Photography by Jenni Bradbury
Established now for 18 years, Central England Ensemble has become one of the region's finest non-professional orchestras. Founded in 2001 by freelance violinist Anna Downes, the orchestra has given over 80 concerts in leading venues across the Midlands, further afield in the UK and abroad. CEE has distinct objectives which sets it apart from other orchestras; firstly, to support the work of contemporary composers living in Birmingham and its surrounding areas. By doing so, it hopes to raise the profile of composers in the region and showcase their music throughout the wider community. Secondly, to give music graduates, music students and other talented performers the opportunity to study new and exciting repertoire to a very high standard.
Since its launch in 2001, CEE has performed many exciting contemporary works by composers such as Andrew Downes, Nathan Rose, David Fanshawe, James Langley, David Bradbury, Michael Whitcroft, Gareth Jones, William Southworth, Louis Clark, Guy Woolfenden, Simon Lesley, Stephen Williams , Ivor McGregor and Simon Pratt, Tony Bridgewater, John Robson, Owen Walton and Richard Francis. As well as its commitment to contemporary music, CEE enjoys the challenge of large scale orchestra works and has given highly acclaimed performances of Elgar’s Enigma Variations, Sea Pictures, Violin Concerto and Symphony no 1, Holst’s Planets Suite, Beethoven’s Symphonies 6 and 7, Brahms Symphonies 1 and 2, Shostakovich Symphonies no 5 and 10, Vaughan Williams Symphonies no 2 and 5, and Strauss’ Der Rosenkavalier Suite, Death and Transfiguration and Four Last Songs.
In addition, CEE has accompanied various choirs such as Birmingham Festival Choral Society, run workshops with West Mercia Probation Services, Education Projects at Symphony Hall and staged its own Concerto and Composers’ Competitions.