No Spitfire but Hatfield House Battle Proms still goes with a bang

PUBLISHED: 12:26 16 July 2017 | UPDATED: 13:37 16 July 2017

Fireworks at the Hatfield House Battle Proms 2017 [Picture: Melissa Moss]

Fireworks at the Hatfield House Battle Proms 2017 [Picture: Melissa Moss]

Archant

Battle Proms went with a bang – lots of them in fact – at Hatfield House last night as thousands of revellers enjoyed the annual classical concert and fireworks.

This year’s picnic proms in the grounds of the Hertfordshire stately home celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Battle Proms series.

There was, as usual, a sublime programme of classical music performed by the New English Concert Orchestra, live cannon fire, Napoleonic cavalry displays and fireworks.

However, the much anticipated Spitfire air display to herald the start of the classical musical programme had to be cancelled last night due to the weather.

Following new air safety regulations, the majestic Grace Spitfire was unable to take off as a result of low cloud cover.

The Red Devils on stage for the Evening Gun Salute to herald the start of the musical programme at the Hatfield House Battle Proms 2017 [Picture: Alan Davies]The Red Devils on stage for the Evening Gun Salute to herald the start of the musical programme at the Hatfield House Battle Proms 2017 [Picture: Alan Davies]

Despite the disappointment of not seeing the famous World War Two fighter dance through the air choreographed to the music, there was still plenty to enjoy at the open-air summer proms.

In a very special addition to the event’s 20th anniversary programme, The Red Devils parachute team performed an exhilarating freefall demonstration in the skies above the Queen Elizabeth Oak Field at Hatfield House.

Members of The Parachute Regiment and British Army’s official display team thrilled the audience with their daring jumps from about 2,000ft.

The Jazz Spivs also entertained Battle Prommers with the jazz sounds of the Roaring Twenties before the main classical programme began.

The Red Devils joined the orchestra on stage for the traditional Evening Gun Salute, which this year commemorated 100 years since the Battle of Passchendaele.

Following a volley of shots from a vintage 13 pounder field gun, accompanied by piper Mark Bisset, the opening strains of Gustav Holst’s Jupiter, from The Planets, kicked off proceedings.

Under the baton of conductor Douglas Coombes MBE, the orchestra also played Franz Von Suppe’s Light Cavalry Overture and works by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and French composer Jules Massenet, the latter with violin soloist Emma Lisney, before the first half of the concert came to an explosive end with Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture.

As has become tradition, the piece was accompanied by live cannon fire and fireworks.

A panoramic view of the Hatfield House Battle Proms 2017 [Picture: Alan Davies]A panoramic view of the Hatfield House Battle Proms 2017 [Picture: Alan Davies]

This, however, was merely a taster for the Battle Proms’ signature piece – Beethoven’s Wellington Victory or the Battle Symphony – which followed after the interval.

The explosive centrepiece of the classical programme was accompanied by the thunderous percussion of 193 live cannons and mortars – just as the composer had originally intended.

The Welwyn Hatfield Times streamed the Battle Symphony live on our Facebook page, with followers reporting hearing the explosions and fireworks in Potters Bar, London Colney and Welwyn Garden City.

Soprano soloist Denise Leigh joined the orchestra for the concert’s flag-waving Last Night of the Proms finale, singing Jerusalem and Rule, Britannia!.

The Red Devils' Sgt Dean Walton after parachuting in on the Hatfield House Battle Proms 2017 [Picture: Alan Davies]The Red Devils' Sgt Dean Walton after parachuting in on the Hatfield House Battle Proms 2017 [Picture: Alan Davies]

With compere Pam Rhodes once again wearing her sparkly Union Jack outfit, the concert finished with Sir Edward Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance March No 1, aka Land of Hope and Glory, God Save the Queen and Auld Lang Syne as fireworks lit up the night sky.

Last night’s Battle Proms concert will have raised thousands of pounds for Combat Stress, the veterans’ mental health charity.

Battle Proms will return to Hatfield House next summer, with a provisional 2018 date of Saturday, July 14.

Fireworks at the finale of this year's Hatfield House Battle Proms [Picture: Melissa Moss]Fireworks at the finale of this year's Hatfield House Battle Proms [Picture: Melissa Moss]

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