Birmingham Contemporary Music Group performed the first of two concerts at the US Library of Congress in Washington DC on Tuesday (April 8).

The concert, along with Friday's performance (April 11) was part of Oliver Knussen’s residency at the Library of Congress.

The Mayor and Mayoress of Birmingham, Coun Mike and Pauline Leddy, also attended the opening concert at the Coolidge Auditorium.

A Washington Post review described Tuesday's performance by the BCMG musicians as "outstanding".

For the second concert, pianist Huw Watkins will join BCMG for an evening of British and American chamber music, which will see the world premiere of a new piano trio by American composer Marc Neikrug, paired with Frank Bridge’s Piano Trio No. 2.

BCMG’s co-founder and principal cellist Ulrich Heinen and the ensemble's principal violinist Alexandra Wood will play Stradivarius instruments from the Library of Congress’s collection of historic instruments.

Susan H Vita, Chief Music Division, Library of Congress, presents the Lord Mayor Mike Leddy with a gift for the City of Birmingham
Susan H Vita, Chief Music Division, Library of Congress, presents the Lord Mayor Mike Leddy with a gift for the City of Birmingham
 

The US Library of Congress is the largest library in the world and the oldest federal cultural institution in the USA.

The Music Division of the US Library of Congress has one of the largest collection of musical manuscripts in the world and, through the generosity of Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge, it embarked upon a comprehensive programme of commissioning new music. Commissioning continued in recent years by the Serge Koussevitsky Foundation, also administered by the US Library of Congress.

Previous commissions have included works by Igor Stravinsky, Aaron Copland, Elliott Carter, Frank Bridge and Benjamin Britten.

Birmingham Contemporary Music Group formed from within the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra in 1987.

With a central commitment to composers and the presentation of new work, BCMG has premiered over 150 new works, many commissioned through its pioneering Sound Investment scheme.

BCMG during rehearsals in Washington DC
BCMG during rehearsals in Washington DC