Friday, 24 June 2011

Waving the Flag

Rule Brittania! Brittania rule the waves!
Britons never, never, never shall be slaves!

I and a group of other ex-pat Brits waved the flag this week at the Toronto Symphony Orchestra's version of the Last Night of the Proms, a musical party of all things British.

The Promenade Concerts started in England in 1895, and have continued since then, with classical and pops music presented in concert halls all over Britain.
But the culminating concert, the Last Night of the Proms, takes place at the Royal Albert Hall in London, and always features the pieces of music that bring tears to the eyes of Brits living abroad, such as Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance (features Land of Hope and Glory), Fantasia on British Sea Songs (includes Rule Brittania!), and the hymn, Jerusalem.

Are you sniffling yet, ex-pats? Just a little bit?

We couldn't make it all the way to London, so we decided to attend the Canadian version. When we arrived at Roy Thomson Hall, the 48th Highlanders of Canada Pipes and Drums were in full voice with Scotland the Brave.

Once inside the concert hall, the crowd began to fill the 2630 seats, with many of the concert-goers clutching a flag.... mostly Union Jacks, but some Scottish, Welsh and English flags too. After all, this is a flag-waving extravaganza, if you don't have a flag to wave at this event, you're in the minority!
If you didn't have a flag, not to worry, they were selling them in the lobby, so there was no excuse!

And the guests of honour were Will and Kate (well, Will and Kate wannabe's actually). And of course, the orchestra played the appropriate wedding music.... Mendelssohn's Wedding March, and Sammy Kahn's Love and Marriage.

Arranged on the next level above the orchestra were the members of the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir.
(Sorry about the blurry photos, you'll have to click to enlarge Will and Kate.)
Maestro Bramwell Tovey was scheduled to conduct the concert, but unfortunately he had to cancel due to the sudden death of his mother, so Maestro Grant Llewellyn took over at short notice, and he was marvellous. Funny, personable and entertaining. A great afternoon at the Symphony!


My volunteer job often has me taking tickets and showing people to their seats at my local Theatre and Arts and Culture Centre, where some great concerts take place. Last night was no exception. The opening artist was Ian Kelly, a singer-songwriter from Montreal.... he was awesome.
And the main act of the evening was Meaghan Smith, Canadian singer-songwriter and Juno Award winner... wow, could she sing! And she's gorgeous too. Accompanied by her guitarist husband (who she calls her husBAND, cos he makes up the whole band!) she sang her way through her latest CD... great stuff. I sold CDs and merchandise for her at intermission, and she gave me a copy of her CD.... I can't wait to listen to it!


  1. Hi there,
    I just spent 10 days in the Maritime Provinces of Canada. What a lovely time. I enjoyed every minute...the beautiful country, lovely people, and good food.

  2. I love last night of the proms!

  3. Should be called "Last Night of the Poms"

  4. Meaghan Smith: never heard of her before but looked her up on YouTube. Lovely lady, lovely singer.

  5. Beautiful singer. I love proms too!

  6. Lots of musical excitement in your life, I see, Sham. But why does that not surprise me!

  7. Even some of us NZ'ers like to watch the Proms. Good music and fun. Thanks for calling on my blog - Dave

  8. I think you British ex=pats know how to have a fun time.

  9. That Concert Hall is AMAZING looking...I love the way it is set up---and it looks like there isn't a bad seat in the house!!! It sure is BIG! Great seeing your pictures big, too, my dear. Loved 'Will & Kate'!
    I got choked up just reading all the songs and music that would be played and I'm not even English!!! It had to be something to be there 'in person'.

  10. The Meaghan Smith cover has a great photo. I like how there is a bright light with strong contrasts above her, but then soft fill-in light for her face. I am going to take a picture of a young friend next week, and I hope it turns out as nice. My portrait will be a high school graduation photo for my friend's daughter. Wish me luck!


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