We meet… Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla

The appointment of Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla as conductor of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra has generated huge excitement. As she makes her London debut with the orchestra, we share an excerpt of an exclusive interview by Helen Wallace

Credit James Cheadle

The full six-page interview was published in the August 2016 issue of BBC Music Magazine. 

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The elfin figure before me radiates quiet authority. As she talks, her hands perform an elegant choreography in the air. She was clearly born to hold a stage.

Her trajectory from junior songstress to music director of the CBSO has been swift: she is just 29, and is already music director of Salzburg’s Landestheater and associate conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. On 27 August, she will direct her new orchestra at the BBC Proms in the delectable programme with which she will also open her tenure in Birmingham: Mozart, Tchaikovsky and Hans Abrahamsen’s luminously beautiful song-cycle for soprano Barbara Hannigan, let me tell you.

After just one concert with the CBSO last year, chief executive Stpehen Maddock raced through another booking. ‘The orchestra were unanimous. They said she was the clearest conductor they had ever worked with,’ says Maddock. Quite a claim, when that list contains CBSO predecessors Simon Rattle, Sakari Oramo and Andris Nelsons.

The attractions of Birmingham to a music director are many: one of the best halls in the country, an engaged audience, a fine orchestra and chorus used to working with the best, and a lively conservatoire. ‘Stephen says we need the bread-and-butter works’, she says, ‘but we need discoveries too.’ Weinberg will be one composer she wants to share, along with a host of female Lithuanians. 'There's a lot to do; I'm trying to find the right balance.'

Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla's made her London debut at the BBC Proms on 27 Aug. Catch up now on BBC Radio 3, or watch the TV broadcast on BBC Four on 4 Sept. 

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To read the full interview, purchase the August issue here or download a digital copy here. To make sure you don't miss more exclusive content like this, become a subscriber.