Proms Night in Birmingham

The annual “Proms Night” was eagerly anticipated as a large crowd gathered at Birmingham Citadel on 18 January 2014 for an evening of music, reminiscence and celebrations. As has become the custom at this annual event, the first half had a theme and the traditional “Proms” music got underway in the second half. This year the theme was “TV Theme Tunes”. Spanning some 65 years, music was featured from many wide-ranging television series aimed at different demographics.

The festivities began with the stirring theme from “The A-Team” with its military rhythms and juxtaposed rock grooves. Bandmaster Gavin Lamplough introduced the special guests for the evening before compère Andrew Avison, who added insight and interest throughout the night, introduced the next item, a trombone solo from Deputy Bandmaster Mark Sharman. The Acrobat was the theme for the 1980s BBC show “Johnny Briggs” and the trombone solo, full of glissandi, became synonymous with the show. Next followed a collage of television themes arranged by former Birmingham Citadel Bandmaster Wesley Kendrick, entitled Carefree Days, featuring music from “Andy Pandy”, “Thunderbirds” and “Captain Pugwash”, among others.

Trumpet player Christopher Avison has achieved much success in recent years, most recently in his appointment as principal trumpet of the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra. As guest soloist, he delighted the audience with an eclectic mix of solos, each performed with bravura and panache.

In the first half, Christopher presented a reflective melody from the film Babe: Pig in the City which had been recorded for the film by his trumpet teacher, the late James Watson. He showed excellent lyricism in his interpretation before the band changed the mood with the theme from “Cagney & Lacey”.

Christopher then returned for a scintillating arrangement by Ray Farr of Live and Let Die from the Bond movie of the same name. He showed real power and genuine authenticity of style in the way that he played this high-note “lead trumpet” solo. The audience responded with prolonged applause.

The first half ended with themes from “Hawaii 5-O”, “Film Night” and a medley of themes from ten television programs as a procession of Birmingham Citadel children dressed as television characters paraded across the stage.

The second half was typically nostalgic, featuring much-loved British repertoire including RAF Marchpast, I Vow to Thee My Country (Gustav Holst, arr. Ray Steadman-Allen), Fantasia on British Sea Songs (Henry Wood), Jerusalem (C. Hubert Parry) and Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1 (Edward Elgar). The band even entertained a request to hear Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring – not a British classic, but beautiful music none the less. The audience was delighted to welcome Stephanie Lamplough, who had been in recording sessions all day, but made it just in time to sing Rule Britannia.

Christopher Avison returned for two more items. The first was the beautiful Share My Yoke, accompanied sensitively by his mother, Susan Avison, at the piano. He was then joined by Stephanie Lamplough for Let the Bright Seraphim from Handel’s oratorio Samson.

As the capacity crowd left the hall it was clear that all had enjoyed the evening.

Birmingham Citadel Band web site