Vivacious orchestra prepares for Blickling Proms

A nationally acclaimed orchestra will make its debut in north Norfolk this summer when it takes to the stage to enthral the audience at the Blickling Proms.

And Sinfonia Viva will also be providing the musical backdrop for the highly anticipated choreographed air display from the Grace Spitfire, which is expected to be a highlight amongst the proms programme.

The outdoor musical extravaganza takes place within the grounds of Blicking Hall – a new venue for the 54-piece orchestra, which members are looking forward to playing in and hope it will result in establishing some new fans.

Paul Helps, chief executive of the Derby-based group, said: 'We go to Holt Festival in July as well so we're looking forward to being up in that neck of the woods.

'It's always lovely to go somewhere new and meet a new audience, entertain them and show ourselves off a little bit. And we're very much hoping we might be invited back.'

Sinfonia Viva was established in 1983 and this year celebrates its 30th anniversary.

Members will be playing a selection of their favourite pieces at the proms on August 11 to mark the special birthday as well as William Walton's 'Spitfire Prelude', which will accompany the distinctive sounds of the second world war fighter plane – piloted by Carolyn Grace – as it performs its aerial ballet.

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Playing along to the breathtaking display is not a new practise for the Sinfonia Viva players, however as they have accompanied several other war time planes including the aircraft of the Battle of Britain during a memorial flight.

Mr Helps said players are not fazed by playing during the spectacle, but they sometimes wish they were the other side of their instruments.

'It doesn't make it much harder for us, it's just a shame we can't see it because we're working,' he added. 'It's hugely, hugely fun and it's amazing because what you really notice if you sit in the audience is that before you see the plane, you hear the engine.

'It's got a specific tone to it, which is really special.'

The performance will also pair the players once more with versatile conductor Roderick Dunk, who will have the job of keeping them in time as the Spitfire passes by overhead, and feature the voice of accomplished soprano Annette Wardell (pictured inset).

The proms is the only concert at Blickling this year and promises to be a true British celebration. Visitors are welcome to bring their own picnic and wine to the event, which will finish with a grand fireworks display.

? Tickets cost �32, with group discounts available, and can be booked online via or by calling the box office on 01263 734711.

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