BBC Symphony Orchestra

BBC Symphony Orchestra

The BBC Symphony Orchestra has played a central role at the heart of British musical life since its inception in 1930, and as the flagship orchestra of the BBC provides the backbone of the BBC Proms with at least a dozen concerts each year, including the First and Last Nights. Strongly committed to twentieth-century and contemporary music, it has given the premiere of more than 1,000 works by composers such as Bartók, Britten, Hindemith, Holst, Stravinsky and Shostakovich, and more recently has premiered BBC commissions by Simon Bainbridge, Jonathan Dove, Michael Nyman and Sir John Tavener among others. Its annual season of concerts as Associate Orchestra of the Barbican includes a weekend each January focusing upon a single composer from the twentieth or twenty-first century, most recently James MacMillan, Elliott Carter and Sofia Gubaidulina.

Jiří Bĕlohlávek took up the post of Chief Conductor in July 2006 and David Robertson was appointed Principal Guest Conductor in 2005. The BBC SO works frequently with Conductor Laureate Sir Andrew Davis and Artist-in-Association John Adams. All concerts are broadcast on BBC Radio 3 and a number are televised, giving the BBC Symphony Orchestra the highest broadcast profile of any orchestra in the UK. The BBC SO is committed to innovative education work, with ongoing projects including the BBC SO Family Orchestra and Music Intro, introducing families to concert-going.

The BBC SO has appeared on 34 of NMC’s CDs, including the best-selling recording of Elgar’s Third Symphony.

Brabbins, Martyn

Artistic Director of the Cheltenham International Festival of Music 2005-2007, he was Associate Principal Conductor of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra 1994-2005. He is Principal Guest Conductor of the Royal Flemish Philharmonic, a position which started in September 2009. After studying composition in London and then conducting with Ilya Musin in Leningrad, his career was launched when he won first prize at the 1988 Leeds Conductors' Competition. Since then Brabbins has regularly conducted all the major UK orchestras and is much sought-after in Europe, notably in Germany, Holland, Belgium and Scandinavia.   
Brabbins’ symphonic engagements have included appearances at London's  South Bank in subscription with the London Philharmonic and Philharmonia orchestras, his Tokyo debut, with the Tokyo Metropolitan (where he returns in 2011); and visits to the Netherlands Radio Chamber in the prestigious Matinee series, the Residentie Orkest, Salzburg Mozarteumorchester and Lahti Symphony.  He is a regular guest with the City of Birmingham Symphony, Halle and BBC Philharmonic orchestras, and appears several times each season with the BBC Symphony and BBC Scottish Symphony orchestras in subscription and at the BBC Proms.

Tynan, Ailish


Ailish Tynan was born in Mullingar, Ireland, and studied at Trinity College and the Royal Irish Academy of Music in Dublin and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, London. In 2003 Ailish represented Ireland in the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World Competition, winning the BBC Singer of the World Rosenblatt Recital Prize. Other awards include the Maggie Teyte Competition/Miriam Licette Award and the RTE Millennium Singer of the Future.

Whilst a member of the former Vilar Young Artist Programme at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, her roles included Papagena in Die Zauberflöte, First Niece in Peter Grimes, Xenia in Boris Godunov and Second Wood Nymph in Rusalka. She has also appeared with Welsh National Opera, Opera Ireland and Seattle Opera, and with orchestras including the BBC Symphony Orchestra, the Hallé Orchestra, RTE National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland, and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra at the 2006 BBC Proms. As a former BBC New Generation Artist, Ailish is also a regular contributor on BBC Radio 3.

As a recitalist, Ailish has collaborated with distinguished accompanists including Malcolm Martineau, Graham Johnston, Julius Drake, Iain Burnside and Barry Douglas, giving recitals at the Edinburgh International Festival, Wigmore Hall and St John's Smith Square, London; her recording of songs of Judith Weir, with Ian Burnside, was released in 2006 on the Signum Classics label.

Image Credit: 
Benjamin Ealovega

BBC Singers

BBC Singers
The BBC Singers is Britain’s only full-time professional chamber choir and a group with an international reputation. Established in 1924, the versatility of this virtuoso 24-voice ensemble is second-to-none, and this flexibility makes the Singers both an important resource in the broadcast music-making of the BBC and a significant presence in British musical life. The BBC Singers’ breadth of repertoire is unsurpassed by any other choral group, singing everything from Renaissance music to the latest contemporary scores, and their unrivalled expertise with the latter has brought about creative relationships with some of the most important composers and conductors of the 20th and 21st centuries. At home on the concert platform as much as in the recording studio, the BBC Singers also regularly work with the BBC’s own orchestras, a wide range of period instrument and contemporary music ensembles, and with a host of internationally-renowned conductors. The group’s rapidly expanding education programme now embraces regular outreach work with school children, youth choirs, the amateur choral community, and young professional composers, singers and conductors. The BBC Singers have a unique place on the British concert scene: a world-class choral ensemble committed to sharing their enthusiasm and creative expertise with audiences and performers, amateurs and professionals, young and old, across the nation and throughout the whole spectrum of the choral community.
Image Credit: 
John Wood
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The first ever disc of Judith Weir's major orchestral works, performed by the BBC Symphony Orchestra under Martyn Brabbins, includes Natural History - a colourful and dramatic setting of Chinese texts for soprano and orchestra; Moon and Star, which sets an ethereal Emily Dickinson poem for virtuoso small choir and orchestra, designed for the BBC Singers who perform it here; and the orchestral pieces Forest, Heroic Strokes of the Bow, and title work The Welcome Arrival of Rain, inspired by the annual Indian monsoon.


"The performances, under the ever-reliable Martyn Brabbins, are excellent, with Ailish Tynan a personable soloist in Natural History." BBC Music Magazine

"The sounds she creates are invariably engaging, and the webs of ideas arresting." Guardian

"The music here displays an undiminished, sharp musical intelligence with an enviable flair for orchestration, dramatic momentum and melodic invention. Again, NMC has done a superb job on something the majors should have produced but rarely do." The Wire


Produced in association with BBC Radio 3


 Judith Weir’s music is published by Chester Music.




This disc was recorded in Studio 1, BBC Maida Vale, London; The Welcome Arrival of Rain was recorded on 18 September 2007, Heroic Strokes of the Bow on 1 October 2007, and Natural HistoryMoon and Star and Forest on 24-25 November 2007.

Recorded in collaboration with the BBC Symphony Orchestra

Producer: ANN MCKAY for BBC SO
Editing and Mastering: ANN MCKAY for BBC SO
Executive Producer: COLIN MATTHEWS

Cover image © IAN BERRY / Magnum Photos
Graphic design FRANCOIS HALL

Chester Novello
Catalogue number:
NMC D137
Release Date:
4 February 2008