“A Night at the Proms” in Birmingham

The Birmingham Citadel Corps held its annual “A Night at the Proms” event on 26 January 2008. The much-anticipated, promenade-style concert was held in the corps hall. Friends chattering, acquaintances meeting up, people who had traveled far and many faithful supporters were all expecting to be both entertained by some excellent, exciting music and to be drawn into the mood of the evening in a warm and friendly Christian environment.

As the audience settled and the chattering subsided, the first notes of the evening began – the multimedia screen informing the crowd that this was Superman music. The (assisted) flight across the stage of a mini-Superman (in the person of two-year-old William Selby) assuered the audience of the quality of the ensuing entertainment.

Musical talents of every form – composing, arranging, conducting and playing – were offered to God in a moment of prayer and then Roy Richley, the genial Master of Ceremonies, began the event in earnest. Themes from many films were presented in a montage format, aided by relevant scenes from each film displayed on the screens. It was clear that people were enjoying recognizing different themes – and remembering who was their favorite actor playing James Bond!

Not all of the music was loud, exciting and strident – Neil Blesset provided a lovely, quiet interlude with the tenor horn solo Somewhere Over the Rainbow.

The special guest for the evening was Susanne Dymott (Staines Corps), who, with superb and sympathetic accompaniment from Lesley Nicholson, enraptured the audience with her singing, especially the mischievious number from Rossini’s Barber of Seville.

After the interval, refreshed after a cup of coffee or tea, and more greeting of friends, the audience was ready with flags and party poppers for more music. Some people had gone to considerable trouble with patriotic hats and costumes, and the band was in evening dress, complete with roses in their lapels. Jerusalem and Land of Hope and Glory were sung with pride and much flag-waving, and the Sea Shanty was followed, as demanded by tradition, by whistling, cheering, sobbing (!), cheering and shouting. Susanne returned, with the Union Flag draped around her shoulders, and sang Rule Britannia, with the audience joining in the chorus, standing and waving flags.

Following much more music, the band brought the evening to a fitting conclusion with Leslie Condon’s festival march Celebration. The evening was well-organized and could be considered a “must-attend” event.

Birmingham Citadel Corps web site, original report by Mavis O’Connor