Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra in National Day performance
A special concert on the eve of National Day, featuring the famous Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra, to commemorate 50 years since the 1967 Referendum “will present a great opportunity to celebrate Gibraltar’s Britishness”, Chief Minister Fabian Picardo has said.
Making the announcement that the 77- strong orchestra will perform on the Rock for the first time ever on Saturday 9 September at the Victoria Stadium, he insisted, the repertoire would be almost identical to the last night of the proms “with a little bit more”.
“We will be commemorating the referendum generation who started the ball rolling for the British Gibraltar that we are today,” he said, and also added that the concert would present some national elements which will be disclosed shortly.
“It is half a century since the people of Gibraltar were first able to freely express their desire to remain British by the ballot box. 15 years since we did it again in 2002 for the Joint-Sovereignty Referendum, and the Government wanted to make sure that we mark this in an appropriate way and therefore on 9 September this year, on the eve of National Day, and on the eve of that 50th anniversary, the RPCO will be in Gibraltar,” announced Mr Picardo at a press conference at No.6 yesterday.
“They are going to be in Gibraltar to deliver in great measure the ‘Last Night of the Proms’ repertoire which is a very patriotic and very nostalgic way of remembering those who 50 years ago were the ones who were responsible, in the face of all the bullying that Gibraltar was experiencing at the time, of bravely ensuring, that the ballots that they put in the ballot boxes were the ones that preserved Gibraltar’s Britishness.”
Mr Picardo said it was the intention as organisers that the concert should end at midnight with the appropriate national anthem played as Gibraltar starts the celebrations of 10 September 2017.
The Chief Minister is leading on this project as part of the events which will be held during the week leading to the 2017 National Day celebrations on Sunday 10 September.
Gibraltar, emphasised Mr Picardo, would be “recording, celebrating and commemorating” the 50th anniversary of the referendum that creates National Day each year but which this year will be “so much more special”.
The concert, he continued, would be “a very exciting night of music and song”. It will include old favourites like ‘Rule Brittania”, “Jerusalem”, “Nimrod”, and other numbers such as “Anthem” from the musical Chess. The aim is for this concert to be a family night.
The Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra was formed in 1987 and has built up an international reputation in its own right. Performing in the major concert halls and concert venues in the UK and around the world, from China and the Far East to North and South America, the RPCO is known for its versatile programming of classical, light classical and popular music.
“We had to make the choice of which orchestra would play us into National Day this year, and there is really one event which is a demonstration of British patriotism which is played out every year in the UK and it is the Proms, and in particular, the ‘Last Night of the Proms’. Why should we deprive Gibraltarians on such an important and auspicious occasion of that orchestra when it comes to doing our National Day eve concert, and 50th anniversary celebration of the referendum?” he told the Chronicle.
The orchestra will be conducted by Tim Henty. Two singers will also join the orchestra. English soprano Laura Wright who regularly performs with the RPCO and has sang at events such as the World Rugby Cup and Invictus Games. She will be joined by Welsh tenor Wynne Evans known for the Gocompare insurance adverts on television.
“Everyone must get behind this event because it will be a real opportunity to show Gibraltar’s passion for its Britishness, how we want to celebrate what the referendum generation did in the choice that they made, which may seem very simple now but 1967 was a different world,” he said, also emphasising how, “Franco was threatening Gibraltar with even more belligerence if we voted to remain British and those people went into those voting booths and returned a ballot which ignored the bully and made the choice they felt was right for future generations of Gibraltarians. We must honour and celebrate this and the Government will ensure that we have a real opportunity to do so together and to do it in an enjoyable way which provides homage to those who made those choices then.”
The Chief Minister said that as organisers they wanted to make this concert not just magnificent but also very accessible to all and make it a family night out. The price of the concert will be £5. The venue will be the stadium on the same stage as the music festival which will have been held the weekend before. Tickets will be numbered with a capacity crowd of over 1,000. The tickets should be on sale shortly.