History of the Feeney Commissions
The first composer commissioned was Sir Arthur Bliss, Master of the Queen's Music, who based his Meditations on a Theme by John Blow on a fine melody which he came across in a volume of Musica Britannica, sent to him by Anthony Lewis. Anthony Lewis was Professor of Music at The University of Birmingham and a member of the Committee which proposed possible composers for the Trust to approach.
Tippett's Piano Concerto
Michael Tippett's Piano Concerto, premiered in the following year, soon became established as an important work. Steven Osborne, whose 2007 recording of the Concerto has received glowing reviews, describes it as 'certainly one of the most important concertos of the second half of the 20th Century'.
Late '50s and early '60s
The late '50s and early '60s saw new symphonies from Edmund Rubbra, Lennox Berkeley, Alan Rawsthorne, Humphrey Searle, Robert Simpson and Peter Racine Fricker - an impressive list of high profile commissions, which earned the CBSO considerable kudos.
The '70s and '80s
The list of Feeney Commissions continued to grow through the '70s, receiving an extra boost when the young Simon Rattle became Music Director in 1980. In his time, both Mark-Anthony Turnage and Thomas Adès received their first major orchestral commissions from the Feeney Trust.
The Feeney Trust has continued to fund new commissions from the CBSO, and has also widened the scope of its commissioning, firstly to support other Birmingham-based musical organisations. The first of these was the commissioning of the musical score by composer John McCabe for David Bintley's two-part ballet Arthur for Birmingham Royal Ballet. The Trust has also supported commissions by Ex Cathedra, Birmingham Contemporary Music Group/The Opera Group and the CBSO Youth Orchestra. More recently the Trust has widened its scope still further and now supports new works created for public performance, exhibition or publication in Birmingham in any art form.
Future commissions are in the pipeline for performance both by the CBSO and by several other Birmingham-based arts organisations. All in all, the Feeney Trust's commissions continue to make an outstanding contribution to Birmingham and the UK's cultural life.