A great blend of pomp, fun

18:53, Nov 05 2012

A full house of honorary Poms welcomed an honorary Royal Family to The Last night of the Proms.

There was plenty of pomp, circumstance and fun but also a lot of good music.

Conductor Christopher Luke has already made a valuable contribution to New Plymouth's music, and his direction of this concert was impressive. His efficient conducting style ensured excellent control of the New Plymouth Orchestra and Ars Nova Choir, plus Sacred Heart Tenners for the massed singing, throughout an extensive programme.

Coronation compositions including Crown Imperial and Parry's I was Glad opened a lively evening. It is regrettable that in this beautiful venue, the choir has to be so far behind the orchestra, as much of their excellent choral sound was lost. However, their unaccompanied Rutter songs were well heard, and in The British Grenadiers the male voice percussive accompaniment was very effective. The orchestra playing was brilliant, and their style always matched the mood of the music.

Compere (and on-stage jig dancer) Brian Clark introduced guest soprano Clarissa Dunn as the star of the evening. The audience immediately warmed to her beautiful stage presence, thrilling voice, and clear diction.

She was equally comfortable with Puccini opera and the lighter repertoire, and was regal in Rule Britannia.

Beethoven's Battle Symphony closed the first half with some theatre added in the form of a replica French and English Army. Towards the end of the symphony there was a short fugal section but on stage there were two extensive cannon sections.

The fun, streamers, balloons and audience singing started in the second half with Pomp and Circumstance, Jerusalem and Rule Britannia, and the audience went home feeling uplifted. An enjoyable evening without the expense of flying to the Royal Albert Hall.

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