Lights, camera…. MUSICListed on September 15, 2015 in Member News
Battle of Britain 75th film tribute
Hitchin’s contribution to the 75th Battle of Britain Commemorations produced a sell-out concert on Sunday 13th September at Benslow Music’s Peter Morrison Hall. It was also the first time Hitchin Film and Benslow Music joined their formidable resources and the success of the evening suggests this will be an event that will be repeated. At the centre of the evening was a piano concerto written in 1941 by Richard Addinsell which underpinned the Battle of Britain film Dangerous Moonlight, directed by Brian Desmond Hurst. Prior to a live performance of this finest of English concertos the context of the evening was introduced by Peter Hewitt chief executive of Benslow Music.
This was supported by two guest speakers. First up was Air Vice Marshall Alan Merriman who had been inspired by Dangerous Moonlight to join the RAF and become a fighter pilot. Having gone on to become the RAF’s chief test pilot the Air Vice-Marshall explained the position the UK found itself in the Summer of 1940 as she ‘stood alone’. Dangerous Moonlight is built around a love story and a Polish pilot who returns to Britain to do his part during these dark days and Air Vice Marshall Merriman paid his own tribute to the significant contribution the Polish pilots made during the Battle of Britain.
Then Allan Esler Smith, nephew of the film’s director Brian Desmond Hurst and administrator of the Hurst Estate explained how his Uncle commissioned Richard Addinsell to compose Warsaw Concerto and selected one his proteges to write the script. The protégé was Shaun Terence Young who went on to director the early Bond Films including Dr No. The concerto was one of Allan’s favourite pieces of music. He confessed that he would probably feel quite emotional hearing it again as, to him, it encompassed everything about his Uncle fantastic film career which spanned over 30 films, over three decades filmed in three continents. To applause John Paul Ekins stepped forward and played the nine and half minutes of Warsaw Concerto in quite the most appropriate venue and for an audience that hung on every note played. It was a virtuoso performance from one of London’s leading pianists. Dangerous Moonlight was then shown by Hitchin Film and the echos of the Warsaw Concerto theme music echoed again for the audience and made this, using another film title, very much ‘a night to remember’.
Editorial — Allan Smith