Durham Cathedral Concert – Friday 5 June 2015
This was the first of two concerts organised by Brian Murphy in the Northern Area as part of the Association’s commemorations of the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain. It was attended by HM Lord-Lieutenant of County Durham Mrs Sue Snowdon and a number of local civil and military dignitaries.
The Band of the Royal Air Force College performed by kind permission of the Air Force Board and the concert was conducted and compered by Flt Lt Matt Little GTCL (Hons) FTCL LRSM DipTCL RAF with guest vocalist Heather Marie.
The concert took us on a musical journey starting with the build up to the Second World War with conscription and an increase in the number of workers and output from local factories and mines. We remembered the Durham Light Infantry in France with the Imperial March played on the organ by Canon Dr James Lancelot, Master of the Choristers and Organist at Durham Cathedral, and guest vocalist Heather Marie joined the Band to sing Foggy Day evoking a brief moment of peace that Chamberlain experienced in the fog at dawn in the early part of the war.
We were reminded of the fear and sacrifices made by families with parents away and the evacuation of children. The experience of children was brought to life by Molly Joyce reading an account written at the time by a young girl of a similar age. We continued through the Battle of France to the Battle of Britain and a chance to hear how it felt to be flying a Spitfire with a poem read by Darlington Branch Secretary Peter McGraghan.
The war continued and those in military service longed for home. Heather Marie captured that feeling with a stunning rendition of the shanty Shenandoah. The Band and Choir performed We Gather Lilacs as a thank you for the sacrifice made by all involved and a beautiful performance of Fantasy for Violin by SAC Hannah Wheway emphasised the plight of all affected by war.
This year has seen the 70th anniversary of VE Day and the spirit of that day came to life as the audience joined in with London Parade. Heather Marie sang one of her most popular songs: It’s a Lovely Day Tomorrow, and Union flags were waving throughout the Cathedral, feeling more like the last night of the Proms with Pomp and Circumstance No 1.
The Standards were marched back out to the RAF March and all the performers were given a standing ovation before Heather Marie’s encore of We’ll Meet Again.
This entertaining and enjoyable concert showed the diversity of this group of talented musicians while acknowledging and thanking those that were involved during the Battle of Britain and the Second World War.
If you would like to see the Band and Heather Marie perform, there will be another opportunity on 26 September at Liverpool Cathedral. Free tickets can be requested from the Northern Area office via email or by calling 01772 426930.