This year’s Great British Prom is set to be a particularly memorable one as it celebrates 100 years of the RAF, with local servicemen, military memorabilia and a very gifted Military Wives Choir.
The scene is set and with the National Symphony Orchestra leading the musical programme of well-known RAF inspired music, Blickling will be saluting all that is best about our great Royal Air Force.
The RAF is the oldest independent air force in the world and has a long-standing association with Norfolk. A vital part was played by the RAF and their support establishments during WWII and Norfolk’s serving men and women operated one of the most important front lines of defence. Today, Norfolk’s biggest base at Marham in West Norfolk is one of the RAF’s largest and busiest, operating Squadrons of Tornado GR4 aircraft in the attack and reconnaissance roles as well as other key RAF units. Active servicemen and women from the base will be participating in the evening which will include a poignant parade and Sunset Ceremony as well as a reading of the poem, “High Flight”, one of the world’s most famous aviation poems.
RAF Marham Station Commander, Group Captain Ian Townsend said: “We’re delighted to be participating in the Great British Prom 2018; it should be a fantastic evening and we’re all really looking forward to it. This year, there are many celebrations taking place around the country to mark the 100 year anniversary of the RAF and the Proms evening at Blickling will be a very fitting tribute.”
There will be an RAF marquee onsite for the evening where concert-goers can meet military personnel and see military equipment up close. RAF Marham will be bringing information on the history of the base as well as RAF safety and survival equipment, an ejector seat, flying kit and a life raft. There will also be archive video footage of Blickling and retired servicemen and an opportunity to buy the RAF 100 cookbook.
There will also be a selection of privately owned old military vehicles attending from the Norfolk Military Vehicle Group (who restore and exhibit all ages and types of military vehicles), including a 1945 RAF Hillman Minx Staff Car which was based at Mildenhall, a 1937 RAF Morris 10/4 Staff Car, a 1946 RAF Humber Hawk Staff Car, and a 1943 RAF Jeep with B100 markings, which are associated with Blickling.
To add a further poignant act to the evening’s proceedings, the Cranwell Military Wives Choir, formed in 2012 and joined for the occasion by some ladies from RAF Marham, will be performing a piece composed by their musical director called “We Will Remember Them”.
The choir currently has 30 members and they welcome anyone with a military connection. Their ethos is to sing, share and support. Many of their husbands are serving away from home, so by having the choir network, they have constant support and friendships from ladies who understand.
Organiser Lisa Ward said: “It’s fantastic to have such a contribution from the military and we’re honoured to have serving personnel here for the evening with their wives and families. There is such a tremendous respect for all of our armed forces and we’re very happy to be able to pay tribute through the Great British Prom, highlighting the spirit and support for our service men and women; I think it’s going to be a very emotional evening with some fantastic music. As well as having the flight by the Rolls Royce Spitfire, we will shortly have more exciting news about additional involvement – it just keeps getting better!”
The musical programme for the evening will be a fantastic celebration of “those magnificent men in their flying machines” and will include, William Walton’s “Spitfire Prelude and Fugue” and Eric Coates’s “Dambusters March”. The National Symphony Orchestra, whose international reputation for excellence puts them in the top 4 orchestras in the UK, will be conducted by world-renowned Anthony Inglis, who himself has very strong links with the RAF. His father was a night fighter pilot during WW2; his uncle a Battle of Britain pilot and played himself in the David Niven/Leslie Howard film “The First of The Few.” Anthony’s maternal grandfather was the Head of RAF Intelligence during WW2, his paternal grandfather flew first with the Army, then the RFC, then was one of the first pilots in the RAF. Now, Anthony’s son, Flt Off Dominic Howard-Williams, continues the tradition as a pilot at RAF Shawbury.
The evening will also be packed with performances of Proms favourites, including “Rule Britannia”, “Land of Hope & Glory” and British anthem “Jerusalem”, closing with a spectacular firework display over the lake choreographed to the music.
As well as having FREE parking (for both coaches and cars), guests can bring their picnics and champagne, wave their flags, sing along and soak up the atmosphere with friends in the outstanding Blickling park setting. Once again there will be a magnum of champagne on offer for the best fancy dress costume!
For full event details and tickets (£37.50) visit www.greatbritishprom.co.uk or call the event box office on 01283 841601.
Revival Productions is led by Lisa Ward and Katharine Brindley, long-standing friends and business associates. They have considerable experience of putting on classical music events at stately homes up and down the country. Revival Productions’ first open-air classical concert, “Last Night of the Blickling Proms,” was held in August 2012 and has continued annually since, attracting crowds of over 5,000 each year.
In August 2016, they held “Classic Ibiza”, also at Blickling Hall in Norfolk, with Urban Soul Orchestra and Goldierocks. Due to the success of the concert, “Classic Ibiza” is now also being rolled out at Capesthorne Hall in Cheshire, Ragley Hall in Warwickshire, Harewood House in Yorkshire, Bowood House in Wiltshire and Hatfield House in Hertfordshire in 2018.
The National Symphony Orchestra (NSO) is one of the longest established (1940s) and most versatile professional orchestras working in Great Britain today. It has a firmly established national and international reputation, successfully performing and recording for audiences in a dynamic range of genres: Classical, Film and TV scores, West End and Broadway Musicals and accompanying celebrated international singers.
Anthony Inglis, one of the busiest international conductors, will conduct the orchestra. He is Music Director of the National Symphony Orchestra, Music Director for the Welsh mezzo-soprano Katherine Jenkins and Music Supervisor/Consultant to Phantom of the Opera in London. In over 200 conducting performances, it is reckoned there is no featured artist who has appeared more often at London’s Royal Albert Hall than Anthony Inglis.