The BPO recently received a selection of new/old concert programmes dating from 1953 to 1976. Some of these programmes were already available in the BPO’s Digital Archives, but quite a number of these ‘new’ old programmes have provided a fantastic insight into the BPO during its early years.
Given BPO’s wartime charitable activities in the 1940s, it is perhaps not too surprising that the orchestra was selected to take part in the first Midlands Festival of Remembrance on 11th November 1953 and continued to take part in every festivals up to the 14th Festival in 1966. There are some notable aspects of the festivals that can be seen in these programmes, such as:
- Personal messages from Winston Churchill (1954), Anthony Eden (1956), the Lord Mayor of Birmingham (1954, 1956 and 1958), the Bishop of Birmingham (1956) and the Commandant General of the Royal Marines (1956)
- The first half of the 1956 festival was televised on ABC Television
- The presence of the Band of the Royal Marines in 1954 and 1956
- The first performance of the march entitled “The Terriers” which was specially commissioned for the 1958 festival in honour of the Golden Jubilee of the Territorial Army. This march was written by Michael Colston who was the assistant/deputy conductor of the BPO in the 1950s and was also a clarinetist in the orchestra.
- Advertisements throughout the programmes which were representative of 1950s
Other concerts of note in this ‘new’ set of programmes included:
- Special Popular Concert on 9th June 1953 – this concert had a similar style and content to the Festivals of Remembrance, was part of the City of Birmingham Coronation Festival of Music, and included three first performances of new works.
- A concert in the memory of Eric Coates on 11th May 1958 – all works performed were written by Eric Coates, a favourite composer of the BPO during the Music for All concerts from the 1940s and 1950s
- A Grand Concert for the Birmingham Accident Hospital Association on 17th January 1960 – this programme includes a description of the early days of the BPO on page 9
- Four complete performances of Prince Igor in 1966
- 25th Anniversary Concert on 26th February 1967
The BPO Digital Archive has now been updated to include the information from these programmes and also records all of the BPO’s performances to the end of 2021. The Digital Archives can be accessed via these links:
We are always looking to include more archive information into our database. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any additional ‘new’ old programmes or other archive materials.