Music-lovers can look forward to a rich programme of live concerts and events as the University of Birmingham announces its music and concert season for autumn 2019.

Highlights include The Hermes Experiment, described by The Times as ‘meticulously nuanced, witty and chic’. Comprising harp, clarinet, voice and double bass, this contemporary quartet will perform brand new music in their free Barber Lunchtime Concert on 4 October, including Misha Mullov-Abbado’s jazz-infused take on an English folk song.

Tenebrae performance portrait

Award-winning choir Tenebrae are one of the world’s leading vocal ensembles. Their event performance at the Barber Concert Hall on 23 October is dedicated to travel: follow the footsteps of a constantly moving lonely traveller finding comfort in the sky and stars above in Footsteps by Owain Park, and join the Catholic pilgrims who have travelled the Pilgrimage of Santiago since medieval times in Joby Talbot’s unique and dramatic Path of Miracles.

The Birmingham International Piano Festival returns 25 October to 8 November, a fortnight celebration of some of the world’s finest pianists and keyboard players. Performances include BBC Young Musician of the Year winner Freddy Kempf who shines the light on the music of Chopin, and the dazzling spectacle of two piano concerts: one with Martin Roscoe with Peter Donohoeand another with Benjamin Frith and Shan Liang who perform a monumental masterpiece by Messiaen. Plus a perfect alternative way to spend a lunchtime comes in the form of gospel-tinged and folk-inspired contemporary jazz by the Sam Leak Trio.

Fresh from their performance at the BBC Proms, the Birmingham University Singers welcome their new Principal Conductor Bob Chilcott in a special concert this November. Chilcott – who is internationally renowned as a conductor, composer and singer – conducts a repertoire of Nordic and French works, alongside his own music, at a special welcome concert on 24 November.

student brass band in performance

For one night only, swap keyboards for fretboards and be dazzled in a rare encounter with three giants of the guitar world. John Williams and John Etheridge have forged a long lasting legacy, astonishing audiences around the globe with their phenomenal artistry and ability to cross musical boundaries. The duo add internationally acclaimed classical guitarist and composer Gary Ryan to their line-up in a colourful and varied programme of solos, duos and trios at the Elgar Concert Hall on 7 November.

This season sees the start of a new artistic partnership between the University of Birmingham and Oxford Lieder, an organisation dedicated to promoting the song as an artform. Two works at the Barber Concert Hall examine the relationship between music and words – French Fables on 7 November and a performance by mezzo soprano Marta Fontanals-Simmons of Martin Suckling’s The Tuning with words by master poet Michael Donaghy, on 6 December. Other highlights of autumn 2019 include the Primrose Piano Quartet; a lunchtime dedicated to American minimalism and ‘the classiest brass ensemble in Britain’, Onyx Brass.

symphony orchestra in performance at the University of Birmingham

Stewart Campbell, Head of University Music and Concerts, commented “As the University starts a new academic year, it’s a great time to delve into a diverse array of musical experiences this autumn. What better way to enjoy world-class chamber music than in the intimate surroundings of the Barber Institute’s beautiful art-deco concert hall.  Curious newcomers and classical music aficionados will find lots to love in one of our most eclectic seasons to date.”

The Barber Lunchtime Series is free of charge; other events are ticketed. Full listings are available at

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