A teacher at Old Swinford Hospital will soon be enjoying tea with the Queen after receiving an invitation to an exclusive royal garden party.
Anna Downes, Head of Instrumental Studies, will attend the Queen’s Garden Party at Buckingham Palace in May 2015 in recognition of her ‘outstanding contribution to music in the community’.
This will be an exciting year for Anna, as she has just been appointed Director of Music at Old Swinford Hospital from September 2015, following the retirement of Tony Bridgewater.
Anna set up Central England Ensemble in 2001, in order to promote the music of Birmingham based composers, and to provide a high standard performance platform for recently graduated musicians. The orchestra has done nearly 100 concerts in the Midlands, elsewhere in the UK and on tour in France and Germany. Around 1,000 musicians have been involved over the years, and around 30 young composers. The orchestra has its own Concerto Competition which attracts promising young soloists from all UK music colleges and for the first time in 2013, a Composer’s Competition, of which OSH student Matt Eden was a finalist in 2015.
She has also run workshops with West Mercia Probation Services and with 1,000 primary school children at Birmingham’s Symphony Hall.
In addition to Central England Ensemble, Anna set up a professional chamber orchestra in 2013 called Central England Camerata. All proceeds from their concerts are donated to charity and this year they are supporting the Stourbridge branch of Oxfam.
In December 2013, she staged a ‘Come and Sing Messiah’, with massed choirs from the area and the orchestra at St John’s Church in Hagley and in summer 2014, the Camerata did ‘Arias for a Summer Evening’ with Worcester Male Voice Choir at OSH. Future projects are planned to continue to support Oxfam and the Spinal Injuries Association.