September’s “Last Night of the Proms” is, for many, the highlight of the classical music year with thousands attending the Royal Albert Hall, satellite outdoor events countrywide and millions watching on television. We Brits love this annual celebration of our national pride, joining in with Jerusalem, Rule Britannia and Land of Hope and Glory, waving our Union Flags, having a great time.
On the hottest day of 2019 so far, Angmering Chorale and MD, George Jones, presented their very own version at the Angmering School. Several hundred souls turned up to hear songs drawn mainly from the British Isles, including the aforementioned iconic favourites.
Accompanied by Alison Manton (piano), over 90 singers delighted us in a first half programme of sentimental songs interspersed with some that were rather different. We heard of the delights of Home Sweet Home etc. and crossed the Irish Sea to savour an Irish Blessing and the Londonderry Air. Childhood memories were recalled as we visited Old McDonald’s Farm and enjoyed Two for the price of one, a clever blend of Michael Finnegan and This old man by Andrew Carter. We were also treated to a Swingle style pot-pourri of classical themes. George asked how many we had counted – someone heard 22 but Hurdwell managed only 11!
We all like to be beside the seaside and some relish a Tequila Samba too!
Then followed two soprano solos from guest, Emily Williams, who has achieved great success in the Arun Young Musician competition. Her pure sound and diction shone through in Now Sleeps the Crimson Petal, based upon Tennyson’s poem, and Think of Me from Phantom of the Opera.
And so to the second half where we were told audience participation was MANDATORY – as if we needed an invitation!
I was glad (very!) that they opened with Parry’s spectacular Coronation chorus which was superbly sung and worked well even though (sadly) without the usual brass fanfares. Then followed a selection from Henry Wood’s Fantasia on British Sea Songs. The audience joined in lustily with Parry’s Jerusalem before we left England’s green and pleasant land for a whistle-stop tour around the British Isles. Although billed as Ar hyd y nos and conducted by one with a Welsh-sounding surname, neither really applied and we actually heard All through the night! We then took the Road to the Isles and revisited Ireland with another version of Danny Boy.
As instructed, the audience participated, enthusiastically, in Rule Britannia and Land of Hope and Glory before Emily Williams returned to lead us in We’ll meet again which many of us surely will do, in November, when the Chorale performs Mendelssohn’s Elijah in Arundel Cathedral.
Our splendid evening’s entertainment concluded with another singalong, The Beatles in Review, which embraced many of the songs for which the Fab Four will forever be remembered.
Congratulations to everyone including all the individual soloists from the Chorale and John Woodward who also played bass guitar.