Atmospheric Hotham Park, Bognor Regis, played host to Chichester City Band’s “Proms in the Park” exactly 24 hours after the BBC’s First Night of the Proms at the Royal Albert Hall, London.
The euphoria of a local band making live music together before a large crowd of happy picnickers was truly in the spirit of this global season of musical events and included the traditional “Last Night” fare of Land of Hope and Glory and Jerusalem etc. The audience heartily welcomed the chance of waving flags, singing and clapping in time with the Hornpipe as it got faster and faster!
Unlike the BBC’s First Night, which this year poignantly began with the French national anthem, CCB’s concert ended with God Save the Queen, which emphasised the universality of music-making across the nations. Chichester City Band’s varied programme also included our local anthem “Sussex by the Sea” as well as other lively marches, show-stoppers like My Fair Lady and popular stage and screen music such as Skyfall and Game of Thrones. Luckily, Strauss’s Thunder & Lightning Polka had zero effect on tonight’s weather!
Additional highlights of the evening were Anne Wilson’s flugelhorn solo – a softly beautiful rendition of The Wind beneath my Wings (for which the crowd fell silent in awe) and also local soprano Sylvia Rota’s account of Puccini’s O Mio Babbino Caro (otherwise known as O My Beloved Father) Both items were sensitively accompanied by the band. Sylvia also featured as soloist in the traditional finale, soaring above band and crowd alike. Conductor and MC Tim Cooper indeed referred to her as the Bognor Nightingale – additionally swallows were spotted high in the heavens on this balmy summer night, and an owl glided silently by as we made our way back to the car park….
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