Symphony No.5 was premiered at the Adrian Boult Hall, Birmingham (CC photo by metrogogo)
17th March 2002
Adrian Boult Hall Birmingham
Birmingham Flute Day
Conductor - Carol Kniebusch-Noe
An account by his wife and publisher, Cynthia Downes, posted on December 17th, 2021
SYMPHONY No.5 Scored for Flute Orchestra Opus 79 (2001)
Margaret Lowe, who was very instrumental in promoting all of Andrew’s music for flutes, commissioned 3 works from Andrew, each one of which was for her Birmingham Flute Commission Flute Day (later known as the National Flute Day), which she organised at Birmingham Conservatoire once every two years, inviting flutists from all over the UK and the USA.
For the third commission from Margaret, for which she obtained funds from ‘The Awards for All Programme’, Andrew took the opportunity to write a Symphony for Flutes. No known work of this magnitude existed. The work follows the traditional lines of orchestral symphonies.
Margaret asked her favourite conductor, the superb Carol Kniebusch Noe, to conduct the Birmingham Professional Flute Ensemble in the premiere in the Adrian Boult Hall at Birmingham Conservatoire on March 17th 2002, with financial assistance provided by the Brannen-Cooper Fund. Carol flew over from the USA with a number of excellent American professional flutists, who had already played Andrew’s music and who were very excited to come on the trip to play in the Symphony.
ISM Journal article:
Arrangements for the Flute Day:
'... the daring idea to compose a work for large-scale flute orchestra ... the talented forces of a special ten-voice ensemble, some 30 strong, assembled to premiere Andrew Downes Fifth Symphony. Commissioned to crown Birmingham Flute Commission’s Flute Day .., this substantial piece is immediately attractive, often minimalist in its rhythmic patterning and had the visual delight of featuring two contrabass flutes.' THE BIRMINGHAM POST
'... Andrew Downes’ voice is very much his own. We must be grateful to him for a major contribution to the flute ensemble repertoire.' Kenneth Bell PAN MAGAZINE
'... Andrew Downes again demonstrates his deep appreciation for the instrument.' Chris Wilson PAN MAGAZINE
'... We were all sent our parts ahead of time ... there was no way we could have known how glorious this piece would be ... Putting it all together in that first rehearsal was unforgettable!' Sharyn Byer THE (USA) FLUTIST QUARTERLY
Letters from performers:
Carol conducted the American premiere on 18th August 2002 at the Convention of the USA National Flute Association in Washington DC. The US National Flute Association Professional Flute Choir were the performers.
Flute choirs are extremely popular in America and Andrew’s Sonata for 8 Flutes, his Fantasia for Alto and Bass Flute Soloists with Five Part Concert Flute Choir, and his Song of the Eagle had been performed all over the USA. I have sold hundreds of sets of scores and parts of these pieces, as well as the Symphony No 5, to numerous flute choirs in the States. So when the USA premiere of the Flute Symphony was given by The National Flute Association Professional Flute Choir, the hall was packed and the performance was superb.
Performance of Andrew Downes' Flute Symphony by the USA National Flute Convention's Professional Flute Choir directed by Carol Kniebusch Noe, Washington DC, August 2002
The National Flute Convention, 2001:
Write-ups (USA National Flute Convention):
Andrew and I took a short holiday in Virginia just before attending his Washington DC premiere. We stayed in a motel with a beautiful view of the Blue Ridge Mountains and sat peacefully enjoying the view most of the time, because the temperatures were over 100°F! The heat remained as we arrived in Washington DC. I really wanted to see the White House and Capitol Hill. We walked there from our hotel, great distances in the intense heat and with very little shade. Despite his Ankylosing Spondilis Andrew coped very well.
Andrew Downes, Luray, Virginia, 2001
Andrew & Cynthia Downes, Capitol Hill, Washington, 2002
Numerous subsequent performances of Symphony No 5 for Flute
Orchestra, individual movements and the whole work, have since taken
place. Those we know about include performances by:
Andrew Downes & Cynthia Downes' stall, First National Flute Choir Day, 2005
Listen to the premiere:
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