Prom 12: Ten Pieces Presents … Sir Henry’s Magnificent Musical Inspirations! [second concert]

“Proms founder-conductor Sir Henry Wood is on a mission to find out what sparks musical inspiration. Join him to discover how nature, history, literature and art have all inspired composers to create musical masterpieces. Perfect for all the family.” [BBC Proms website]

Sir Henry Wood – Rory Kinnear
Emma – Ellis George
Henry V – Ivanno Jeremiah
Dan – Louis Walwyn
Kathryn Lewek (soprano; Queen of the Night)
Gaurav Mazumdar (sitar)
Jess Gillam (saxophone)
Ten Pieces Children’s Choir
North Lincolnshire Music Hub
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Jessica Cottis

Reviewed by: Amanda-Jane Doran

Reviewed: 23 July, 2017
Venue: Royal Albert Hall, London

Actors Louis Walwyn and Ellis George perform at Ten Pieces Presents… Sir Henry’s Magnificent Musical Inspirations at the 2017 BBC PromsPhotograph: Pete Dadds/BBCThere was a distinct Doctor Who feel to this Ten Pieces Prom. A time traveller was summoned to the Royal Albert Hall pursued by a malevolent cosmic leader in female clothing. There were two young assistants, played by Ellis George and Louis Walwyn, both with notable television credentials, but the force that drew them together was music and the inspiration that forms it.

The Time Traveller was Sir Henry Wood, co-instigator of the Proms in 1895, his appearance instigated by the sounds of a Magic Flute, so we heard the Mozart’s Overture to it and, later, an aria from the Queen of the Night: Kathryn Lewek’s presence as the Pantomime was heavily trailed in over-stage projections before she appeared in person.

The concert opened with a bang: Aaron Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man. The brass and percussion of the Royal Philharmonic captured the attention of young and old, and was followed by the title-chorus from Elgar’s The Music Makers, sung by the Ten Pieces Choir made up of youngsters from all over the UK aged seven upwards. It was a moving moment to hear the children affirm the centrality of music in their lives, “We are the Music Makers … the dreamer of dreams.”

Actor Rory Kinnear in the role of Sir Henry Wood at Ten Pieces Presents… Sir Henry’s Magnificent Musical Inspirations at the 2017 BBC PromsPhotograph: Pete Dadds/BBCA varied and fast-moving programme included drama and wistfulness. Lili Boulanger’s Debussy-like D’un matin de printemps underscored the inclusion of female composers, reiterated by a fabulous choral cityscape created for the children by Kerry Andrew, No Place Like, conducted by Grace Rossiter. Music from William Walton’s Henry V score (for Olivier’s film) and the opening of Vivaldi’s Gloria kept the mood upbeat, while some of the Finale from Ravi Shankar’s Symphony (with sitar) and the first of Peter Sculthorpe’s Island Songs (featuring Jess Gillam) provided a lovely contrast in cultural diversity.

Henry Wood’s ‘Jack’s the Lad Hornpipe’ (part of his Fantasia on Sea Songs) involved us all, led with gusto by Rory Kinnear as the Grand Old Man, and Respighi’s ‘Pines of the Appian Way’ (from Pines of Rome) closed the concert, Jessica Cottis drawing electric performances, as throughout, from the RPO.

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