Battle Proms concert thrills thousands at Hatfield House
PUBLISHED: 18:03 16 July 2018 | UPDATED: 17:58 18 July 2018
Thousands of flag waving Battle Proms fans attended the picnic concert at Hatfield House on Saturday.
Now in its 18th year at the Hertfordshire stately home, an estimated crowd of more than 7,000 enjoyed the annual event in the Queen Elizabeth Oak Field.
Revellers were entertained by a sublime programme of classical music and thrilling displays on a scorching summer’s day.
Ticket holders were able to enjoy fireworks, The Red Devils parachute display team, a Spitfire air display and explosive cannon fire, as the Battle Proms party went with a bang – again.
The evening kicked off with a First World War cavalry display, with the mounted skill-at-arms re-enactment being carried out in full 1918 uniforms.
The Red Devils, the Parachute Regiment and British Army’s official display team, then wowed the crowd with a spectacular freefall demonstration from 2,000ft – with one of the team flying the Union Jack.
Keeping with the military theme, the concert’s chosen charity this year was SSAFA, and once again generous Battle Prommers dug deep for the Armed Forces charity, with the exact amount raised at Hatfield on Saturday night to be confirmed.
The Vignettes – singers Pippa and Lizzie, and their backing band – warmed up the huge crowd for the main musical programme with some vintage vocals and toe-tapping tunes.
The traditional evening gun salute by the English Field Artillery Company this year commemorated the centenary of the end of World War One.
Accompanied by the ‘Spicy Piper’ Mark Bisset on the Scottish bagpipes and a flurry of musket fire, the gun salute from a WW1 13pdr field gun also heralded the arrival of the Grace Spitfire overhead.
While the New English Concert Orchestra, conducted by Douglas Coombes MBE, performed Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance March No 5 and Nimrod from Enigma Variations, the historic World War Two fighter aircraft majestically performed aerobatics in the skies above Hatfield House in a display choreographed to the music.
As ever, the classical programme’s first half finished with Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture – complete with live cannon fire and fireworks.
That only served as a taster for Battle Proms’ signature piece – Ludwig van Beethoven’s The Battle of Vitoria, Op 91, or as it is better known, Wellington’s Victory, the Battle Symphony.
This centrepiece of the night after the interval was performed as the composer intended, with 193 live cannon, musket fire and fireworks, with the explosions being heard in Digswell.
Compered by Songs of Praise presenter Pam Rhodes, the concert also included Ravel’s Bolero – the famous piece British ice dancers Jane Torvill and Christopher Dean skated to gold in the Sarajevo 1984 Winter Olympics.
The orchestra also performed works by Franz von Suppé, Johann Strauss II, Franz Joseph Haydn and Rossini before the Last Night of the Proms-esque finale.
Proms favourites Jerusalem, Rule, Britannia! and Pomp and Circmumstance March No 1 - Land of Hope and Glory, with soprano soloist Denise Leigh, rounded off the concert, accompanied by yet more fireworks, before a rousing rendition of God Save the Queen.
The provisional date for Battle Proms 2019 in Hatfield is Saturday, July 13.
• For more on Battle Proms, visit www.battleproms.com