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ABOUT Birmingham Symphonic Winds

Birmingham Symphonic Winds was established in 1992 by its Music Director, Keith Allen, with the aim to meet the demands of players in the area wanting to perform with a high quality wind ensemble. Since then it has gained both a national and international reputation as one of the leading wind ensembles of its kind in the UK.

The 45-strong orchestra is made up of players living and working in and around Birmingham and the wider West Midlands and some who travel from across the UK to participate with the ensemble. Birmingham Symphonic Winds has received numerous accolades for its performances spanning the last 22 years. These include a Gold Award at the Finals of the National Concert Band Festival and gala concerts at the Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester in both 1999 and 2004. Birmingham Symphonic Winds has represented the UK on several occasions including WASBE Conferences (World Association of Symphonic Bands and Ensembles) in Schladming, Austria and Killarney, Ireland and at the 4th International Wind Band Festival in Strasbourg, gaining first prize. In December 2003 Birmingham Symphonic Winds promoted British contemporary wind orchestra repertoire and represented Birmingham on the world stage by becoming the first ever British ensemble to perform at the prestigious Midwest Clinic in Chicago, playing to an audience of over 2,000 and in 2007 the ensemble performed at the opening concert of the 'Musik Triennale Koln' in front of Cologne Cathedral. In 2001, Birmingham Symphonic Winds presented a special 80th birthday concert for Sir Malcolm Arnold, in the presence of the composer.

Birmingham Symphonic Winds aims to promote enterprise and excellence through its performances, and promotes its own themed concert series at the CBSO Centre, Birmingham – home to the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. These concerts have featured distinguished soloists including Alison Balsom (trumpet), Craig Ogden (guitar), David Childs (euphonium) and Sarah Williamson (clarinet).

Birmingham Symphonic Winds prides itself on its quality and variety of programming, with a strong dedication to the creation and performance of contemporary works for wind orchestra. As part of an ambitious five-year project Birmingham Symphonic Winds has commissioned works including The Canticle of The Sun for solo percussion and wind ensemble by Martin Ellerby (2006), Divertimento by Guy Woolfenden (2007), Shakespeare Pictures by Nigel Hess (2008) and Second City Ceremony by Philip Sparke (2010). The final new work in this unique commissioning programme, the eagerly awaited Danceries II by Kenneth Hesketh, received its World première in Birmingham on 9 April 2011 alongside the other four commissions in the series.

One of Birmingham Symphonic Winds recent highlights was our critically acclaimed New York debut where we performed at the prestigious Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Centre for the Performing Arts, on 17 April 2011, receiving a standing ovation. All five of the recent Birmingham Symphonic Winds commissions were performed showcasing the best of contemporary British symphonic wind music. Another highlight was celebrating Birmingham Symphonic Winds 20th anniversary at a sell out concert in Birmingham on 10 November 2012. This included the première performance, in the presence of the composer, of John Rutter's Behold, Go Forth and Be Joyful, transcribed for Birmingham Symphonic Winds by Paul Noble. This piece formed part of Birmingham Symphonic Winds exciting tour to Hong Kong in April 2013.

Birmingham Symphonic Winds has performed over 325 different pieces of music, including 18 première performances, in more than 25 different venues in the UK, USA and Europe.

In 2014 Birmingham Symphonic Winds were invited along with their Music Director Keith Allen to become “Ensemble in Residence” at Birmingham University forging links between Birmingham Symphonic Winds and the University Wind Band. Since then some members of Birmingham Symphonic Winds have led sectional rehearsals with BUWB on a regular basis and both groups have shared concerts at the Elgar Concert Hall on the University campus. Keith Allen mentors the student conductors on both repertoire and rehearsal technique.

Birmingham Symphonic Winds is delighted to be supported by Horton’s Estate Ltd.

Board of Trustees

Bill Rogers Chairman
Simon Purkess Finance Manager
Philippa Pearmain Secretary to the Board/Ticket Manager
Carolyn Sankey Development Advisor
Alex Allen Librarian
Keith Allen Ex Officio

Birmingham Symphonic Winds gratefully acknowledges the support of the businesses, individuals, trusts and foundations listed below.

Hortons Voluntary Arts VNational Lottery Making Music PRS Arts Council BASBWE