Birmingham Symphonic Winds
RSC Swan Theatre
Sunday 24 May 2015, 3.00pm

Keith Allen: conductor
Matthew George & Tim Reynish: guest conductors
Linda Merrick: clarinet

In celebration of Guy’s lifetime of music-making, Birmingham Symphonic Winds will perform all 14 of Guy’s pieces for wind band in the presence of the composer on Sunday 24th May 2015 in the RSC Swan Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon at 3.00pm. The concert, which is being recorded for YouTube and will be a Guinness World Record attempt, also features Linda Merrick, Principal of the Royal Northern College of Music performing solo clarinet in Rondo Variations. The concert will raise funds for the Alzheimer’s Society.

Alzheimer's Society


Tickets are on sale and available from:
Royal Shakespeare Company Box Office
Telephone: 0844 800 1110
Prices £10 – £35

Proceeds to the Alzheimer’s Society


Flourish for Shakespeare (2002)
Divertimento for Band (2007)
Claremont Canzona (2006)
Bohemian Dances (2005)
Firedance (2002)
Celebration (2002)
Rondo Variations (1998)
French Impressions (1998)

Birthday Treat (1998)
Curtain Call (1997)
Mockbeggar Variations (1991)
S.P.Q.R. (1988)
Illyrian Dances (1986)
Deo Gracias (1985)
Gallimaufry (1983)

Media Contact: For further media enquiries or interview requests, please contact Jayne Allen 01295 788499 / 07773 344131


Guy Woolfenden OBE, MA (Cantab), FBSM, Hon LCM, LGSM

Guy Woolfenden

Guy Woolfenden

British composer Guy Woolfenden OBE was Head of Music at the Royal Shakespeare Company for 37 years, working with some of the company’s finest actors and directors. He wrote over 150 scores for numerous RSC productions and adapted some of this music for performance in the concert hall. Guy Woolfenden’s wind band scores are widely recognised as appealing and memorable to conductors, players and audiences alike. With his imaginative orchestration and the wit and pathos of the magical Shakespearean influences, Guy’s music is enormously popular all over the world and, once heard, lives within us forever.

Guy Woolfenden has composed more than 150 scores for the Royal Shakespeare Company, where he was Head of Music for 37 years. He has also written music for film, radio, television and for the concert hall, and has composed three musicals and a children’s opera. His musical version of The Comedy of Errors, written with Trevor Nunn for the RSC, won the lvor Novello and Society of West End Theatre Awards for the best British musical.

Guy completed the Shakespeare canon with his score for the 1991 production of Two Gentlemen of Verona and has now written music for every Shakespeare play in productions with the Royal Shakespeare Company. Among highlights of his long and productive career with the RSC are scores for Peter Hall’s legendary history cycle The Wars of the Roses, Trevor Nunn’s 1972 Roman season, the award winning musical version of The Comedy of Errors and Nunn’s productions of Henry IV, Parts 1 and 2, which opened the Barbican Theatre in 1982. With Terry Hands, Guy collaborated on celebrated productions of Henry V, Merry Wives of Windsor and the complete History cycle. Other notable productions for which Guy wrote the music include Hamlet starring Kenneth Branagh, directed by Adrian Noble, and Bill Alexander’s productions of Richard III and The Merchant of Venice, with Antony Sher.

Guy Woolfenden’s theatre credits also encompass a large number of non-Shakespeare productions including Greek theatre, Jacobean, Restoration, and nineteenth and early twentieth century classics. He has also composed scores for many contemporary plays.

Outside the RSC, Guy has written music for Terry Hands’ productions at the ComedieFrançaise, Paris, (Richard III, Pericles, La Nuit des Rois and Le Cid), for the Teatro Stabile, Genoa (Donne attente alle donne), for Den National Scene in Bergen, Norway, (Vikingene), and for the Norwegian National Theatre, Oslo (Lystige Koner i Windsor, Ibsen’s Kongsemnerne for the lnternational Ibsen Festival, and Chekov’s The Seagull).

In collaboration with choreographer André Prokovsky, he arranged and composed music for two three-act ballets commissioned by Australian Ballet, Anna Karenina and The Three Musketeers, which he has subsequently conducted in productions with The Australian Ballet, The Royal Ballet of Flanders, Hong Kong Ballet Company and Asami Maki Ballet, Tokyo. Guy conducted the acclaimed Russian première of Anna Karenina with the Kirov Ballet at the Mariinsky Theatre in St Petersburg. With André Prokovsky he also created a ballet based on La Traviata for London City Ballet and, in October 1994, The Queen of Spades for Ballet West in the USA.

As a conductor, Guy has worked with many of the major British symphony orchestras. His operatic work includes three productions with Scottish Opera and, in London, the first British productions of Nielsen’s Saul og David, Tchaikovsky’s The Maid of Orleans and Liszt’s Don Sanche. Guy conducted Verdi’s Falstaff, Simon Boccanegra and Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin with Chelsea Opera Group.

With the enormous success of his wind music, much of it based on music originally composed for the theatre, Guy has enjoyed many opportunities to conduct, coach and adjudicate ensembles all over the world. He was conductor of the Birmingham Conservatoire Wind Orchestra, which in July 2001 represented Britain at the World Association of Symphonic Bands and Ensembles Conference in Lucerne, Switzerland, playing and broadcasting concerts of British wind music. Much of his music for wind orchestra has been recorded on CD. Guy’s French Impressions, inspired by paintings of Seurat, was commissioned by the Metropolitan Wind Symphony of Boston, Massachusetts and has been commercially recorded on the Klavier label. Bohemian Dances was commissioned by the University of St Thomas, St Paul, Minneapolis and received its first performance and was recorded there in May 2005. Claremont Canzona was commissioned by Cheadle Hulme School as part of its sesquicentenary celebrations and received its first performance at the RNCM, Manchester in March 2006.

Sounds and Sweet Airs – A Shakespeare Journey, for soloists, chorus and orchestra received its first performance in October 2006, and his Divertimento for Band was given its first performance at the Conference of the World Association of Symphonic Bands and Ensembles in Killarney in July 2007. More recent works include Reflections: Serenade No 2 for wind dectet and Penumbra for solo flute.

For BBC Radio 3 Guy presented programmes about The Beggar’s Opera, Walton’s Façade, and a programme about the composer Roberto Gerhard. He chaired the popular Radio 3 music quiz Full Score for three years.

Guy Woolfenden was the first Artistic Director of the Cambridge Festival from 1986-1991, was awarded an Honorary Fellowship of Birmingham Conservatoire for his services to music in the Midlands in 1990, is an Honorary Member of the London College of Music, is a past President of the Incorporated Society of Musicians (2002-03), and is an Honorary Associate Artist of the Royal Shakespeare Company. He was chairman of the Denne Gilkes Memorial Fund from 1985-2013, a charity founded to help young musicians and actors, and he was awarded an OBE in the 2007 New Year’s Honours list for services to music.

Birmingham Symphonic Winds

Birmingham Symphonic Winds

Birmingham Symphonic Winds

Birmingham Symphonic Winds was established in 1992 by its Music Director, Keith Allen, with the aim to meet the demands of players in the area wanting to perform with a high quality wind ensemble. The 45-strong orchestra is made up of players living and working in and around Birmingham and some who travel from across the UK to participate with the ensemble.

The orchestra celebrated its 20th anniversary in November 2012, with a sell-out concert at the CBSO Centre, Birmingham where it gave the world premiere of Behold, Go Forth and Be Joyful! a new three movement suite by John Rutter. The concert was filmed for YouTube http://

In 2014, BSW was invited to become “Ensemble in Residence” at Birmingham University, forging links between BSW and the University Wind Band. BSW Music Director Keith Allen and members of BSW are mentoring student conductors and players, offering opportunities for students to rehearse with BSW and the two orchestras will be performing a joint concert at the Elgar Concert Hall, Birmingham University on Sunday 1 March.

The orchestra is held in high regard nationally, performing at venues such as 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 prides itself on its quality and variety of programming, with a strong dedication to the creation and performance of contemporary works for wind orchestra. 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 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.

BSW’s critically acclaimed New York debut took place at the prestigious Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, on 17 April 2011, receiving a standing ovation. All five of the recent BSW commissions were performed showcasing the best of contemporary British symphonic wind music.

In Easter 2014, BSW performed joint concerts in Hong Kong with the Hong Kong Youth Symphonic Band at the Kwai Tsing Theatre and a joint concert with the Macau Youth Symphonic Band at Macau University. Each performance featured a varied programme of music by British composers, together with guest saxophone soloist Hannah Marcinowicz playing Cinnamon Concerto by Martin Ellerby, in the presence of the composer.

Birmingham Symphonic Winds is delighted to be supported by Hortons’ Estate Limited.

BSW has achieved an unparalleled track record in its 22 year history, with more accolades for musical enterprise and excellence than any other wind orchestra in the UK:

  • Gold award, National Concert Band Festival (UK)
  • Gala concerts at the International Wind Festival, Royal Northern College of Music (1999 & 2004)
  • Invitation concerts to WASBE Conferences in Schladming, Austria (1997) and Killarney, Ireland (2007)
  • 1 st prize, International Wind Festival, Strasbourg, France (2000)
  • Invitation concert as the first-ever UK ensemble at Midwest Clinic, Chicago (2003)
  • Guest ensemble at opening concert of Musik Triennale Köln, Cologne Cathedral (2007)
  • BBC Radio 3 broadcast (2008) · 5 new works commissioned over 5 years (2007 – 2011)
  • Ensemble in Residence: Birmingham University (2014 – )
  • Premieres & Encores recording project (2007 + 2008)
  • Association with high profile soloists: Alison Balsom (trumpet), Juliette Bausor (flute), David Childs (euphonium), Craig Ogden (guitar), Sarah Williamson (clarinet)
  • Sell-out concert seasons at CBSO Centre, Birmingham
  • BSW has performed over 325 different pieces of music, including 18 premiere performances, in more than 25 different venues in the UK, USA and Europe.


Keith Allen

Keith Allen

Keith Allen was born and educated in London – he was awarded a scholarship to the Royal College of Music, London studying clarinet with Basil Tchaikov and piano with Bernard Roberts. He subsequently undertook post-graduate studies in Education at Birmingham University; has been awarded a Fellowship of Trinity College, London, and also holds a BA degree from Kingston University and a MMus degree from the University of West London. He played clarinet and saxophone in numerous orchestras, and has worked with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-upon-Avon. He was the Saxophone Tutor at Birmingham Conservatoire and also held various posts with Birmingham Education Department, including being the Head of Music Service for the city.

Keith Allen founded Birmingham Symphonic Winds in 1992 to meet the demand of players in the area wanting to perform with a high quality wind ensemble. Since then BSW has represented the UK at both the 1997 WASBE Conference (Schladming, Austria) and the 2007 WASBE Conference (Killarney, Ireland), and performed Gala Concerts at the 1999 RNCM International Wind Festival in Manchester, and again in 2004. In 2000, BSW gained First Prize at the 4th International Wind Band Festival in Strasbourg, France and in 2003, BSW were in Chicago, as the first UK ensemble ever to perform a concert at the prestigious Midwest Clinic. BSW were selected to perform a concert for BBC Radio 3 in 2008, and in 2011 BSW were invited to present a programme of British music by Distinguished Concerts International New York at the Lincoln Center, New York. At Easter 2014, BSW performed concerts in Hong Kong and also the University of Macau. BSW has been presenting its own concert series at the prestigious CBSO Centre, Birmingham since 1998, and is the ‘ensemble in residence’ at Birmingham University for 2014-15.

Keith Allen is an experienced conductor and adjudicator who has been working with a wide range of orchestras, choirs and youth ensembles and has conducted at many of the major concert halls in the UK. As well as being an accomplished woodwind and keyboard player, Keith Allen has always retained an active interest in vocal music and has been the Musical Director for over 40 shows.

Keith Allen has been responsible for many premiere performances by British, American and European composers (Malcolm Arnold, Benjamin Britten, David Bedford, Mark Camphouse, Nigel Clarke, Michael Daugherty, Jonathan Dove, Martin Ellerby, Kenneth Hesketh, Nigel Hess, Søren Hyldgaard, Jay Kennedy, David Maslanka, David Matthews, Mike Mower, John Rutter, Philip Sparke, Geoffrey Poole, Kit Turnbull and Guy Woolfenden) both in this country and abroad, and has worked with a number of distinguished soloists, including Katya Apekisheva (piano), Richard Baker (broadcaster), Alison Balsom (trumpet), Juliette Bausor (flute), David Childs (euphonium), Michael Collie (broadcaster), Jack Gibbons (piano), Evelyn Glennie (percussion), Hannah Marcinowicz (saxophone), Gerard McChrystal (saxophone), Philip Mead (piano), Linda Merrick (clarinet), John Nettles (actor), Craig Ogden (guitar), Simone Rebello (percussion), and Sarah Williamson (clarinet).

Keith Allen is the Music Director of Birmingham Symphonic Winds, Festival Director of ncbf (National Concert Band Festival UK). He has conducted Solihull Youth Wind Orchestra since 2004 and from 2005 – 2007 was conductor of Katabatic Winds, based at The Sage Gateshead. His busy schedule includes adjudicating across all musical genres at a numerous music festivals in the UK, plus tutoring on the annual European Youth Summer Music Course. At the end of 2001, he spent a month conducting and promoting British music in Australia and from 1999 – 2004 he was the Consultant Editor for the new Faber Music Wind Band Series. He is a regular visitor to America conducting British repertoire and in 2006 presented a lecture at the CBDNA Conference at the NorthWestern University, Illinois and in 2011, had conducting engagements in the USA with Minnesota Intercollegiate Honors Band, University of Minnesota Duluth Symphonic Wind Ensemble and Twin Ports Wind Orchestra. In October 2013 he was conductor-in- residence at the University of St Thomas and also guest conductor of Grand Symphonic Winds in St Pauls/Minneapolis, USA. He returned to the USA in December 2013 to head a ncbf Best of British Music trade stand at the Midwest Conference in Chicago. Earlier in 2015, Keith Allen was in Spain conducting British repertoire with the Banda Sinfónica Municipal de Madrid in a gala featuring international conductors.

Tim Reynish

Tim Reynish

Tim Reynish

Tim Reynish has emerged as one of the leading conductors of wind bands and wind ensembles in the world. In the past few years he has conducted many of the principal professional bands in Asia, Europe, North and South America; these include civilian bands such as Dallas Wind Symphony and Philharmonic Winds, Singapore, and leading military bands including the “President’s Own” US Marine Band, Staff Band of the Norwegian Army, Singapore Armed Forces Band, the Band of the Royal Marines, Portsmouth, and the US Coast Guard Band.

He was born in 1938, was a choirboy at Exeter Cathedral, he studied horn with Aubrey Brain and Frank Probyn, and music at Cambridge, which he followed with professional playing with Sadlers Wells Opera, Northern Sinfonia and the CBSO and teaching in the West Country. His conducting studies were with George Hurst, Sir Charles Groves and Sir Adrian Boult, Dean Dixon, and Franco Ferrara at the Accademia Musicale Chigiana in Siena, where he won the Diploma of Merit. A prize winner in the Mitropoulos International Conducting Competition in New York, he has conducted leading professional symphony orchestras throughout UK.

In 1975 he was invited to become tutor of Postgraduate Conducting at the Royal Northern College of Music. Two years later he became Head of School of Wind & Percussion. At the RNCM, he conducted a wide range of opera, symphony and chamber concerts and he developed the wind orchestra and ensemble to become one of the best in the world, commissioning works from many major composers , making commercial recordings and performing regularly in Festivals. He has given clinics, lectured, guest conducted and adjudicated in Asia, Canada, South America, Europe and USA, and he is Editor with Maecenas Music

Recent engagements include concerts in Hong Kong, Germany, Portugal and USA, and at the Trinity College and the Royal College of Music London. He has been awarded an Honorary Doctorate of the State University of the Arts, Kharkiv, Ukraine, and is Principal Guest Conductor of the Philharmonic Winds, Singapore.

Matthew J. George

Matthew George

Matthew George

Matthew J. George is Professor of Music and John Ireland Distinguished Professor, Director of Bands and Orchestra and Chair of the Department of Music at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota. Recently, he was named the 2013-14 Professor of the Year at UST. He also serves as chair, guest lecturer and conductor for the Music Education Center at Xi’an Jiaotong University in Xi’an, China. Dr. George is the artistic director and conductor of Grand Symphonic Winds. He earned his bachelor, master and doctoral degrees from Ithaca College, Southern Methodist University and the University of North Texas, respectively.

Dr. George is active as a conductor, clinician/lecturer and adjudicator which have taken him across the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Cuba, Costa Rica, continental Europe, Ireland and the UK, Australia, Japan, China, Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina, Thailand and India. Appearing as a guest conductor throughout the world, he regularly works with professional orchestras and bands, as well as festival groups of all ages. Some such groups include the Brazilian Wind Orchestra, The São Paulo State Band, Orquesta Ouro Preto, Orquesta Sinfónica de Guanajuato (Mexico), the National Youth Wind Orchestra of Great Britain, Queensland Conservatorium Wind Symphony (Australia), Birmingham Symphonic Winds (UK), the Banda de Bilbao Musika (Spain), the National Symphony Orchestra of Paraguay, the Royal Navy Band of Thailand and the Band of the People’s Liberation Army (China).

Dr. George has sat on international adjudication panels for such organizations as the National Concert Band Festival of Great Britain, The Chinese National Band Festival, The St. Patrick’s Festival in Dublin, and the Certamen de Valencia in Spain. He has also served as artistic director for several international music festivals, including “Premiering Sydney” held at the famed Sydney Opera House in Australia. George regularly leads his ensembles on several international performance tours and also to performances at major music conferences including the Midwest Clinic, MMEA, CBDNA, and MENC. Dedicated to the creation of new works, his credits of commissioned works by prolific national and international composers number over eighty.

Under his direction, the UST Symphonic Wind Ensemble has recorded some of these works on the Innova record label with three compact discs – Road to the Stars, Out of Nowhere and From All Sides and three forthcoming. A participating member in several professional scholarly organizations, he currently serves as the chair of the New Music Committee for the College Band Directors National Association (CBDNA) and has served as president of the North Central Conference of CBDNA.

Linda Merrick

Linda Merrick

Linda Merrick

Linda Merrick has established an international profile as a clarinet soloist, recording artist and clinician. Specialising in contemporary repertoire, she has commissioned more than 40 works for her instrument by British composers, including 10 concertos, 5 clarinet quintets, and a significant number of smaller scale chamber works and works with electronics.

Linda’s catalogue of over 20 solo CD recordings includes new concertos for clarinet and concert band by Gary Carpenter, Nigel Clarke, Martin Ellerby, Kit Turnbull and Guy Woolfenden (Polyphonic), Philip Sparke (Anglo Records) and Stephen McNeff (Campion), plus concertos for clarinet and orchestra by John Mcleod (Chandos), Edwin Roxburgh (NMC) and Philip Spratley (Toccata). Her chamber music output includes premiere recordings of four new clarinet quintets with the Navarra Quartet (Naxos), a new clarinet quintet by John McCabe with the Kreutzer Quartet (Guild), Wilfred Joseph’s Clarinet Quintet (Metier), Robert Crawford’s Clarinet Quintet (Metier) and chamber works by Malcolm Arnold and John Ireland (Maestro), and by Martin Ellerby (ClassicPrint).

Linda has broadcast as a solo artist for BBC Radio 3, Radio France, DRS1, Switzerland, CKWR in Canada and Arte TV in South Korea, and performed as a concerto soloist across America, Asia, Australia, Europe, South America, the UAE, and throughout the UK. She is a founder member of the contemporary ensemble ‘Sounds Positive’, with whom she has premiered over 70 works by British composers, and released 3 CDs.

Combining her performing career with work in music education, Linda is regularly invited to give masterclasses at conservatoires across the world. She currently holds the position of Principal and Professor at the Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester, UK, and is the UK representative for Howarth Clarinets.