A flag-waving capacity house cheered the 10th annual Bexhill Festival of Music to a triumphant conclusion on Sunday night.
The Last Night of the Bexhill Proms at the De La Warr Pavilion was the 44th and final event of more than a month of music-making.
It also brought the curtain down on former West End singer Cllr Tony Mansi’s decade of leadership of the festival he founded.
At a pre-concert reception, Pavilion director Stewart Drew led guests in a toast to Tony, telling him: “You have done an amazing job.”
The Sussex Concert Orchestra under conductor Kenneth Roberts backed by the festival’s choir delivered a well-balanced programme.
Host Jonathan Coad doubled in the baritone role, introducing his wife, soprano Anne Osborne, and tenor Luke Price together with the orchestral pieces and lacing it with anecdotes drawn from a career which has included 27 years in the chorus of the Royal Opera, Covent Garden.
The choir “tra-lahed” an unusual embellishment to the opening Radetsy March, heralding a heavily Strauss-influenced first half.
Anne Osborne has been a soprano soloist at a number of performances at the Royal Opera House. She delighted with I’m In Love with Vienna before the orchestra launched into the Tritsch Tratsch Polka.
Anne and Luke were perfectly paired for the Brindisi duet from Puccini’s La Traviata. The operatic theme continued seamlessly with the orchestra’s rendition of the overture from Die Fledermaus.
No last night of the proms event would be complete without Nessum Dorma and Luke Price did not disappoint.
The first half ended with Anne and Jonathan teaming for the Blue Danube Duet.
The audience had arrived to find a flag on every seat. Union flags be-decked the auditorium. The scene was set for a finale steeped in proms tradition.
The programme contained the words, augmented by back-projection behind the choir. All it needed was an audience in good voice and inspired by the moment.
They had come to enjoy themselves – and enjoy themselves they did.
If producer Tony Mansi could not see through the stage-lighting from his place in the choir he would certainly have heard his audience as they sang and cheered through the time-honoured sequence.
With the nation poised on the brink of sea-change, I Vow to Thee My Country, Fantasia on British Sea Songs and Rule Britannia, Pomp and Circumstance, Land of Hope and Glory, Jerusalem, the National Anthem and Auld Lang Syne took on special significance.
It was a fitting finale to Bexhill Music Festival’s first decade of success.
Pictures by John Dowling.
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