Review : Last Night of the Proms – Blackburn Cathedral

Blackburn Cathedral‘s annual ‘Last Night of the Proms’ concert took place on Saturday night to a capacity crowd. The concert featured the Northern Chamber Orchestra and the choirs from Blackburn Cathedral along with some other performers.

The evening began with the anthem ‘I Was Glad’ by Parry which many will know as the music that Kate Middleton walked down the aisle to at the recent Royal Wedding. It was a spine tingling performance and the first choral line of the piece never fails to hit the mark. Kate and William could have done just as well to invite Blackburn to perform the piece at their wedding. It was followed by performances of ‘Lo, the Full, Final Sacrifice’ by Finzi, an orchestral only Adagietto from Symphony No 5 by Mahler and ‘My Beloved Spake’ by Hadley.

Most church or classical concerts do not always make people think that laughter will be a key part of the evening but the ‘Toy Symphony’ by Mozart featured a surprising line-up of performers that ended the first part of the concert on a very light note. The performers of the toy instruments included the Dean of Blackburn Cathedral, Christopher Armstrong on the Quail Whistle, Lady Shuttleworth playing the Nightingale through to the Head Boy (Christoper Snape) and Head Girl (Alison Holmes) playing the toy trumpet and drum respectively. The cuckoo whistle interrupted the piece comically and Canon Andrew Hindley’s rattle appeared to have a life of its own.

The second half featured ‘Benedicite’ by Andrew Carter who was present for the evening’s performance. The piece featured a host of younger singers from local schools including St Thomas’ CE Primary (Blackburn), St Charles’ RC Primary (Rishton), Holy Trinity CE Primary (Darwen) and Salesbury CE Primary for three charming sections entitled ‘Badgers and Hedgehogs’, ‘Butterflies and Moths’ and ‘Grannies and Grandads’. The youngsters sang brightly and confidently and gained impromptu rounds of applause. Other parts conjured up all kinds of emotions with highlights being the tense and powerful ‘Thunder and Lightning’ and the incredible ‘Whales and Waters’ where the string section of the orchestra imitated the plaintive song of the whale.

The evening rounded off with a rousing version of Jerusalem and with it being the ‘Last Night of the Proms’ the required ‘Land of Hope and Glory’ where the whole audience and massed choirs joined in the waving of union flags. The conductor for the evening was James Davy, Acting Director of Music at the Cathedral.

The Cathedral’s music department can be justly proud of the quality of the whole evening and with tickets starting at only £5, these concerts can only count as an exceptional bargain. The evening was sponsored by local surveyors Lea, Hough & Co., so thanks should also go to them for helping these local performers shine.

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