Soloists with Orchestra

If you have performed in any of Andrew Downes' works or come to listen, please share your experiences in the Premieres Blog! Also see what others have said. Thank you so much for your contribution.

Piano and String Orchestra


Five Movements for Piano and String Orchestra
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This work was first performed by Malcolm Wilson and the Birmingham School Of Music String Orchestra, conducted by Geoffrey Duggan, in the Recital Hall of the Birmingham School of Music (now Birmingham Conservatoire) on December 12th 1977.

' This work...has emotional strength displayed in short movements of well developed structure. The lay-out, clear and unfussed, uses string textures with a solo piano part of effective proportions. Melodic ideas bearing a broad family relationship tie the five parts, varied though they are, in a bond of dramatic unity.'

Movement 4 of the work was performed by Paula Downes (piano) with the Lynwood Lea Ensemble, in a concert devoted to music by Andrew Downes and entitled 'Downes Towards the Millennium', in St John's Church, Hagley, in September 1999.

2 Movements from this work were performed by Kevin Robson with Oldswinford Hospital School Chamber Crchestra, directed by Anna Downes, in St Mary's Church, Oldswinford, and in St John's Church, Hagley, in July 2008. 

The whole work was performed by Duncan Honeybourne with the Central England Ensemble (leader Anna Downes), directed by Lee Armstrong, in Carr's Lane Church, Birmingham, in June 2015.

Arrangement of the work for Piano Quartet, by Cynthia Downes, first performed at the Friends' Meeting House, Hertford, on October 10th 1997 by 'Contrasts': Gillian Mayer (piano), Alla Sharova (violin), John Mayer (viola) and Thomas Gardner (cello).  These musicians gave subsequent performances at Birmingham Conservatoire (February 1999), Middachten Castle in Holland (October 2000), and in Luxembourg. 

'This proved to be constantly interesting music and delightfully approachable. It has many beauties - melodies and fascinating rhythms - and makes the most of each of the instruments. The performance was vigorous, sensitive and confident, and in response to the audience's enthusiastic appreciation, the last movement was repeated as an encore at the end of the recital. It confirmed the first impression that further hearings would reveal even greater beauties in the music.'

Arrangement of the work for Piano Quintet, by Cynthia Downes, first performed at the United Reformed Church, Wylde Green, Sutton Coldfield, on May 6th 2017 by the Amabile Quintet: Anna Downes and Dan Neville (violins), Victoria Backhouse (viola), Joanne Jefferis (cello)  and Marcel Zidani (piano).

Arrangement of movements 2,3 and 4 for piano and orchestra, by Cynthia Downes, first performed by Michael Jones (piano) with the Hagley Community Orchestra, conducted by Cynthia Downes, in a 'Spring Celebration' concert in St Saviour's Church, Hagley, in May 2014.

2 Pianos and String Orchestra


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Commissioned by the Bishop of Naples to celebrate the restoration of the Cathedral of Barletta, S.Italy. Piano parts written especially for the Duo Scaramouche. The Italian premiere had to be postponed because of tragic earthquake damage to the restored cathedral.

At the British premiere, on November 27th 1997 in the Adrian Boult Hall, Birmingham, and at the French premiere on March 11th 1998 in the Salle Cortot, Paris, the Avison Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Steven Lloyd, accompanied the Duo Scaramouche.  The first London performance, by the Duo Scaramouche with Symphonia UK, conducted by Steven Lloyd, took place at St James, Piccadilly, in August 1999. A video recording was made of this concert and is now available on DVD from Lynwood Music.

The work has been broadcast many times on Musicians Page Radio, Los Angeles, USA.

'Appropriately, much of its thematic material derives from the close scalic nature of plainsong; rhythms and textures reflect the composer's interest in World Music. Within these parameters the work strikes as another example of Downes' craftsmanship.'

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Guitars and String Orchestra


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Concerto for Guitar, Bass Guitar and Strings
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Commissioned by guitarists Simon Dinnigan and Fred T.Baker. The premiere took place on l8th November 1997 in the Adrian Boult Hall, Birmingham. The guitarists were accompanied by the Thallein ensemble conducted by the composer.  The concerto was subsequently performed on June 16th 2002 at the Phoenix Arts Centre, Exeter, Devon, by guitarists Steve Gordon and Fred T Baker, with the Western Sinfonia conducted by Scott Stroman.'Andrew Downes' Concerto.. was full of delightful music.'

This work was recorded for CD in July 1999, by Simon Dinnigan and Fred T.Baker together with String players from the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, conducted by the composer. The CD, entitled Concerto for Two Guitars (Classicprint label - CPVP013CD), also features Cool Largowhich is an arrangement for guitar and electric bass guitar of Downes' Piano Sonatina Mvt 2. The CD has been broadcast on BBC Radio 3, several times on Dutch Radio, and many times on Musicians Page Radio, Los Angeles, USA. To purchase the CD, click hereThe CD received an excellent review on MusicWeb International in September 2001 Read Review 

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Flute and Strings


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Andrew Downes first discovered the Native American flute during his trip to New Mexico (for the premiere of his Sonata for 8 Horns) in 1996. During this visit, he was fortunate enough to meet Pueblo Indians and visit Sky City, all of which, together with the New Mexican landscape, inspired this concerto.

The concerto was first performed on a Cedarwood flute made by Pueblo Indians. The premiere took place on 25th March 2003 in the Adrian Boult Hall, Birmingham, as part of the Birmingham Conservatoire Music Xtra Festival. Soloist, Rebecca Massey, who learnt the instrument especially for the occasion, was accompanied by the Strings of the Central England Ensemble. The conductor was Richard Laing. A second performance by the same musicians took place in St.Saviour's Church, Hagley, Worcestershire, on 6th April 2003.

'Typically for this composer, it conveys a sense of some huge, pervasive spiritual force.' THE BIRMINGHAM POST

The first American performance of this work was given at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation Church in Phoenix, Arizona, by Alexander Viazovtsev (alto flute) with the Fine Arts String Orchestra, conducted by Warren Cohen, on 6th May 2007.

An arrangement by Cynthia Downes for Concert Flute, Oboe and Orchestra was first performed on 24th April 2013 in St John’s Church, Hagley, Worcestershire, as part of the 2013 Hagley Music Festival.  Soloists Diane McCreedy (flute) and Nadia Accili (oboe) were accompanied by the Hagley Community Orchestra.  The performance was introduced and directed by Cynthia Downes.  The composer joined the orchestra (on keyboard) for this performance.

‘Having Andrew Downes present at the concert and performing in it was very special, as was having his wife’s personal observations on the background to the Native American Concerto.’  David Blackburn, CONTACT Magazine.


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Four Horns and Symphony Orchestra

Opus 77 (2000) 25'  

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Composed for the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra and first performed by them with soloists Radek Baborak, Stanislav Suchanek, Ondrej Vrabec, and Zdenek Divoky, conducted by Vladimir Valek, in the Dvorak Hall of the Rudolfinum, Prague, Czech Republic, on 28th February 2002. A second performance took place in the same venue the following evening, 1st March. The work was recorded by the same soloists with the Czech Radio Orchestra and broadcast on Czech Radio in March 2003.

'The British composer Andrew Downes (born 1950) ranks today among the internationally acclaimed personalities. He has produced compositions of all genres: song cycles, choirs, cantatas, chamber pieces for various ensembles, symphonic compositions as well as church music. Downes's chamber pieces are often written for the woodwinds - Downes pays special attention chiefly to flute and French horn ... Downes made a successful debut in Prague with his Sonata for 8 French Horns, and the horn section of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, Czech Philharmonic Horns, recorded this sonata for Czech Radio and a CD, which was well received and highly appreciated by experts. In February 2001, another Downes composition for brass instruments interpreted by members of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra was heard in the Dvorak Hall - Sonata for Brass Sextet. The premiere tonight - Concerto for 4 French Horns and Orchestra - was directly inspired by the interpretational art of the horn section of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra.' PROGRAMME NOTE TO FIRST PERFORMANCE

'In my forty five years of listening to music seriously there have been some notable and unforgettable milestones. These include the first hearings of such masterworks as Beethoven's Symphony no. 7, Dvorak's Carnival Overture, Humphrey Searle's The Riverrun (and, indeed, all else that he wrote) Irving Fine's The Hour Glass, the music of Webern and now, Andrew Downes's Concerto for four horns and orchestra Op.77, a truly staggering piece.'  DR DAVID WRIGHT, MUSICWEB  For the whole article, click here


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Piano and Symphony Orchestra


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Composed for pianist Duncan Honeybourne, the Central England Ensemble and Music Director Anthony Bradbury, and first performed by them at Birmingham Town Hall on 1st March 2009.  The work was recorded for CD at the first performance, and copies can be purchased by clicking here.   The recording has been broadcast many times on Musicians Page Radio, Los Angeles, USA.

There was a great audience reaction to the premiere of the concerto, and written comments included:                                                                                                          

'Andrew's composition, Concerto for Piano and Symphony Orchestra was wonderful.  I felt so uplifted after the performance.'                                                              

'We thought the second movement particularly wonderful.'                                                                                                                                                                     

'So many people said wonderful things about the evening - we thought the music was superb - you really are a great composer Andrew. ... Have you begun the next one Andrew, because you now have a captive audience?'                                                                                                                                                                  

'Congratulations on a wonderful composition.  Keep them coming!'                                                                                                                                                            

'The piano concerto was real success!'                                                                                                                                                                                               

We loved the Piano Concerto - I'd love to hear it again!'                                                                                                                                                                         

'It was a great privilege to be present at the premiere of your piano concerto. It was an unforgettable experience.  Several people around us said it should be in the general repertoire.  It is such an exciting work that it deserves many more performances.  You seem to go from strength to strength!  Do continue to excite and entertain your friends and supporters with your music.'                                                                                                                                                                                           

'Wow, what can I say?! We all thoroughly enjoyed the concert last night, especially the piano concerto.'                                                                                                

'The piano concerto was fantastic ---- hearing the concerto at the first performance is something that I will remember for a long time.'

On June 26th 2010 a second performance was given by the same artists in Coventry Cathedral.


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Solo Horn and Symphony Orchestra


Composed for Ondrej Vrabec (Principal and Solo Horn Czech Philharmonic Orchestra), the Central England Ensemble and Music Director Anthony Bradbury, and first performed by them in Birmingham Town Hall on October 21st 2012, in a concert to celebrate the 10th anniversary of CEE.  The concert was sponsored by Irwin Mitchell, Personal Injury Solicitors, and raised funds for Paraplegic Sports at Stoke Mandeville Hospital.

'the renowned composer Andrew Downes ---- horn star Ondrej Vrabec took centre stage in the exhilarating new Andrew Downes Horn Concerto.  Conductor Anthony Bradbury had obviously worked everyone thoroughly for this taxing work, therefore all evidently enjoyed the fanfares, echo phrases, catchy dance-rhythms, musical questions and answers.
'Thrilling woodwinds eventually led to a richly harmonic plainsong style and gentle sensitive solo lines.
'Complex rhythms teased in the exciting finale of this most accessible work, eventually finishing with the soloist's triumphant 'whoop'.'

‘The audience were enraptured, and left the building with the harmonies dancing round their heads.’

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Soprano and Symphony Orchestra

CELTIC RHAPSODY Opus 81 (2002) 20' for Soprano and Symphony Orchestra