CBSO show investment needed to reach worldwide audience

The recent City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra concert not only showcased performance excellence but also the investment needed for successful major online events.

  The amount of work required was extensive

Although a number of individual bands in the UK have been working exceptionally hard to hold regular socially distanced rehearsals, the logistical demands to host a large contest events remains an almost surmountable problem.


An example of the work entailed was recently seen by the requirements needed for the 75 members of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra to be brought together at a venue for a socially distanced online performance under the baton of Sir Simon Rattle.

Birmingham-based companies Outdoor Places and Unusual Spaces (OPUS), JA Productions and Production Resource Group (PRG) partnered the orchestra, at the special live-stage facility in Longbridge.

Staged to commemorate the orchestra's 100th birthday celebrations, the concert was streamed free of charge on YouTube and Facebook — enjoying 170,000 views and receiving global positive support.

Extensive work

The closure of its home at Symphony Hall earlier this year meant that the CBSO's centenary birthday celebrations were unable to take place, so extensive work, starting in June was undertaken to host this single broadcast event.

The studio set up included a 40m2 Black Onyx LED Video wall which showcased bespoke content that celebrates the CBSO's centenary as an Orchestra of Firsts, over 150 automated lighting fixtures and spot units and full HD cameras.

PRG also supplied the post-production edit suite and set up a fully backed-up livestream via LAN satellite and high-speed internet to ensure minimal disruption. There were also five guest artist dressing rooms, a technical production office, and personal space for guest artists to warm up in private as well as socially-distanced break out areas for each of the 75 members of the orchestra.

Everyone involved was temperature checked on arrival as well as an air handling unit to regulate and circulate the air, in line with current requirements.


Speaking about the initiative, Managing Director of OPUS, Caroline Davis said: "We were delighted to conceive this event celebration befitting the CBSO 100th birthday.

We identified an opportunity having seen the potential impact that live streams have offered the arts. We felt a virtual performance was the key to enabling the celebrations to go ahead without further delay and bring music back to people's lives, albeit in their living rooms than a concert hall."

An enormous amount of pre-production is required for a ground-breaking event like thisVice President of Event Services at PRG, Richard Gorrod


Meanwhile, Vice President of Event Services at PRG, Richard Gorrod added: "An enormous amount of pre-production is required for a ground-breaking event like this. Although PRG has vast experience in all types of events, each one is unique and poses its own set of challenges.

Chief Executive of City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra Stephen Maddock said: "The Orchestra have had a flood of positive well-wishes and messages from our audiences, board, staff and international equivalents from across the world, saying how much they enjoyed the Centenary celebrations. The figures show the incredible reach our music making can have."


The CBSO's 100th Birthday Celebration is available on Vimeo, to stream FREE until 30th September.


Image copyright: Andrew Fox

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