“The BPO gave its first concert as the South Birmingham Orchestra in November 1941 to raise money for war charities. A group of musicians got together to perform Handel’s Messiah, with the nationally celebrated Robert Easton as the bass soloist.
A bit later, two concerts in 1943 at the Danilo Cinema in Quinton raised £1,500 for prisoner of war charities. That’s about £45,000 in today’s terms!
In its 75 years there have been five Musical Directors – Ernest Powell, David Ludlow, Kenneth Page, Robin Page and Michael Lloyd. There have been many other conductors at various times – in recent years, Michael Seal and Richard Laing have been regular guest conductors.
To my knowledge we have only had three patrons – Sir Adrian Boult, Sir Malcolm Arnold and Peter Donahue. A conductor, a composer and a performer. Sir Adrian Boult used to write to Kenneth Page offering advice on how to conduct various pieces which the orchestra was about to perform.
In recent years we have had critical appreciation from CBSO members such as Eduardo Vassalo, Peter Thomas and Paul Smith.
Many thanks to Tim Stidwill for all his work on the orchestra’s archives, which can be viewed on our website – follow the links above to extracts from our history.”