Birmingham Contemporary Music Group
Contemporary Chamber Ensemble
• Founded 1987
The Birmingham Contemporary Music Group is a chamber ensemble from Birmingham, UK, specializing in contemporary music. The group has actively commissioned original music and has spearheaded several innovative programs aimed at the promotion of contemporary music.
The Birmingham Contemporary Music Group was founded in 1987 by Simon Clugston and Ulrich Heinen, members of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. Conductor Simon Rattle served as the group's founding patron, and in addition to the usual fundraising methods, the group has cultivated the "Sound Investment" program, which allows members of the public to finance commissions of new works. In return, they receive signed copies of the score or its title page and are allowed to attend rehearsals for the premiere. The Birmingham Contemporary Music Group has commissioned more than 175 new works, not only from established composers such as Thea Musgrave and Kevin Volans but also from composers early in their careers who went on to achieve renown. Another innovative program created by the BCMG is the "NEXT Music Study Programme in Contemporary Performance," the only training program in Britain with contemporary music performance as a specific focus. The group often performs without a conductor but has had several music directors or artistic directors, including Thomas Adès (1998-2000), Stephen Newbould (2001-2016), and Stephan Meier (2016-). The ensemble performs regularly in Birmingham (at CBSO Centre, Town Hall, and Symphony Hall) and in London (at Wigmore Hall, the BBC Proms, and the Aldeburgh Festival). It also has a substantial international presence that has included performances in the U.S. (at the Library of Congress), across Europe, and as far away as India. The Birmingham Contemporary Music Group has released various recordings, most on the NMC label; several have won major awards. The ensemble released a recording of David Sawer's Rumpelstiltskin on NMC in 2019.