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Leeds Castle Classical Concert fanfare in Maidstone is for the people of Kent says composer Tom Hodge

By Angela Cole

A fanfare, commissioned specially to mark Leeds Castle's 900th anniversary, will be a gift to the people of Kent, just as the castle itself was, says its composer.

Tom Hodge has been commissioned to write the 900 fanfare, A Tribute to Leeds Castle, which will be premiered at the Leeds Castle Classical Concert on Saturday, July 13.

And he said, like the castle's last private owner, Lady Baillie, who left the castle and grounds in a trust to be enjoyed by future generations, the fanfare was also for the people of Kent.

The Leeds Castle Classical Concert attracts thousands every year
The Leeds Castle Classical Concert attracts thousands every year

"The piece is bequeathed to the people of Kent aswell, as historically Lady Baillie left Leeds Castle to the people of Kent," he said. "It is a gift to the people of Kent. This is really quite unique."

He revealed that writing the piece had taken around a year, beginning with a visit to last year's concert.

Tom Hodge, composer of the Leeds Castle 900 fanfare, at the castle
Tom Hodge, composer of the Leeds Castle 900 fanfare, at the castle

"After I soaked up the atmosphere I realised the enormity of the engagement. It is a dream for a composer. There are so many different elements in it, it really is.""

The piece will be performed on the night by the 80-piece Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and conducted by artistic director John Rigby, who will also compere the concert.

Thousands will promenade and picnic
Thousands will promenade and picnic

Tom said the fanfare would touch on eras throughout the castle's history, including royal references, with Greensleeves, and the castle's Second World War role as a rehabilitation hospital for servicemen, represented by Morse Code. It will also feature the National Anthem and even moments of the Star Spangled Banner, referring to Lady Baillie's American heritage. There will also be well known film music and, of course, it will conclude with a traditional fanfare.

"The beauty of the piece is you listen to it and hear different things - each time you listen to it you will hear something," he said. "It is a potted history of the castle, hopefully. I hope I have made it accessible, as I want people to enjoy the nine and a half minutes."

Leeds Castle Classical Concert marks 900 years of the castle this year
Leeds Castle Classical Concert marks 900 years of the castle this year

Tom revealed writing a piece for Kent was also rewarding for him, as he had previously served in Kent in the Band of the Royal Marines in Deal, which will also perform. "It is very exciting for me," he said.

Composer Tom Hodge at Leeds Castle
Composer Tom Hodge at Leeds Castle

Joining the fanfare on the line-up for the concert will be soloist Oliver Tompsett, who has played leading roles in the West End including Charlie Price in Kinky Boots, Sky Masterson in Guys and Dolls and Galileo in We Will Rock You.

Leeds Castle Classical Concert soloist Oliver Tompsett
Leeds Castle Classical Concert soloist Oliver Tompsett

He said: "I feel so honoured to be singing at Leeds Castle. I cannot wait to soak up the atmosphere and enjoy singing some iconic anthems in this iconic setting."

Also performing will be tenor Nicky Spence, whose season highlights include Nikita From the House of the Dead and Sergeant Johnny Strong in the world premiere of Iain Bell’s Jack the Ripper at English National Opera.

Leeds Castle Classical Concert's Nicky Spence
Leeds Castle Classical Concert's Nicky Spence

They join female soloists soprano Alwyn Mellor and Louise Dearman who returns after making her debut last year.

The concert also features field guns, fireworks and a flypast by a Spitfire, with thousands expected to gather to picnic and promenade together in the picturesque setting.

To book tickets visit leedscastleconcert.co.uk.

Read more: All the latest entertainments and events new across Kent.

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