Andrew Downes was born in Birmingham, England, in 1950. He won a choral scholarship to St John’s College, Cambridge (in 1969), where he also specialised in composition; and in 1974 went on to study with composer Herbert Howells at the Royal College of Music, London. Between 1990 and 2005, he was Head of the School of Composition and Creative Studies at Birmingham Conservatoire. He now works as a freelance composer.
Andrew Downes’ music has been performed throughout the world, in many leading concert halls and cathedrals, and has been broadcast on BBC Radios 2,3 & 4, BBC TV, ‘France Musique’, Italian TV, Austrian Radio, Dutch Radio, Central Peking Radio and Czech Radio. 15 CDs have been made of his music as well as a DVD of his opera Far from the Madding Crowd.
His past commissions have included: The Marshes of Glynn for the Royal opening of the Adrian Boult Hall in Birmingham UK in 1986; Centenary Firedances for the City of Birmingham’s Centenary Festival of Fireworks and Music; an Overture for the UK Three Choirs Festival; songs for ‘Cantamus’ Girls’ Choir; song cycles for mezzo-soprano Sarah Walker and tenor John Mitchinson for broadcast on BBC Radio 3; anthems for the BBC Radio 4 Daily Service; Sonata for 8 Horns for the Horn Octet of the University of New Mexico (recorded for Czech Radio and CD by the horns of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra and performed by the Czech Philharmonic Horns many times both in the Czech Republic and UK); Suite for 6 Horns for the Vienna Horn Society; Song of the Eagle for the James Madison University Flute Choir of Virginia USA; Concerto for Two Pianos for the Parisian Duo Scaramouche; Sonata for 8 Pianists for soloists from France, Italy and Britain; Mela Kamavardhani for performances by Indo-Jazz Fusions in Calcutta, Delhi and Bombay; Fanfare for Madam Speaker, for the Installation of the Rt Hon Betty Boothroyd MP as Chancellor of the Open University of the UK; Concert Overture ‘Towards a New Age’ for the 150th anniversary of the British Institution of Mechanical Engineers, premiered by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra; and Suite for Brass Sextet for the Czech Philharmonic Brass Sextet premiered in the Dvorak Hall, Prague in 2001.
In 2002, Andrew composed Concerto for 4 Horns and Orchestra for soloists Radek Baborak, Ondrej Vrabek, Stanislav Suchanek and Zdenek Divoky and the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, who gave two performances of the work in the Dvorak Hall, Prague, in February and March 2002. In March 2003, the work was recorded for Czech Radio, and was broadcast in 2004. Andrew returned to Prague in October 2005 to attend the world premiere, by the Czech Philharmonic Horns, of his 5 Dramatic Pieces for 8 Wagner Tubas.
Andrew’s most recent compositions include Sonata for Double Bass and Piano commissioned by David Daly (principal Double Bass Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra); Songs of Love for Paula Downes and David Trippett, first performed at Harvard University, USA; Introduction and Allegro for Organ for the American organist Carson P Cooman and this Sonata for Violin, Horn and Piano for the Brahms Trio Prague.
Andrew Downes’ music is published by Lynwood Music. In addition, Faber Music include his motet O Vos Omnes in a compilation of works entitled Thirty Choral Masterworks for Upper Voices.