South West

Philharmonia & Chorus

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    Last Night of The Proms Review

    Last Night of the Proms – Plymouth Guildhall

    It was such a delight to be met with a full house, buzzing with excitement at Plymouth Guildhall, as we arrived for the “Last Night of the Proms”.
    Over a hundred excited and smart local singers and instrumentalists of all ages and abilities from the South West Philharmonia and Chorus, were packed tightly onto the stage with centimetres to spare.
    The audience was a lively and varied mix of couples and families from all walks of life. Immediately you could see that this event had been successfully marketed as a broadly accessible and inclusive evening.
    To open the concert, the Chorus lifted the roof of the Guildhall with a confident and well-rehearsed rendition of Zadok the Priest from Handel’s Messiah. The power and excitement of the very first sung chord assured us of a strong performance of this familiar piece.

    The evening progressed smoothly with a well-balanced variety of British music, arrangements of familiar movie themes from James Cameron, John Williams, Leonard Bernstein and wartime songs made famous by Dame Vera Lyn. Cornish soprano Anne Sutcliffe gave a clear and tuneful performance in her first outing in a lead role; we hope to see her perform again in the future.

    The programme wasn’t over reliant on familiar classics though; Plymouth was host to a UK Premiere of American composer Dan Forrest’s new choral setting of “How Great Thou Art”, an uplifting and beautifully performed modern arrangement which the listening audience rewarded with exceptional applause.

    The second half (with full costume change) brought all the fun and singing of the traditional Proms experience. Hooters honking in the variety of traditional sea songs, kazooing in unison throughout the Dambusters Theme, and rousing communal singing and flag-waving in the traditional Rule Britannia, Jerusalem, and Pomp and Circumstance March.

    Musical Director Marcus Alleyne owned the stage with his vivacious style, and he communicated his fun and warmth to the audience with wit and energy.

    The evening was stitched together by the BBC’s David Fitzgerald, a seasoned hand at presenting local events in the area, who hosted with good humour, and relatable Plymothian anecdotes.

    This was an ideal opportunity to introduce orchestral and choral music to young people – many of whom enjoyed the communal frolics in the second half. I wonder if next time, we can venture outside on a summer’s evening, and bring this wonderful atmosphere and family-friendly traditional celebration to the Hoe?


    Kind regards,

    Neil Walker
    Drivetime Presenter & Station Support
    Radio Plymouth

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