Plenty of hope and glory

A Night at the Proms

Lichfield Garrick

****

THE last night at the proms is one of the few freedoms we have left that are untouched by the thought police and the po-faced guardians of PC.

It is a chance to be patriotic, to sing songs that helped shape our nation and to wave our flags, Union and St George - and the good folks of Lichfield did just that with gusto, balloons, flags,  bird calls and some lusty singing.

The executive and artistic director of the Lichfield Garrick is Adrian Jackson but his proper job, as he puts it, is conducting and for the first time he brought his City Concert Orchestra to the theatre for a black tie gala night.

The members of the 48-strong orchestra are selected as much for their versatility as much as their undoubted musicianship and it showed as they ranged through show tunes, film scores, musical theatre and the classics without missing a swing or a beat. Swing to Strauss, musical to Mendelssohn at the drop of a baton.

The first half marked the 70th anniversary of the start of the Battle of Britain and was a tribute to the RAF with the theme from 633 Squadron, Battle of Britain and The RAF march ending with The Dam Busters March all introduced by the still lovely Hannah Gordon.

In between came Eric Coates' Knightsbridge March music by Vaughan Williams and Mendelssohn and a West Side Story medley by soprano Elizabeth MacDonald and tenor Victor Michael.

POWERFUL VOICE

MacDonald has a powerful voice, almost  too big for the modest Lichfield stage,and she gave us a powerful O  Mio Bambino Caro from Puccini's Gianni Schicchi and a soaring I dreamed a dream from  Les Miserables.

Michael, a young tenor, 29 this month, has a perfect voice for Neapolitan songs such as Funiculì, Funiculà, composed to commemorate the opening of the first funicular cable car on Mount Vesuvius in 1880 incidentally and, in the second half O Sole Mio and showed he is a fine tenor with the duets One Hand, One Heart and I have a love from West SIde Story.

The second half was unashamedly last night of the proms with all the old favourites Fantasia of British Sea Songs, Nimrod, Rule Britannia, Jerusalem all ending with balloons, flag waving, cheering and unbridled patriotism with Land of Hope and Glory. Great entertainment. 11-09-10

Roger Clarke 

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