Saturday 23rd June was the date for the third and final concert of the “Little Missenden Little Proms”. The Band had been asked to step in at short notice after the initial plans for the evening hadn’t worked out, and it was held in the gardens of Little Missenden Manor House near Amersham. On a warm summer evening it would have been a beautiful location for a concert, but once again in this soggy June the occasion was blighted by rain. The rain started during the pre-concert rehearsal, it rained before the concert, it rained during the concert, and continued to pour as everyone went home afterwards. Undaunted, the band squeezed onto the small stage sheltered by a barely adequate canvas roof with some holes, which from time to time dumped water onto some of the clarinet players. Then as the evening progressed the roof began to bulge and sag under the weight of a pool of water growing ever larger, but despite the gleeful anticipation of the trumpet section it held, and the saxophones were spared a drenching.
Amazingly, by the time the concert was due to start a sizeable audience had gathered, sheltering under a sea of umbrellas, while some well organised people put up gazebos. They were obviously determined to enjoy themselves, and enjoy it they did, especially the traditional “Proms” finale, Jerusalem, Henry Wood’s Sea Songs with Rule Britannia, and Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance March no. 1 including Land of Hope and Glory. The Band were joined in this by mezzo soprano Christine Rice, a professional singer who is more usually to be found at the Royal Opera House, English National Opera, or Glyndebourne, or even at the real Proms in the Albert Hall! On this occasion she wisely eschewed the glamorous frock and instead wore jeans and a coat, not that this affected her glorious singing in any way.
But thanks to 12 year old Marnie Shutter, here is an account of the concert and the music from the audience’s point of view…
The Little Missenden Proms started with a light shower, which progressed into a full torrent of rain. However, despite the fact that the rain leaked through the top of the stage cover (and that most of the woodwind section spent the evening dodging the leaks) the concert still progressed. With great flourish, Claire Lawrence welcomed the audience and the band began to play a classic â and given the rain very appropriate â English piece by Philip Sparke, Yorkshire Overture. That warmed the audience up and got the night off to a great start. The band continued with many more glorious pieces in their first set. Highlights of the first set were a Beatles Medley, and Greensleeves with every section in top form! (My personal highlights of the night included Claireâs outstanding piccolo solo in the Beatles medley and the beef-burgers!)
The Second set began, with the cold June weather forcing all the audience and a few band members to wrap up warm. Stephensonâs Rocket by Nigel Hess was warmly applauded, as was Nimrod and the James Bond medley. However, it was The Dambusters which really got the audience clapping wildly! The soloist of the night, mezzo soprano Christine Rice was welcomed on stage. With a brilliant start, Jerusalem was played to begin the Grand Finale! Her voice with the band was a classy combination. Afterwards, Land Of Hope And Glory was played, followed by the National Anthem. Christineâs wonderful voice captivated the audience, a lot of flags were waved, and then to finish this already amazing night off, a grand display of fireworks were set off, producing a spectacular show.
Overall, the Little Missenden Proms proved a brilliant night and a perfect way to finish the Queenâs Diamond Jubilee.