Music & Conversation: The Podcast of English Composer Andrew Downes
Episode 26: Composer and Pianist Martin Riley

Episode 26: Composer and Pianist Martin Riley

March 1, 2021

Paula Downes interviews Martin Riley: Composer, Performer, Music Director, Mentor, and student at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire from 1988 when Andrew Downes was setting up his school of Composition and Creative Studies there. Martin has gone on to teach at the Conservatoire himself as well as having an extremely successful performing and composing career, ranging from touring with Classical Brit Award winners Blake performing live on BBC Radio 2 on Terry Wogan’s show and BBC London Radio for Gaby Roslin; to composing for the Moscow Symphony and Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestras; from arranging and composing music for the Southern Sinfonia (composer-in-residence) to playing keyboards with Roger Daltrey and Alice Cooper.
https://www.andrewdownes.com
https://martinriley.info

Episode 25: Composer and Pianist Tony Bridgewater

Episode 25: Composer and Pianist Tony Bridgewater

January 29, 2021

Paula Downes interviews Tony Bridgewater: composer, pianist, conductor, teacher and family friend. He met Andrew Downes at the Birmingham School of Music (now Royal Birmingham Conservatoire) in the late 70s for advice on studying at Cambridge and composition. He met Anna Downes at a concert, after which he employed her as Head of Instrumental Studies at Old Swinford Hospital School, where he was Director of Music. They have since given many recitals together, performing works by both Andrew and Tony, and have been joined by soprano Paula Downes, for whom Tony has written 2 song cycles which are featured on this podcast: The Other Side of the Mirror and Snowflakes. On one occasion they were also joined by violist Cynthia Downes for the premieres of 2 song cycles by Andrew Downes. Tony talks about how his compositions have since been influenced by the music of Andrew Downes.

Works by Andrew Downes featured on this podcast include Celtic Rhapsody for Soprano and Symphony Orchestra with piano reduction by Paula Downes, song cycles The Door of Winter and Four Songs of Bluebeard's Wife, with poetry by living poets Bernard Davis and Julie Boden, and his Violin Sonata.

Around the Horn by Frank Downes: Chapter 7

Around the Horn by Frank Downes: Chapter 7

January 16, 2021

Paula Downes reads her Grandfather and Andrew Downes' father Frank's book, Around the Horn, which tells the story of the Classical Music Industry from the point of view of a professional Horn player. Born 1921, died 2005, his fascinating orchestral career spanned the demise of the silent cinema, municipal seaside orchestras, the RAF Central band during World War II, orchestral playing in pre and post-war Britain, and the rise towards a Royal title for the Birmingham Conservatoire. Chapter 7 tells of RAF Central Band Marches around  cities including Birmingham and Cardiff; of his wedding to Iris; and recounts Dennis Matthews' diary of events of his experiences of the RAF Central Band tour of America. At the end of the episode, the first movement of Andrew Downes' Sonata for 8 Horns is played since ithe premiere took place at the University of Mexico, near the route of the 40-hour train journey Dennis Matthews describes from Fort Worth, Texas to Phoenix, Arizona. The recording is of the Horns of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra for the Artesmon Label. The full work can be heard at andrewdownes.com, where you can also purchase the CD and WAV files.

We are delighted to announce that our podcast has been chosen as no.19 of the TOP 30 COMPOSITION PODCASTS by Feedspot!

https://blog.feedspot.com/music_composition_podcasts/   

Around the Horn by Frank Downes: Chapter 6

Around the Horn by Frank Downes: Chapter 6

December 14, 2020

Paula Downes reads her Grandfather and Andrew Downes' father Frank's book, Around the Horn, which tells the story of the Classical Music Industry from the point of view of a professional Horn player. Born 1921, died 2005, his fascinating orchestral career spanned the demise of the silent cinema, municipal seaside orchestras, the RAF Central band during World War II, orchestral playing in pre and post-war Britain, and the rise towards a Royal title for the Birmingham Conservatoire. Chapter 6 tells of funny mishaps during RAF parades; touring south Wales and meeting his brother in Cardiff where he was performing with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic as the Lead Violist; and most importantly of his engagement to his wife Iris, and the lovely time they spent in Colchester, where she was working for the Fire Service. At the end of the episode, the first movement of Andrew Downes' 3rd Symphony is played since it is a work Iris loved. The recording comes from the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra's recording of all of Andrew's Symphonies. The full work can be heard at andrewdownes.com.

Around the Horn by Frank Downes: Chapter 5

Around the Horn by Frank Downes: Chapter 5

November 26, 2020

Paula Downes reads her Grandfather and Andrew Downes' father Frank's book, Around the Horn, which tells the story of the Classical Music Industry from the point of view of a professional Horn player. Born 1921, died 2005, his fascinating orchestral career spanned the demise of the silent cinema, municipal seaside orchestras, the RAF Central band during World War II, orchestral playing in pre and post-war Britain, and the rise towards a Royal title for the Birmingham Conservatoire. Chapter 5 tells of Frank's fascinating adventures with the RAF Central Band, as well as memories of the amazing horn playing of Dennis Brain. At the end of this episode, Andrew Downes' Concerto for Four Horns and Symphony Orchestra, 1st movement is played since many of the works mentioned in this chapter are horn concertos, and Frank was present at the premiere. The recording comes from the radio broadcast by the horns of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, for whom the work was written, with the Czech Radio Orchestra in 2003. The full work can be heard at andrewdownes.com.

Around the Horn by Frank Downes, Chapter 4

Around the Horn by Frank Downes, Chapter 4

September 17, 2020

Paula Downes reads her Grandfather and Andrew Downes' father Frank's book, Around the Horn, which tells the story of the Classical Music Industry from the point of view of a professional Horn player. Born 1921, died 2005, his fascinating orchestral career spanned the demise of the silent cinema, municipal seaside orchestras, the RAF Central band during World War II, orchestral playing in pre and post-war Britain, and the rise towards a Royal title for the Birmingham Conservatoire. Chapter 4 tells of Frank meeting his future wife, Iris; his successful audition for the RAF Central Band and adventures as a raw recruit including the forging of many longterm friendships with musicians such as Dennis Brain and Denis Matthews; his time studying with Frank Probyn at the Royal College of Music. At the end of this episode, Andrew Downes' Sonata for Four Horns, 1st movement is played to highlight the fact that Andrew followed in his father's footsteps by learning the French horn and by studying singing and composition at the Royal College of Music with Herbert Howells. The recording comes from the CD, Andrew Downes: Works for Horns and Wagner Tubas, decidated to the memory of Frank Downes.

Around the Horn by Frank Downes: Chapter 3

Around the Horn by Frank Downes: Chapter 3

September 6, 2020

Paula Downes reads her Grandfather and Andrew Downes' father Frank's book, Around the Horn, which tells the story of the Classical Music Industry from the point of view of a professional Horn player. Born 1921, died 2005, his fascinating orchestral career spanned the demise of the silent cinema, municipal seaside orchestras, the RAF Central band during World War II, orchestral playing in pre and post-war Britain, and the rise towards a Royal title for the Birmingham Conservatoire. Chapter 3 tells of the declaration of World War II, his first gig with the now CBSO, working with Adrian Boult and Malcom Sargent, air raids and fear. This episode ends with Andrew Downes' Symphony No.2, 1st movement since it depicts the fear and melancholy Frank experienced during this terrifying period. There are also sections that sound like air raids and bombs with angular strings, wailing ostinatos and loud percussion; and there is a sense of hope in parts, which depicts the excitement of performing such great music alongside such great musicians.

Around the Horn by Frank Downes: Chapter 2

Around the Horn by Frank Downes: Chapter 2

August 2, 2020

Paula Downes reads her Grandfather and Andrew Downes' father Frank's book, Around the Horn, which tells the story of the Classical Music Industry from the point of view of a professional Horn player. Born 1921, died 2005, his fascinating orchestral career spanned the demise of the silent cinema, municipal seaside orchestras, the RAF Central band during World War II, orchestral playing in pre and post-war Britain, and the rise towards a Royal title for the Birmingham Conservatoire. Chapter 2 tells of his first piano concerto performance; his first Radio broadcast on the BBC; his brother's kind gift of a French horn; piano and horn lessons; experiences playing the horn in amateur and professional orchestras; and the start of World War II. This episode ends with Andrew Downes' Symphony No.1 2nd movement since it depicts the horrors of Nuclear War.

Around the Horn by Frank Downes: Chapter 1

Around the Horn by Frank Downes: Chapter 1

July 18, 2020

Paula Downes reads her Grandfather and Andrew Downes' father Frank's book, Around the Horn, which tells the story of the Classical Music Industry from the point of view of a professional Horn player. Born 1921, died 2005, his fascinating orchestral career spanned the demise of the silent cinema, municipal seaside orchestras, the RAF Central band during World War II, orchestral playing in pre and post-war Britain, and the rise towards a Royal title for the Birmingham Conservatoire. Chapter 1 tells of his life in industrial Walsall and his lucky fortune to have parents who encouraged him and his 9 siblings to learn instruments in their tiny house on a noisy street. This episode ends with Andrew Downes' Overture, Towards a New Age to depict the industrial Black Country since it was commissioned for the 150th Birthday of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.

Episode 17: Oboist George Caird

Episode 17: Oboist George Caird

April 27, 2020

Paula Downes interviews George Caird, internationally renowned oboist and former Head of the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, at the same time as when Andrew Downes was Head of the School of Composition and Creative Studies there. George talks about his time at the Conservatoire, his career as an oboist, and his other Headships and we present his and pianist Malcom Wilson's recording of Andrew Downes' Oboe Sonata of 1995, "Idyll: In the Gardens of Burdwan".

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