Winners of two prestigious BBC Young Musician competitions will play for free to global audiences, from the centre of Birmingham’s cultural heart, when Lauren Zhang and Xhosa Cole each perform concerts in a brand-new initiative from Town Hall Symphony Hall (THSH) Birmingham.

THSH is closed but the iconic concert halls cannot be silenced and, in the coming weeks, performances by Xhosa and Lauren will be broadcast on Facebook, enabling audiences to come together in the safety of a digital space.

Nick Reed, Chief Executive of THSH, said:

Music has the power to bring people together.  Our Facebook Watch Parties are ensuring that audiences can do just that. Self-isolation does not need to mean people are isolated from their communities. Town Hall Symphony Hall is committed to bringing live music to our city and beyond and these Facebook Watch Parties will provide an opportunity for our friends to continue their discovery of the best of Brum’s musicians.”

On Monday 30 March, experience the ‘total phenomenon’ that is Lauren Zhang on the Watch Party.

Lauren Zhang began studying piano at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire while attending Birmingham’s King Edward VI High School, and is now considered as one of the world’s finest musicians. When she won the BBC Young Musician 2018, Julian Lloyd Webber, Principal of the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, said: "I can honestly say that Lauren is up there with the best – she is a total phenomenon”. Lauren is soloist with the BBC Orchestra, the BBC Proms and Proms in the Park, the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, the London Mozart Players and the European Union Chamber Orchestra.

Toks Dada, THSH Classical Programme Manager, said:

At just 16-years-old, Lauren Zhang won BBC Young Musician 2018 at Symphony Hall. Almost two years on, I'm delighted that the Birmingham pianist continues to visit and work with our halls. It seems entirely appropriate that Town Hall Symphony Hall has turned to a member of Generation Z, who has grown up in a digital age, to perform classical music to an online audience – encouraging global connectivity at this time of self-isolation.”

On Friday 10 April, join the Watch Party for Xhosa Cole’s Quintet.

Saxophonist Xhosa Cole, described by The Daily Telegraph, as ‘one of the hottest properties in British jazz’, won the BBC Young Jazz Musician 2018 with his ‘heartfelt’ performance. Handsworth-born Xhosa first played the tenor at Andy Hamilton's Ladywood Community Music School and joined the Jazzlines Ensemble as part of THSH’s Talent Development Programme. He regularly performs around Birmingham and teaches the city's next generation of talent.

Mary Wakelam Sloan, Jazz Programme Manager, said:

Throughout its history, jazz has connected with communities across the world. And this performance by a musician as creative and inspiring as Xhosa will reach out to thousands of people. I’m immeasurably proud that the Jazzlines Talent Development Programme has risen to these challenging times with this innovative response, and we thank Arts Council England and PRSF for their support, enabling us to support Birmingham’s freelance musicians during these testing times. This Watch Party will show how jazz has the power and the passion to bring us all together digitally, wherever we are.”

Jazzlines is a unique programme of creative jazz music and talent development from the charity that runs THSH. It offers performance opportunities to emerging and established contemporary jazz musicians as part of a thriving, artistically excellent programme in venues across the city and commissions cutting-edge new work, providing support to ensure future performances and a legacy for new projects.

Jazzlines’ FREE Friday jazz gigs will be performed in Symphony Hall’s brand-new performance space when it opens this autumn. This unique space, for talented local artists to have even more opportunities to perform as part of a daily programme with free and affordable performances, is part of the £13.2 million redevelopment of the world-renowned venue’s foyer.