald Barry’s opera, The Importance of Being Earnest, for NMC Recordings. Recent releases include Wilde Lieder Marx.Music on Coviello and Howard Skempton’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, a series of recordings devoted to British composers including BCMG’s late Artist-in-Association Oliver Knussen, Julian Anderson and Charlotte Bray (all on NMC) and a disc of the works of Elliott Carter on Ondine.

BCMG’s work both inside and outside the concert hall has earned it many awards and accolades. Over the last decade it has been shortlisted for: ITV’s South Bank Show’s Classical Music Award; the Royal Philharmonic Society’s Ensemble Award and BBC Music Magazine’s Chamber Award. Its long-established Learning and Participation programmes actively engage young people in composing and performing, and have earned BCMG nationwide recognition (in 2016, the Group was highly commended in the Family Arts Festival Awards).

In partnership with Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, BCMG has created the NEXT Music Study Programme in Contemporary Performance, an innovative programme of study which supports early career musicians who want to dedicate their professional career to contemporary music. It is the only programme in the UK providing intensive, year-long training in contemporary music performance practice, offering musicians an unprecedented opportunity to learn from some of the most exciting performers and composers working today.