Bloody Assizes; gutsy Brott! Reply

Review by Judith Caldwell
Sunday was the 200th Anniversary of the Ancaster Bloody Assizes which was celebrated at Fieldcote Museum with plays, speeches and an orchestral concert by the National Academy Orchestra as part of the Brott Music Festival. I thought I had arrived on site early but a play was in progress so I quietly erected my camp-chair & watched the sad demise of those hanged [hung?] after being found guilty of treason at the Bloody Assize. They did have a trial and not all were found guilty.

Brott; his 'sidearm' & some NAO musicians doing the "1812".

Brott; his ‘sidearm’; & some NAO musicians doing the “1812”.

After the play we were informed that the music would be in a larger area of the park, so we all dismantled our chairs and moved. The new area was much bigger but also very uneven and muddy in quite a few places.
Speeches and another play, unfortunately many of the audience could not see the actors so it was like listening to a play on the radio. The drama brought home the horrors of war, especially a local war. Finally the orchestra which opened with Beethoven’s Battle Symphony,; written to celebrate Wellington’s victory over Joseph Napoleon. The orchestra was set up as two opposing sides with dueling trumpets and snare drums and there are two themes “Rule Britannia” for Wellington and “Marlborough has left for the war” (now known as The Bear Went Over the Mountain) for Bonaparte. Ben Kepes conducted this symphony and I don’t know whether it was the orchestra out of sync or the sound system, but the first movement sounded muffled and uneven. Whatever the problem was it was sorted by the second movement which sounded excellent and wonderfully rousing.
Even though it was a totally different war, we celebrated our 1812 War with Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture. This paean was composed as thanks for the deliverance of Russia from the attack by Napoleon and contains the familiar Russian Imperial Anthem and La Marseillaise in juxtaposition. It also famously contains cannon shots and church bells. Brott conducted and said he had electronic cannon as he was not allowed real ones. Electronics are not always reliable & in this case each time the cannon was called for we got huge clouds of smoke which obliterated the conductor completely,. But the orchestra gamely played on and when it came to the peals of church bells they were wonderful. It was an interesting evening, the rain held off and the mosquitoes were not too bad – thank heaven for repellant.

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