This year’s “Proms in the Park” took place on 4th September, and was something of a special occasion, as it is 10 years since the first Aylesbury Proms concert. The event is now a popular fixture in the calendar, but in recent years it has been spoiled by poor weather. This year, however, the day was warm and dry, and though the temperature may have dropped as evening fell, it was not unpleasantly cold.
By the start time of the concert, nearly 1000 people had gathered in Vale Park, with their flags and light sticks ready to join in the finale. Conductor Neil Chapman got the concert got off to a rousing start with Sousa’s March Liberty Bell, better known to many as the theme tune for Monty Python’s Flying Circus. Then after the theme from The Great Escape, Neil introduced the first of the night’s soloists, baritone Richard Stark, who sang the well known Toreador’s Song from Carmen by Bizet.
Next 3 Mexicans came forward dressed in their sombreros and ponchos – actually the trombone section, who thrilled the audience with The Blades of Toledo by Trevor Sharpe. The thrills continued with a depiction of a ride on a Roller Coaster by Otto M. Schwarz, complete with screams!
Robert Wicks then took over the baton and conducted three movements from Pineapple Poll, a ballet with music arranged by Charles Mackerras from the Gilbert and Sullivan operas. After this soprano Jill Neenan sang The Laughing Song from Die Fledermaus by Johann Strauss. The Band then ended the first half with Fiesta by Philip Sparke.
The second half opened dramatically with Aaron Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man, which starts A Copland Tribute, a selection of his music arranged by Clare Grundman. After this, in tribute to the many British servicemen and women serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Band played the music from Band of Brothers. In complete contrast, this was followed by the second set of English Dances by Malcolm Arnold, and then Jill Neenan and Richard Stark came together to sing Somewhere Out There from American Tale. Robert Wicks returned to conduct John Williams: The Symphonic Marches, well known music from The Raiders of the Lost Ark, Star Wars, and the Olympics Theme.
Now it was time for the traditional “Proms” Finale, as the excited audience joined the Band and soloists to sing Jerusalem, and the Band played Henry Wood’s Sea Songs, ending with the audience joining Jill Neenan singing Rule Britannia. Last but not least, was Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance March no. 1 with its Land of Hope and Glory chorus. Unsurprisingly the audience wouldn’t let the Band go without encoring it.
The whole concert was a great success, and councillor Ray Ghent, who organised the occasion, received many emails and letters saying how much people had enjoyed it, and thanking him for a great evening. The Band played well, and can be proud of having entertained so many people so well. Let’s hope the weather next year will be as kind, so we can make it an even better occasion.