Birmingham Symphonic Winds

Birmingham Symphonic Winds was established in 1992 by its Music Director, Keith Allen, with the aim of meeting the demands of players wanting to perform with a high-quality wind ensemble. The 45-strong orchestra has achieved an unparalleled track record both nationally and internationally with more accolades for musical enterprise and excellence than any other wind orchestra in the UK. In summer 2022, BSW were selected as a winner of Classic FM’s Big Platinum Performance, a national competition to find the UK’s finest ensembles in association with Making Music. The prize was a professional recording of two pieces which were included on a special Classic FM compilation recording presented as a gift to Her Majesty The Queen in her Platinum Jubilee year. The orchestra celebrated its 30th anniversary in November 2022 at the CBSO Centre, Birmingham with the world premiere of a commissioned piece by their Patron, Martin Ellerby.

BSW prides itself on its quality and variety of programming, with a strong dedication to the creation and performance of contemporary works for wind orchestra. It has performed over 325 different pieces of music, including over 50 première performances, in more than 25 different venues in the UK, USA and Europe. As part of an ambitious five-year project BSW has commissioned works including The Canticle of The Sun for solo percussion and wind ensemble by Martin Ellerby (2006), Divertimento for Band 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 premiere in Birmingham on 9 April 2011 alongside the four other commissions. At its 20th anniversary concert at the CBSO Centre, Birmingham in November 2012, BSW gave the world premiere of Behold, Go Forth and Be Joyful! a three movement suite by John Rutter, which was filmed for YouTube.

The orchestra is held in high regard nationally, performing at venues including the Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester and several prestigious festivals. Its international reputation is also well-deserved: in December 2003 BSW promoted British contemporary wind orchestra repertoire 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. In 2006 the orchestra performed Berio’s Accordo in Birmingham Contemporary Music Group’s Urban Fusion Mouth, Feet, Sound project at the International Convention Centre, Birmingham and again in 2007 at the Cologne Musik Triennale contemporary music festival. In July 2007 BSW represented the UK at the World Association of Symphonic Bands and Ensembles (WASBE) conference in Ireland.

BSW’s critically acclaimed New York debut took place at the Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, in April 2011, receiving a standing ovation. All five BSW commissions were performed showcasing the best of contemporary British symphonic wind music.  In 2014, BSW performed joint concerts in Hong Kong with the Hong Kong Youth Symphonic Band at the Kwai Tsing Theatre and with the Macau Youth Symphonic Band at Macau University. In May 2015, BSW created history by being the only wind orchestra in the world to perform all the wind band music by their Patron Guy Woolfenden in one concert: world-wide-woolfenden was performed to a packed-out audience at the Royal Shakespeare Company Swan Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon.

As part of the 25th anniversary season in 2017, BSW participated in the National Concert Band Festival and received the coveted Platinum Award at both regional and national levels; they were invited to perform a gala concert at the Forum of the Baltic States Wind Orchestra Conductors in Riga, Latvia with an invitation by the British Ambassador to a special reception at the British Embassy. In 2018, BSW were invited to Brussels to represent the UK at the European Championship of Wind Orchestras and were awarded 6th place – a fine achievement out of all the European countries. BSW was ‘Ensemble in Residence’ at Birmingham University from 2014 - 2020, forging links between BSW and the University Wind Band.

Birmingham Symphonic Winds is delighted to be supported by Tristone Capital who became a sponsor in the summer of 2022.

Board of Trustees

Bill Rogers Chair
Phil Ledgard Finance Manager
Philippa Pearmain Secretary to the Board/Ticket Manager
Alex Allan Librarian
Jayne Rollason Marketing
Carolyn Sankey Development
Keith Allen Ex Officio


Birmingham Symphonic Winds gratefully acknowledges the support of the businesses, individuals, trusts and foundations listed on our Support Page.