Over the past five months, BCMG has been working with ensembles across the city to connect them with composers for the Flourish! Project, as part of the Birmingham 2022 Festival, celebrating the Commonwealth Games coming to Birmingham. Becky Woodcock, Project Manager shares her experience.

Watch the performances

Flourish! reimagines the fanfare, an integral part of sporting ceremonies, for the 21st Century and brings together communities through the medium of music. Each composer worked with their ensemble to create fanfares inspired by and celebrating the Commonwealth - its nations, individuals, and values of diversity and tolerance.

From Yoruban creation myths of Nigeria, to Bangladeshi folk melodies, through to re-imaginings of traditional Jamaican songs and the Maltese Spiritu Pront style, it was brilliant to explore such a range of music and hear it re-imagined for Birmingham ensembles.

Each composer visited their ensemble over a number of sessions to learn about the ensemble, and what composition might work best musically for the instrumentation and ability of the group. They also had discussions about what themes they would like the piece to explore. For some ensembles, the piece was composed entirely by the composer and presented to the ensemble, whilst other groups co-composed, so it’s been fantastic to see the range of different composition techniques brought together through the project.

Flourish! Highlights

There were so many highlights throughout this project, and hearing the live premieres of each of the compositions was a real delight, but here are some extra special moments from throughout the project!

For a special Flourish! edition of Creative Composing Lab, with the help of Commonwealth Resounds, we were able to connect with international composers who joined the workshop virtually and created their own fanfare. We had young composers join us from Malta, Singapore, Uganda and India! Their pieces were performed by BCMG musicians on tabla, double bass, oboe, and trumpet so it was a real joy to be able to have the international young composers watch the live performance of their pieces in Birmingham via Zoom!

Thank you for the opportunity to participate in this event. It was an indescribable feeling, hearing the professional musicians playing my music. It was an amazing experience, learning from the other composers, which I will remember for a long time.” - International Young Composer who took part in the Flourish! Creative Composing Lab

In a true reimagining of a fanfare for the 21st century, we were delighted to be part of the event to celebrate the opening of Pride House, with a performance of A Flourish of Rainbows - a composition written by Florence Anna Maunders for Birmingham Gay Symphony Orchestra. Pride House are providing a safe and welcoming, inclusive space for LGBTIQ+ supporters, athletes, staff, volunteers, and organisations at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games. With 35 countries throughout the Commonwealth still criminalising homosexuality, it felt important to be working with BGSO, Florence, and Pride House to celebrate the LGBTIQ+ community throughout Commonwealth, as part of the Flourish! project.




We had two fantastic nights at Symphony Hall as part of the Services for Education Music Service Youth Proms, where audiences of 1,600 got together to watch Flourish! performances across the two nights. We had the pleasure of working with Birmingham Schools’ Brass Band, Birmingham Schools’ Raga and Tala and Birmingham Schools’ Steel Band. It was brilliant to see the young people get so excited about getting a piece commissioned especially for their ensemble, and premiere it in such a prestigious Brummie venue! Pablo Barrios, the composer for the Steel Pan Band, even joined the ensemble on stage to play drums for their set and enjoyed the premiere of his piece from the stage!


Composer Pablo Barrios with the Birmingham Schools’ Steel Pan Band, and their Ensemble Leader Stephon Philips.

Composer Supriya Nagarajan with the Raga and Tala Ensemble and one of their Ensemble Leaders, Harjinder Matharu.

Composer Bobbie-Jane Gardner with the Birmingham Schools’ Brass Band, and their Ensemble Leader Saphran Ali.


A final takeaway from this project is the sheer joy that the ensembles have gotten from working with living composers to create relevant new works, especially for their ensemble. It has sparked an interest in exploring ways to work with more composers in the future.


Thanks for opening our eyes to the possibility of commissioned new music, this is something we could never have done without the opportunity to take part in the Flourish project. It has made us consider commissioning new pieces in the future which is a really exciting prospect.” – Moseley Misfits Ensemble Leaders 


The Notebenders are made up of people within the community who never got the opportunity to perform or have not been considered good enough, but they have pride, passion, and belief in what they do.  This project has given us the confidence and boost that will keep the Notebenders moving forward to the next level.” Notebenders Big Band Committee Member   


To read more about all of the ensembles and composers we worked with visit our Flourish! Page.