Sunday 30th August dawned grey and overcast with occasional showers, and more forecast for the evening – this didn’t bode well for the Vale Park Proms in Aylesbury that evening. The show must go on as there are always some people willing to sit under their umbrellas and cheer the Band, but it’s much more satisfying to play to a decent sized audience. However the rain had moved away by the time we were setting up, and much to my surprise by the time the concert was due to begin at least 500 people, possibly more, had arrived, despite it being cool and cloudy.
The Band was conducted by Robert Wicks, and we were delighted to welcome back two talented soloists, soprano Alison Langer and tenor Lawrence Thackeray, not to mention Carl Quaif, who ably assisted Robert by acting as compère. There was no single theme to this year’s concert, but among pieces simply to entertain there were others to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the end of World War Ⅱ, and another to mark the Queen becoming the longest reigning monarch in British History on 9th September. And of course the concert had to conclude with the usual “last night of the Proms” finale.
You can read the complete programme here, but these are some of the highlights. After the National Anthem, the concert opened with Trailblaze by Goff Richards. In complete contrast Looney Tunes which followed celebrated the music from popular cartoons. Alison Langer and Lawrence Thackeray then sang two numbers from Porgy and Bess by George Gershwin, Summertime and Bess, You is my Woman Now. After this in tribute to the Queen’s long reign the Band played Elizabeth of England by Haydn Wood. The first half ended in anticipation of the release of Star Wars: Episode Ⅶ – The Force Awakens with a performance of music from the original Star Wars film by John Williams.
During the interval the audience were entertained by The LuLaLas; unfortunately at this point it started to rain a little, but undeterred the audience enthusiastically welcomed the return of the Band as part 2 opened with The Dambusters. During this some children (and others not so young!) ran around in front of the stage pretending to be aircraft. On a more sombre note, this was followed by the theme from the 1993 film Schindler’s List, arranged as a clarinet solo, and ably played by principal clarinet Julie-Marie James. The Second World War theme continued with The War Years, an arrangement of two songs of the time Run Rabbit Run and The White Cliffs of Dover, in which the Band was joined by Alison Langer and James Thackeray. Then the trumpet section were the stars in Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy.
The last two pieces before the finale were the last part of El Camino Real by Alfred Reed, and The Lord of the Dance. Then it was time for the audience to join in and sing, as the soloists and the Band joined in playing Jerusalem, Sea Songs (including, of course, the Sailor’s Hornpipe and Rule Britannia), and Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1, also known as Land of Hope and Glory.
Finally the Mayor of Aylesbury, Cllr Allison Harrison, came on stage to thank everyone who took part, and the organisers of all the events of the weekend. She thanked everyone who came to enjoy the events and contribute to raising money for this year’s Mayor’s Charity, Community Unity Projects. The evening ended with a grand fireworks display which delighted the crowd, though one wonders how popular it was with people living near the park!