A packed St Mary’s Centre in Clitheroe was the scene for the opening of the Ribble Valley Music Festival on Saturday when the community came together for vigorous flag waving and singing to celebrate the Queen’s 90th birthday and Her Majesty becoming the longest reigning monarch.
Wingates Band were on top form opening the concert with a stirring rendition of “Crown Imperial” followed by music from each of the decades of the Queen’s reign which focussed on the Beatles, Abba, The Lion King and Star Wars.
During the latter, Darth Vader (aka the vicar of Clitheroe Parish Church, the Rev. Andy Froud) only succeeded for a short while in his attempts to take over conducting the band until its musical director Paul Andrews returned brandishing his light saber to defeat the legendary villain.
Paul also provided many humorous stories and anecdotes during the evening.
Bob Cleeve kept it all together with an eloquent narration of events in each of the decades provoking many memories and demonstrating the dramatic changes that have taken place during the reign of The Queen.
A specially commissioned poem about the Queen was delivered passionately by the author Joan Marsh and brought a resounding applause from the audience. Actress Sam Smith gave an authentic voicing of the Queen’s vow which was linked to a rendition by Caitlin Wineyard of “I Vow to Thee My Country”. Caitlin later sang “If I Ruled the World” before leading the audience with “Rule Britannia”, “Jerusalem”, “Land of Hope and Glory” and “Happy Birthday Your Majesty”.
Music from the four corners of the United Kingdom included an uplifting “Men of Harlech”, a moving “Nimrod”, a robust “River Dance” and a surprise appearance by Pipe Major Bill Barlow performing “Amazing Grace” on the bagpipes with an impromptu chorus from the audience.
The atmosphere throughout the evening was nostalgic, joyous, uplifting and with a few tears of joy here and there. It was a true celebration of the reign of the Queen with tribute being paid to notable milestones.
The audience enjoyment was clear by their spontaneous participation, enthusiastic applause and demands for an encore. The high quality of all performances and the organisation of the event upheld the reputation that has been earned by this festival.
All proceeds from the events staged in the Ribble Valley Music Festival are donated to the religious venues where they are held throughout the valley over the next eight months.
The Royal Salute concert on Saturday raised a donation to St Mary’s of £883.
Clive Greenwood, chairman of the Ribble Valley Music Festival, said: “We are grateful for the fabulous support to this opening event and the funds that it has raised for the church.
“We have an exciting programme of further fund raising music events in the festival that will provide occasions for the community to continue to come together.”
l Details of future events will be published in the Clitheroe Advertiser.