Update – unfortunately this event has now been cancelled.
Concert goers will be welcomed as the gates open at 4.30pm on Sunday 24 July to set the scene, within Bowood House and Gardens’ ‘Capability’ Brown parkland, for picnicking and pre-concert entertainment starting around 6.15pm. A military Pipes and Drums band will then strike up, followed by the Wiltshire Army Cadet Force Corps of Drums made up of 16-18 year-olds.
Added meaning will come to the evening’s ‘Open to the Skies’ theme, and a sense of excitement and anticipation will build further, when – favourable weather permitting – the Royal Air Force’s six-man Falcons parachute display team (also known as the ‘Big Six’) from No 1 Parachute Training School, perform ahead of the main concert itself beginning at approximately 7.15pm.
As the Central Band of the Royal Air Force – which has played a vital part in state ceremonial events and military tattoos since its establishment in 1920 – takes to the stage and a dramatic Spitfire,Hurricane, Lancaster and Dakota formation fly-past (again depending on the weather) emerges from three different directions, just ahead of sunset, the concert will truly be underway. With Bowood House as a stately back drop, there will be performances too by soprano Matilda Wale and the award-winning Wessex Male Choir. The singing of ‘Jerusalem’, the RAF march past and a fireworks display over the lake are all bound to provide a highly moving and memorable round-off to the evening.
‘This first-time event looks set to be tremendously appealing for those living in and near to Wiltshire who are so proud and supportive of our armed services and the region’s military heritage. Our ‘Open to the Skies’ Patrons are drawn from RAF and Army top brass and we are also delighted that Bowood’s Marchioness of Lansdowne and Wiltshire’s Lord Lieutenant Sarah Troughton have kindly agreed to be Patrons too,’ says Colin Cheshire who has devised, and is steering, the concert together with fellow volunteer Des Morgan. ‘Just a month after this year’s centrepiece Platinum Jubilee celebrations, the evening at Bowood will very much continue in the same spirit of national pride.’
Des Morgan adds: ‘After the various challenges of the past two years, we also anticipate that concert goers will have a great appetite for a stirring summer gathering of this nature. We are hoping to attract an audience of some 6,000+ with a view to raising £100,000 for various highly-deserving military and Wiltshire charities, such as Combat Stress and Julia’s House.’