By Mark McKay
RECORD crowds saw Napoleonic infantry skirmish and a Spitfire flypast as the Battle Proms marked its tenth anniversary at Blenheim Palace on Saturday.
A 6,600-strong crowd watched the New English Orchestra play military-inspired pieces to mark the First World War’s centenary and next year’s bi-centenary of the Battle of Waterloo.
The open-air concert was joined by 193 cannon, 150 Napoleonic Association re-enactors and 12 cavalrymen in Great War regalia from the living history group Crown and Empire.
It was the second year spectator Olwen Goss, of Wantage, had visited the event at the palace grounds in Woodstock.
She said: “Jerusalem was my favourite.
“That was on towards the end but it was very British and very patriotic.
“Towards the end we came down to watch the amazing performances and fireworks.
“There were troops firing their muskets, which were really spectacular, and it was a really good atmosphere.”
The five-hour concert began with the three-piece vintage singers the Rockabellas.
Then the orchestras’ two-hour performance opened with the flypast to a rendition of Gustav Holst’s Jupiter before Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture.
The concert is named after Beethoven’s Battle Symphony – also known as Wellington’s Victory.
Concert organiser Adam Slough said: “It’s our biggest crowd yet at Battle Proms and also the most exciting.
“The infantry, cavalry were superb and the Spitfire gave a great panoramic display.”
The concert finished with a firework display over the palace grounds in Woodstock.
Mr Slough said: “We go completely to town with it.
“It is the proms for the patriotic and a quintessentially British summer event.”
The Battle Proms raise money for veterans’ mental health charity Combat Stress.
This year it has raised £22,000, taking the total amount raised to £166,250 in eight years.
Mr Slough added: “There are lots of military charities but this one feels like one that’s overlooked because it’s mental rather than physical health.
“But we think it’s a very worthwhile case and we are proud to be their supporters.”
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