A taste of America.......
From Lionel Richie’s foot tapping ‘All Night Long’ to the rousing John Philip Sousa march ‘Stars and Stripes Forever’, there was no doubt of the American theme presented by Birmingham Citadel Band in the opening to their proms evening. These contrasting items, complete with US Marching Band instruments, were just a taste of what was to come and the journey we were to be taken on.
The band were joined by two exceptional young musicians who took the audience by storm as they performed music beyond their years. The two soloists are sisters who attend Stafford Grammar School. National Youth String Orchestra and CBSO Youth Orchestra violinist Charlotte Howdle is 14 years old and National Children’s Orchestra violinist Olivia Howdle who is 12 Years Old. Pieces by American composers included “Banjo and Fiddle” (Kroll) and “Theme from Schindler’s List” (Williams) before they performed contrasting classical pieces in the second half.
Two further pieces from the band were among the favourites of the evening; the ever popular ‘Singing in the Rain’ inspired the audience to sing along and the story behind ‘MacArthur Park’ unfolded through the presentation collated by Malcolm Hayward, which accompanied the piece. The playing of ‘MacArthur Park’ showed the band in fine form and featured soprano cornet player Oliver Ridley.
Compere Rob Westwood-Payne brought a thought for the evening and the band helped to reflect on this by playing ‘Mid All the Traffic’; the melody to this music by Len Ballentine being a traditional American folk tune: “Shenandoah”.
The first half was brought to a close with a medley of Disney songs from the films including Mary Poppins, the Jungle Book and Snow White. This included the annual parade from the children from the church, this time dressed as the disney characters.
The band were ‘all change’ for the second half, dressed in their proms attire, ready to present the typically British music that is customary at the Last Night of the Proms. The band started with music from The Battle of Britain (“Aces High”) and then a beautiful Welsh tune: “All Through the Night”. The second half saw opportunity for lots of audience participation from the “Fantasia on British Sea Songs” to the spirited singing of “Jerusalem” and Land of Hope and Glory in Elgar’s “Pomp and Circumstance March”. Vocal soloist Stephanie Lamplough led the iconic ‘Rule Britannia’ which received rapturous applause. The band closed the evening with a signature march, ‘Under two flags’.
It was a really enjoyable evening transporting the audience to America. Where will we go next year?
Words: Lucy Lamplough
Photographs: Graham Daff