“Du Du… Du Du… Duuuuuuuuuu Du Du…” - The iconic percussion introduction to the 20th Century Fox Fanfare as Birmingham Citadel Band opened their annual A Night at the Proms concert with a first half of music from the cinema – “Lights! Camera! Action!”
The band went straight into Let’s Face the Music and Dance from the musical comedy Follow the Fleet which starred Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. I don’t think everyone in the packed hall was around in 1936 when the film released, some were, but this iconic track is recognised by both young and old, and was a great, foot tapping start to the evening.
The superhero Batman is much loved through all generations after his many depictions in film. We were treated on the big screen to excerpts from the Adam West TV series, through to the films starring many of Hollywood’s biggest stars: Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer, George Clooney and Christian Bale. All the while, the band played the Danny Elfman theme music from the 1989 Batman film.
The evening was exceptionally compèred by saxophonist Malcom Corden who recently joined an ensemble of peers and the band in recording a new CD called “Salvation Saxophone” which on the evening was released as a world exclusive and is now available to buy through Bandsman Paul Meredith (hint hint!). Malcolm serenaded the congregation with the solo So Glad! which has been widely used through Salvation Army banding with the flugel horn.
Malcolm then introduced the Grammy winning song Happy! from animation Despicable Me 2 and straight into The Greatest Storyteller which covered several cinema classics: Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Willa Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, and Matilda.
The band led a poignant time in the first half with the Hymn to the Fallen from the 1998 WWII epic Saving Private Ryan. Video clips were shown of the mass military cemeteries in Europe which commemorate our fallen heroes, whilst the band played one of prolific movie composer John Williams’ most emotional soundtracks.
The first half concluded with a host of favourites from The Sound of Music where the audience eagerly joined in with the lyrics. Songs such as Maria, My Favourite Things and Do-Re- Mi were enthusiastically assisted by the youngest generation of the corps who had dressed up as the much-loved characters (but obviously not the Nazis) and came onto the stage to wave to the crowd.
The second half started with an upgrade in wardrobe for the band and the classic march Death or Glory by R.B. Hall as the congregation returned to their seats. The band then went into the well-known songs from My Fair Lady. This was enjoyed by the whole congregation but none more so than my Dad, 1st Baritone in the Band, as this Audrey Hepburn classic is one of his all-time favourites.
Malcolm then concluded his musical contribution to the evening with the light-hearted Polka where using his witty charm he essentially turned it into a breathing exercise for the whole congregation - he really is in a league of his own!
Now was time for the iconic Proms finale starting with the melody Fantasia on British Sea Songs including a mid-section encore of the Sailor’s Hornpipe where the crowd enjoyed clapping to the tune whilst trying to keep up with the ever-increasing tempo. Land of Hope and Glory was the next song for fervent flag waving with Pump and Circumstance March No 1.
Home favourite soprano Stephanie Lamplough then joined the band for an all-round epic rendition of Rule Britannia as crowd patriotism rose to the next level. England were an embarrassment in the Ashes cricket tour in Australia this winter but thankfully this didn’t hold back the congregation’s enjoyment and rapturous applause that followed both Jerusalem and the National Anthem.
The Salvation Army march Under Two Flags was the finale as the Birmingham Citadel Band and Union Jack flags were marched into the hall and joined together to conclude yet another fantastic evening.
'The Sound of Music'