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Byline: Patsy Fuller

THE New Year is full of eastern promise for the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra.

Selected concerts at Birmingham's Symphony Hall will have an Indian flavour starting this month ranging from traditional Indian music to South Indian classical dance.

It's part of the orchestra's new cultural diversity plan called the Harmony Project which will involve the orchestra working with three ethnic groups in the region - South Asian, Black/African Caribbean and Chinese - over the next three years.

The project aims to take music into the community and to bring communities into the concert hall.

The first concert is on January 21 and features Messiaen's colourful Turangalila-Symphony, an epic orchestral work inspired by Indian music. It will feature the young pianist Joanna MacGregor, whose individual style has won her a huge following, as well as guest ensemble Nadhamanjari. A similar concert on January 24 will feature South Asian music youth orchestra Sam-Yo!

Other concerts will put the spotlight on the often-neglected pre-war British composer John Foulds who was strongly influenced by Indian music, and Gustav Holst, who was also inspired by Indian faiths and myths.

Indian composer AR Rahman will be conducting for two evenings of Bollywood blockbusters in March. Rahman, who is perhaps best known to western audiences through his West End musical Bombay Dreams, will also be composing a new work for the CBSO to be premiered this summer.

JANUARY sees the launch of a new concert series in Warwickshire.

The concerts at the Bridge House Theatre in Warwick will start at 3pm on Sundays - and there'll even be tea and cakes on offer.

Six leading chamber music ensembles will be stopping off at the theatre at Warwick School over the next four months to give concerts. They are part of a national initiative aimed at "unstuffing" chamber music and reaching out to new audiences.

The Around The Country initiative wants to create an intimate, relaxed and friendly atmosphere by seating the audience around the musicians.

The opening concert of the series, backed by Warwick Arts Society, is on January 25 and will feature the Wakeford Ensemble, a septet who'll play works by Mozart, Brahms, Debussy and Ravel as well as the premiere of a new piece by Leamington composer Howard Skempton.

Other ensembles lined up for future concerts are the Belcea String Quartet, the Florestan Piano Trio, vocal group I Fagiolini, the Kungsbacka PianoTrio and London Winds. Tickets 01926 496277.

THERE are two chances coming up to see award-winning conductor Marin Alsop in action.

Alsop, named conductor of the year in the 2003 Royal Philharmonic Awards, will be conducting the National Youth Orchestra for a concert at Birmingham Symphony Hall on Wednesday.

She'll also be in Coventry when the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, of which she is principal conductor, plays at Warwick Arts Centre at the end of the month.

The Coventry concert on January 30 and will feature Tchaikovsky's Fransceca da Rimini and Mahler's seventh symphony.


EASTERN PROMISE: Pianist Joanna MacGregor (right) plays with guest enemble Nadhamanjari at Birmingham Symphony Hall on January 21 and (above) Sam-Yo play Asian music on January 24; COMPOSER: A R Rahman will be conducting two evenings of Bollywood music at the Birmingham Symphony Hall in March
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:Jan 2, 2004
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