The fifth Classics Galore! concert in aid of FORCE proved another fantastic success with a standing ovation at the end of evening from an audience that had been thoroughly entertained.
A minute’s silence was held ahead of Saturday’s show at the University of Exeter Great Hall and everyone in the auditorium stood united night to pay tribute to the victims of the terrorist attacks in Paris with a minute’s silence.
“It seemed wholly appropriate to show our respect to those who lost their lives in the atrocities in France,” said concert compere Mark Tyler.
Classics Galore! has been held every two years since 2007 and has raised more than £50,000 for FORCE. Saturday’s show is expected to raise a further £15,000.
The musical extravaganza is one of the most popular events on the Exeter musical calendar and involves 200 musicians and singers – a full orchestra, two choral societies and a brass band.
The programme features a programme of popular classics and a Proms style finale, led by soprano soloist Penny Daw.
“Who would refuse the opportunity to sing Rule Britannia with a full orchestra!” said Penny. “I can vividly remember my first Classics Galore! concert in 2009, the overwhelming feeling of warmth from the audience and the enthusiastic flag waving at the end. Here I am singing in my fourth concert, which is an honour and a privilege.”
Penny had extra motivation for taking part in 2015.
“Classics Galore is more pertinent to me this year than any other as a close friend has recently been diagnosed with cancer and FORCE was a beacon of light in what was a very dark moment. Not until you need FORCE yourself, do you really appreciate the support and caring that is offered both by staff and volunteers,” she said.
Retired policeman Dick Passmore came up with the idea of a concert described as Exeter’s Night at the Proms. FORCE has supported him and his wife, Posy, in his ongoing battle with cancer.
“I am very proud to know that the fifth Classics Galore! concert has been yet another resounding success,” said Dick. “As I walked into a hall full of more than 1,000 music lovers, and heard wonderful music and singing, it was impossible not to be humbled, and, I admit, just a little tearful. I started this as a one-off fundraiser for this amazing charity in the hope of raising a few hundred pounds. Having now raised over £50,000, and hopefully after this concert that figure can now read at least £65,000, I have just one more ambition to reach the magic £100,000. That would be the icing a on an already beautiful cake!”
FORCE chief executive Meriel Fishwick said: “Huge thanks go to all those who have worked so hard to make this evening happen. And our thanks to all those people who come along to support and enjoy the concert, helping to raise much needed funds.”
Musical director Malcolm Matthews from Tipton St John conducted the concert with an orchestra featuring top musicians from across Devon plus singers from Exeter’s St David’s Players and the Ottery St Mary Choral Society and the South West Comms Band from Lympstone under its new musical director David Shead.
Chairman of the organising committee Annie Bassett from the Ottery St Mary Choral Society said: “Classics Galore! is proud to be part of a team that helps FORCE raise the £1million it needs each year to continue serving the community with compassion, kindness and expertise.”