Birmingham music graduates vying for UK title

Birmingham music graduates vying for UK title

Three orchestras that feature current students and music graduates from Birmingham Conservatoire are among five ensembles battling it out to be crowned the UK’s most inspirational amateur group.

After a nationwide search, current Conservatoire students and alumni in The People’s Orchestra, the North Devon Sinfonia and Stirling Orchestra join the London Gay Symphony Orchestra and Slaithwaite Philharmonic Orchestra in the competition finals.

The latter stages of the competition will be screened as a four-part series – ‘All Together Now: The Great Orchestra Challenge’ – on the BBC.

West Bromwich-based The People’s Orchestra is an independent charity delivering music-related projects across the West Midlands and features a diverse mix of musicians aged between 18 and 75. Alongside Birmingham Conservatoire students, their line-up includes a British Airways pilot, retired aeronautical engineer and a number of doctors and teachers

Conducted by Birmingham Conservatoire graduate Dan Watson, The People’s Orchestra also includes current student Rachael Kendall on saxophone, Edwin Podolski on viola, Dani Bianco-Albert on trumpet and recent graduate Joseph Smith on trombone.

Furthermore, Orchestra members Amrit Sohal (French horn) and Xhosa Cole (saxophone) will both be joining Birmingham Conservatoire as undergraduates next month.

Meanwhile, North Devon Sinfonia was founded by Birmingham alumni – and husband and wife – Dan and Emma Kent in 2004, and their orchestra performs an eclectic repertoire of symphonic music spanning the Romantic era, 20th century and the present day. Their line-up is rich and varied, and includes a cheese maker, lupin grower, postman, and a number of doctors and teachers.

Alongside conductor Emma and leader and violinist Dan, North Devon Sinfonia also features Birmingham Conservatoire graduates Tim Baker (clarinet), Jenny Baker (violin), Rebecca Betambeau (viola), Simon Robilliard (trombone) and Sandra Sutton (violin).



The series will begin on BBC Four at 9pm on Tuesday 30 August, with the winning orchestra crowned in the final episode on BBC Two.

The champions will perform on stage at BBC Proms in the Park, in Hyde Park, London, which will be filmed for broadcast in the final episode of the series.