The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra has announced that its principal guest conductor Japanese conductor Kazuki Yamada will succeed Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla as chief conductor and artistic advisor. The pair will swap roles, as Gražinytė-Tyla moves into a principal guest conductor position.
Yamada’s appointment will come into effect in April 2023 for an initial four and a half-year period. He will be the first non-European conductor to lead the CBSO. Having first worked with the orchestra in 2012, Yamada joined the musicians on their tour of Japan in 2016, which he describes as ‘one of the highlights of my career’. He then went on to be appointed the orchestra’s principal guest conductor in 2018. Earlier this year, his contract was extended until 2023.
He also holds the role of principal conductor of Orchestre Philharmonique de Monte-Carlo, as well as various positions in Japan.
The CBSO’s leader Eugene Tzikindelean commented on Yamada’s appointment, saying ‘I have rarely met a musician that is more faithful to the score or as respectful to the orchestra, whilst also being a brilliant and virtuosic Maestro. I honestly don’t know what I love most about playing with him: his impeccable technique, his exquisite taste in music, style, or the depth of his artistic thoughts. I’m really looking forward to many years of making music together.’
Gražinytė-Tyla has led the CBSO as music director since 2016, when she became the orchestra’s first female music director and only the third female chief conductor of a major British orchestra. The only women to have led such orchestras before her were Marin Alsop, who was principal conductor of the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra from 2002 to 2008, and JoAnn Falletta, principal conductor of the Ulster Orchestra from 2011 to 2014. It was announced earlier this year that Gražinytė-Tyla would move into a principal guest conductor position in summer 2022.
‘I have decided to give up my position of Music Director of the CBSO at the end of the 2021/22 season,’ says Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla. ‘This is a deeply personal decision, reflecting my desire to step away from the organisational and administrative responsibilities of being a Music Director at this particular moment in my life and focusing more on my purely musical activities.’