Music for Brass Ensembles Part 3: 1990s onwards

Suite No.2 for Brass Quintet, 1st Movement
August 14th 1994
Canadian TV

Suite No.2 for Brass Quintet, full work
13th October 1995
Barber Institute of Fine Arts at Birmingham University

Sonata for Brass Sextet
21st February 2001
Dvorak Hall, Prague

Suite No.3 for Brass Quintet
July 10th 2022
St John's Church, Hagley, Worcestershire

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Dvorak Hall, Prague where Andrew Downes Sonata for Brass Sextet was premiered by Stanislav Suchanek and the Czech Philharmonic Brass Sextet (photo By Nikol Kraft)

More info on these works

An account by his wife and publisher, Cynthia Downes, first posted on September 12th, 2018

In the 1990s a new generation of Birmingham Conservatoire Brass players produced another superb Brass Quintet: 'Brass Pages' (2 trumpets, horn, trombone and tuba), founded and led by trumpeter, Garry Page.  They too asked Andrew for a new work.  They premiered the first movement of Andrew's Suite No.2 for Brass Quintet as soon as it had been written on Canadian TV on August 14th 1994.

Brass Pages gave the first performance of the completed 4 movement work at the Barber Institute of Fine Arts at Birmingham University on 13th October 1995. 

The group went on to give a number of performances in Canada, where Garry Page went to live.

Another excellent performance of Brass Quintet No.2 was given by Paradise Brass at Andrew's 60th birthday concert at Birmingham Conservatoire on November 29th 2010.  

In May 2015, in the final of the Andrew Downes Performance Prize competition at Birmingham Conservatoire, Brass Quintet No.2 was brilliantly played by Perfect 5th Brass Quintet. 

This programme shows the first two entries in the Andrew Downes performance prize. There were more.

This group gave a subsequent performance of the work in June 2015 in the Recital Hall of Birmingham Conservatoire, as part of the Birmingham Conservatoire Chamber Music Festival.

As with Andrew's Suite No.1, I have arranged this second Suite for other instruments.

My arrangement for strings, of the 2nd movement, which I entitled Queen Elizabeth's Fantasy,  because it begins with a Tudor flavour and moves into Jazz, was first performed at the Clent Millennium Festival (Worcestershire) in April 2000, and some time later at the St Saviour's Church, Hagley (Worcestershire), Centenary Concert in November 2008.

Cynthia Downes taking a bow in front of the Clent 2000 Festival String Ensemble

Then I created a full orchestral arrangement of the whole work.  I remember proof reading my arrangement on train journeys back and forth to Stoke Mandeville Hospital where Andrew spent 9 months after his spinal injury.  This orchestral version was first performed at the Hagley Music Festival by the Hagley Community Orchestra, directed by me, on May 11th 2011.

The 4 movements originally didn't have titles, but to go with my title for the second movement, we chose names for them all: Blazon, Queen Elizabeth's Fantasy, Scherzo and Finale.

Stanislav Suchanek, who was responsible for introducing Andrew's Sonata for 8 Horns to his colleagues in the horn section of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra and for organising stunning p
erformances of the work in Prague and other centres, also played in the Czech Philharmonic Brass Sextet.  As a token of his gratitude to Stanislav for the wonderful interpretation of his Sonata for Eight Horns by the Czech Philharmonic Horns, Andrew composed his Sonata for Brass Sextet, which was brilliantly premiered in the Dvorak Hall, Prague, on 21st February 2001 by Stanislav and his colleagues: Miroslav Kejmar and Marek Zvolanek, trumpets, Stanislav Suchanek, horn, Jiri Novotny, trombone, Karel Kucera, bass trombone and Karel Malimanek, tuba.

Email exchange between Andrew Downes and Stanislav Suchanek:

Rudolfinum Brochure and Programme, 02/01:

In the concert programme we were delighted to read: '....The composer was so pleased with their performance that he dedicated a new work for our artists - the Sextet for Brass instruments, the premiere of which we shall hear today.  The music has contrasting parts and demands top qualities from all six players.  The audience will appreciate its unusual sound and compositional brilliance.  We can now look forward to a similar event in the next season of the Czech Philharmonic Concert Calendar - again a world premiere - Andrew Downes' Concerto for 4 Horns and Symphony Orchestra...'

Here are some snippets from the first performance of the Sonata for Brass Sextet:

Movement 1:

Movement 2:

The whole performance by the Czech Philharmonic Brass Sextet was truly magnificent.  We had a wonderful time on that trip.  Anna and her friends came.  They really enjoyed the performance, and the Czech beer when we went out for a drink with Stanislav and his wife, Alena, after the concert!

Andrew Downes in Prague

Poster in Prague advertising the performance

Andrew Downes with the players on the Rudolfinum stage

Stanislav Suchanek, wife Alena, Anna Downes, friends, Cynthia Downes

Stanislav Suchanek, wife Alena, Anna Downes, friends, Andrew Downes

On December 7th 2019 Hextura Brass gave the British premiere of this work at St John the Baptist Church, Holywell, Cambridgeshire.

Sennet Brass Quintet, with Bass Trombonist Andy Clennell, performed the work in February 2024 in their concert at St Peter's Church Harborne.

During the era of the Covid Pandemic, Andrew composed his 3rd Suite for Brass Quintet, for Sennet Brass.  I talk about this more fully in my blog post entitled Works Composed during the Pandemic.

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