Friday, 12 August 2022

Mayor joins the fun at Last Night of the Proms show

UNION flags lined St Mary’s Church in Henley to mark a Last Night of the Proms concert on Saturday.

UNION flags lined St Mary’s Church in Henley to mark a Last Night of the Proms concert on Saturday.

Mayor Stefan Gawrysiak organised the sold-out event, which began with a performance by the Henley Symphony Orchestra, led by David Burton and conducted by Ian Brown.

The orchestra played a programme of accessible classical music, including excerpts from Handel’s Water Music and a Gershwin overture. A 14ft x 10ft screen at the front of the church then showed the second half of the Last Night of The Proms live from the Royal Albert Hall.

Henley singer Naomi Vallance, ukelele band No Direction and Julie Huntington, who chairs Henley Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society, performed in the brief intervals between pieces.

Mrs Huntington appeared wearing a red dress and trident during the rendition of Rule Britannia and was joined by Cllr Gawrysiak who was draped in a Union flag.

The audience waved flags and sang along to several of the pieces, including Jerusalem and the National Anthem. Cllr Gawrysiak, who wore a novelty hat as well as his mayoral chain, was delighted with the celebration.

“You hope it is going to go well but you are never quite sure, especially as it has never been done in Henley before,” he said. “The performance by Henley Symphony Orchestra was absolutely brilliant, as was the screening from the Royal Albert Hall. The setting and the acoustics were absolutely stunning.

“There was a wonderful atmosphere and I have had an email from somebody who said they had never heard an audience singing so loudly in the church before.”

About 250 people attended the event, which was in aid of the Mayor’s charities, Sue Ryder, Headway, Riverside counselling, Age UK Oxfordshire and the Chiltern Centre for disabled children. The concert is expected to have raised about £1,500.

Cllr Gawrysiak, who is a keen classical music fan, said: “I would love to do it again next year because I think it could become a really good event for Henley. We are extremely lucky to have a full orchestra of such stunning quality and it is nice to put on something that shows off the musicians.”

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