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In pictures: Boom year for Highclere Castle Battle Proms



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Battle Proms Picnic Concert at Highclere Castle, on Saturday, July 30 by DEREK ANSELL

With this Battle Prom, on the 25th anniversary of the show, what looked like the biggest crowd ever was squeezed into the large parkland. It was literally difficult to find a patch of grass for two or more people to settle down.

The show began, as always, with a display by the Napoleonic Cavalry. Trained horsemen and women demonstrated the skills used to train man and horse for battle. Next, the Red Devils, the British army parachute display team, who came floating down into the park with coloured smoke flowing from their display rig. It was all very colourful and, at times, spectacular and this section ended with a salute to the Queen on her Platinum Jubilee by the cannon firing. Then the Spitfire flew over the grounds and disappeared over the top of the castle.

Battle Proms at Highclere Castle
Battle Proms at Highclere Castle
Battle Proms at Highclere Castle
Battle Proms at Highclere Castle
Battle Proms at Highclere Castle
Battle Proms at Highclere Castle
Battle Proms at Highclere Castle
Battle Proms at Highclere Castle

The music though is, or should be, the main attraction. First heard were the Battle Prom Belles. Lizzie Deane and Abi Jay interpreted the old pop music of the 1940s as if they had been alive in that era. At any rate they did full justice to the music of Nat Cole, The Andrews Sisters and all the others.

It was then time for the New English Concert Orchestra, conducted by Douglas Coombes, who played with poise and spirit through a programme of music by Richard and Johann Strauss, Beethoven, Holst and Von Suppe. A highlight of the programme was the violin soloist Lucilla Rose Mariotti Banwell playing a spirited and sensitive solo performance of Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto third movement. She then moved seamlessly and impressively into ragtime mode to play Scott Joplin's The Entertainer. Its the first time I've heard that on a violin with a classical orchestra in full flood behind. Denise Leigh did well singing Cesar Franck's Paris Angelicus. With Adam Slough's Battle Proms Fantasia we were invited to pick out 19 snippets from other works for a prize. Nineteen? I gave up after Sugar Plum Fairy, which romped home at number five I believe.

The Battle Proms are, as always about music and spectacle. Both Tchaikovsky's 1812 and Beethoven's Battle Symphony were played sturdily by the orchestra augmented with all 193 cannons roaring. As the light faded over the silhouette of Highclere Castle, cannon smoke drifted like a heavy grey curtain across the skyline until a firework display lit the sky as the hardy audience waved union flags and sang Rule Britannia, Jerusalem and other patriotic favourites.

Battle Proms at Highclere Castle
Battle Proms at Highclere Castle
Battle Proms at Highclere Castle
Battle Proms at Highclere Castle
Battle Proms at Highclere Castle
Battle Proms at Highclere Castle
Battle Proms at Highclere Castle
Battle Proms at Highclere Castle
Battle Proms at Highclere Castle
Battle Proms at Highclere Castle
Battle Proms at Highclere Castle
Battle Proms at Highclere Castle
Battle Proms at Highclere Castle
Battle Proms at Highclere Castle
Battle Proms at Highclere Castle
Battle Proms at Highclere Castle
Battle Proms at Highclere Castle
Battle Proms at Highclere Castle
Battle Proms at Highclere Castle
Battle Proms at Highclere Castle
Battle Proms at Highclere Castle
Battle Proms at Highclere Castle
New English Concert Orchestra Ref: 30-0522L
New English Concert Orchestra Ref: 30-0522L
Battle Proms at Highclere Castle
Battle Proms at Highclere Castle
Battle Proms at Highclere Castle
Battle Proms at Highclere Castle
Announcer Pam Rhodes Ref: 30-0622D
Announcer Pam Rhodes Ref: 30-0622D
Battle Proms at Highclere Castle
Battle Proms at Highclere Castle
Soloist Lucilla Rose Mariotti Banwell Ref: 30-0922E
Soloist Lucilla Rose Mariotti Banwell Ref: 30-0922E
Battle Proms at Highclere Castle
Battle Proms at Highclere Castle

The Battle Proms play host to open-air summer concerts in Oxfordshire, Lincolnshire, Hertfordshire and Hampshire at some of England’s most prestigious venues. Established in 1997, it is the longest running picnic proms series in the UK and welcomes around 40,000 visitors every summer



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