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Find out more about the people and groups taking part in Equinox below.

Presenter: Anita Bhalla

The concert will be presented by Anita Bhalla OBE, the Chair of the mac, Midlands Arts Centre, and community arts champion. Anita trained as a teacher and worked as a Community Relations Officer in Leicester, a Community Worker with the Asian Resource Centre in Birmingham and a lecturer teaching language and employment skills to Industrial workers. In broadcasting Anita presented a local radio programme for the Asian Community in Birmingham and Channel 4’s Eastern Eye.  Anita’s awards include the CRE’s Race in the Media Award, the national Television News Award and Impact Magazine’s Windrush Award as the Broadcaster of the Year. Currently she is Chair of mac, a Trustee Director of Performances Birmingham, Chair of the Birmingham Creative Partnership Board and a Governor of the University of Central England. We are delighted that Anita was awarded an OBE in the New Year’s Honours 2009 for her services to broadcasting.

Conductor: Adrian Lucas

Adrian Lucas has been conductor of the City of Birmingham Choir since 2002. Adrian Lucas is widely respected as a conductor and has worked with orchestras including the Philharmonia, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the CBSO and the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra. An Organ Scholar at St John’s College, Cambridge under Dr George Guest, Adrian has since pursued a primary career in cathedral music, holding posts at Salisbury, Norwich, and Portsmouth before moving to the West Midlands to take up the post of Master of the Choristers at Worcester Cathedral.  Adrian has also been the Artistic Director to the Worcester Three Choirs Festival, one of the oldest music festivals in the world and dating back at least to the early 18th and probably as far as the middle 17th century. Adrian continues to perform as a solo organist and has many CDs to his name. Recitals have included a large number of Cathedral venues around England, Wales and Northern Ireland, as well as King’s College in Cambridge. At the end of 2011, Adrian left his post at the Cathedral to expand upon his freelance musical work, as well as expanding his recording business (www.acclaimproductions.co.uk) which offers a high-class service ranging from solo recitals and demonstration disks right up to full-blown orchestral concerts.


Christopher Long

The event will climax with all the choral groups and the percussion combining in the world premiere of a specially commissioned piece by Christopher Long around the theme of Equinox . In 2004 and 2005 he was Composer in Association with City of Birmingham Choir as part of the PRS/Making Music/spnm Adopt a Composer Scheme. During which time he composed “O Lord, remember” which was performed by City of Birmingham Choir and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra in Symphony Hall. In 2006 he was awarded the British Composer award in the Making Music category for the work.  More details about Chris can be found on his personal website or follow him on Twitter for insights into the Equinox experience.

John Barber

The event will start with a percussion fanfare composed by City of Birmingham Choir member John Barber. In 1994 John, then a teenager, was inspired to write his first composition, which he entered in a Carol writing competition, run by the City of Birmingham Choir, and won! This experience inspired him to continue composing. He has since written two more songs for City Choir concerts and has continued to write many more choral works for Midlands based choirs, including Enchant who he directs. Five years ago he enjoyed having one of his works played on local radio and he continues to compose and arrange as part of his profession as a piano player and teacher.

Choral Groups

Chinese Community Centre Birmingham’s Wan Cheuk Choir

The Chinese Community Centre Birmingham’s Wan Cheuk Choir has been specially formed to take part in Equinox. They will be joined for Equinox by five students from Birmingham Conservatoire. Wan Cheuk Choir was set up by a group of people whom came to Chinese Community Centre- Birmingham (CCC-B) for various reasons. Most of them were very keen to sing but having the opportunity to perform at Symphony Hall would be their first experience.  At the beginning the group were coached and supported by Josephine Herbert who is one of the Board Directors of CCC-B. The group have developed from a group of individuals to a team of confident members able to  perform in front of a large audience. The Wan Cheuk Choir members attend rehearsals on a weekly basis and the group are so committed that they have decided to carry on meeting after the concert in March. Wan Cheuk Choir members  would like to thank Martin Ellis for inviting CCC-B to take part in the Equinox project and give them the opportunity to realise that they all have the potential and  talent to participate in such a unique project.

Black Voices

Quietly and gently, informally and gradually, Black Voices was nurtured under the directorship of Carol Pemberton and Bob Ramdhanie. Since 1987, these two friends have steered Black Voices into one of the most solid performance and teaching companies, sharing a cappella, primarily from Africa but also throughout the Diaspora. From gospel to spirituals, Caribbean to African, jazz and blues, Black Voices is firmly rooted in music that energises and uplifts, challenges and educates. The company hosted and presented its own a cappella series with BBC Radio 2, has performed for radio and television in numerous countries around the world, has produced ten CDs, and has researched, produced, directed and performed in several international collaborations.

Currently, the group operates as a professional collective, researching and rehearsing with five to nine members, but maintaining its tradition of performing as a quintet. The vision of the company has strengthened over the past few years and Black Voices uses its talents in music to: Present quality performances, Offer stimulating education & singing workshops, Address critical issues through developmental programmes nationally & internationally, Encourage the development of a cappella groups worldwide, Nurture and mentor young singers, Promote and sustain singing in the oral tradition, Establish an annual vocal festival – Vocally BRUM!

Find out more about Black Voices.

Bournville Young Singers

Located in south Birmingham, Bournville Young Singers is a community youth choir whose ongoing aim is to encourage children and young people to sing, to develop their vocal skills and musical knowledge, and to participate in regular and varied concerts.

The choir is for children of all ages, and it is divided into a number of sections based on age and experience.  Most new members start in the Training Choir (minimum age 5 years), with the intention being that they then continue building on their singing skills in Main Choir, and possibly progress into Chamber Choir.  There is no no strict upper age limit for our members, although this generally is around 18/19. The music sung in each of our choirs is varied in style and origin, generally (but not strictly) secular, and designed to challenge the singers at each stage of their skill development.  We aim to give each child a Voice for Life through our ethos of education, experience and encouragement.Above all, we try to use music as the amazing tool that it is…  A gateway to self-confidence, friendship, knowledge and fun!

You can find out more about BYS on their website

City of Birmingham Choir

Equinox  is being promoted and managed by the City of Birmingham Choir. Since 1921, the City of Birmingham Choir has constantly thrilled and entertained audiences with our wide and often adventurous repertoire. Singing first in the historic Town Hall and, more recently, in the magnificent acoustics of Symphony Hall we have also enjoyed an enormously productive musical partnership with the city’s internationally famous orchestra, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. We include most of the major choral works in our repertoire plus more challenging and newer compositions.  The standard of our performances draws consistent praise from both critics and audience. Currently we are helping to develop the next generation of choral performers with Voice Factory – an enterprising scheme providing vocal training for the Choir and encouraging the participation of young people in singing. We are very proud to be one of the few independent organisations promoting and financing a full season of major choral concerts with professional symphony orchestras and soloists.

You can find out more on their website.

Echo Doliny: National Polish Folk Choir of Great Britain

The National Polish Folk Choir of Great Britain gave its first performance in 2009 as part of the Polish Folklore Festival at Symphony Hall, Birmingham. Its initial remit was to bring people together from folk ensembles across the country to sing the opening and closing songs of the festival. After much demand, the choir, with its new name Echo Doliny (meaning echo of the valley), was re-formed in January 2011. Based in Birmingham and conducted by Urszula Weber, the 60-strong choir specialises in choral arrangements of traditional Polish folksongs. Echo Doliny welcomes anyone, young or old, Polish or not, who has a love of singing! In February the choir took part in the triannual Polish Folklore Festival at the Corn Exchange in Cambridge. Also performing at Equinox will be Dolinki (little valleys), a female vocal ensemble made up of members of Echo Doliny.

Sanchita Pal Ensemble

The Sanchita Pal Ensemble has been specially formed to take part in Equinox. More information about Sanchita Pal herself can be found on her personal website.


SHAAM came together in late 1997 seeking to present and re-interpret traditional Islamic songs known as nasheeds. These spiritually uplifting songs seek to praise Allah and His final Messenger. They are distinguished by their emphasis upon vocals and percussion only, with stringed and wind instruments being shunned in deference to orthodox Islamic precepts. It is this style of song that SHAAM have mastered over the past few years. The group, composed of Haroon Bashir, Mahmood Norris, Yasin Alamand Imran Bashir – all young men from Birmingham, took their name from the place that had inspired them: Syria (in Arabic, Shaam). All had at some stage or another studied and visited Damascus and there had come into contact with groups who would sing timeless nasheeds with moving lyrics, accompanied by the rousing and intricate beating of the duff, a traditional one-sided hand drum.

Presenting themselves as heirs of this unique, ancient Islamic art, SHAAMhave sought to make nasheeds accessible to young and old, and, mindful of the fact that the majority of their audiences do not understand Arabic, have added Urdu and English nasheeds to their large repertoire of songs. Their stirring renditions, coupled with exquisite drumming, have led to invitations to perform in countries as far afield as the USA, Syria and Pakistan. It is no exaggeration to say hundreds of thousands have witnessed the mastery of SHAAM live and the group considers itself fortunate to count the likes of Prince Charles amongst its many admirers.

You can find out more about SHAAM on their website

Town Hall Gospel Choir

Town Hall Gospel Choir was formed in 2007 when THSH set out to recruit a group of singers from Birmingham’s gospel communities to form a choir to participate in the newly refurbished Town Hall’s re-opening concert. Initially recruited and trained by Black Voices, the choir has grown to almost 40 members and is now under the directorship of Colin Anderson.

World Music Youth Choir

World Music Youth Choir is a new choir with young people between the ages of 6 and 16. It is a non-auditioned choir, based at Grosvenor Studios in Handsworth., Birmingham. The choir, formed by Black Voices, grew out of and is a continuation of its work with Sing Up over the last 3 years.  With this new choir, Black Voices and a range of tutors in world music, work to bring out and enhance the musical skills of the young people and prepare them for performance. WMYC enjoy a range of activities that help to bring out their best, exposing them to a broad range of musical styles, building and expanding their appreciation of music.  Equinox is the first major project for WMYC and an opportunity for the young people to perform at Birmingham’s most prestigious venue, Symphony Hall.

Percussion Groups

Birmingham Schools’ Azaad Dhol Group

Birmingham Schools’ Azaad Dhol Group is directed by Harjit Singh and caters for Intermediate to Advanced level players of Dhol, Bhangra and Folk music. The instruments played in the group are dhol, tabla, dholak, harmonium, tumbi, chimta and bhangra. They have performed locally and nationally all over the UK; also they have appeared on Howard Goodall’s music series on Channel 4 and took part in the successful Guiness World Record attempt in May 2009 when 632 dhol drummers played together. The group seeks musicians in the age range of 10yrs to 18yrs – girls and boys – with some experience in one of the above instruments or dance.

Birmingham Schools’ Percussion Ensemble

Birmingham Schools’ Percussion Ensemble is directed by Victoria Lee.  Members have the opportunity to play specialised repertoire, enabling them to learn extended techniques on a wide variety of instruments, including marimba, vibraphone, orchestral and ethnic percussion. The ensemble gives several public performances each year and entry level is approximately Grade 4.

Fieshah Amlak Drummers

Fieshah Amlak aims to promote, develop and sustain ideas and initiatives to advance African and Caribbean Music (Drumming & Percussion) through the use of workshops, discussions, demonstration, performances in both the formal education and community networks. The group was formed in 2008 and perform in their local community at social, cermonial and cultural events, most recently when they opened at the launch of the Black History month celebrations at the Drum Arts Centre in September 2011 and the conference and Black History Month (BHM) Celebration ‘Succeding in Challenging Times in November 2011 at MAC Midland Arts Centre.

Fieshah Amlak also carry out a range of educational activities through out the year and if you would like to find out about their activites please contact them on 07967 413206 or email fieshahamlak@yahoo.co.uk