Mike Paul-Smith Music’s line-ups are the perfect entertainment for any celebration – and they don’t come much bigger than the Leeds Castle Concert, which we have now been invited to perform at twice.
This event takes place in the stunning grounds of Leeds Castle (near Maidstone in Kent) where, for one day each summer, more than 12,000 concert-goers don their Union Jack outfits and gather for a celebration of live music and (hopefully) glorious British weather.
It’s a particularly special event because the headline act is the world-famous Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, directed by conductor John Rigby and featuring star soloists from the worlds of opera and the West End.
The event starts with a somewhat unsubtle announcement (a huge burst of cannon fire) which invites guests into the grounds, where they find their favourite spot for picnicking and drinking, and enjoying the live music.
Then live entertainment comes from musicians such as Down for the Count All-Stars – the 12-piece “mini big band” which is one of Mike Paul-Smith’s earliest band line-ups. This line-up is often found performing at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club, The London Jazz Festival, Twinwood Festival, at vintage parties and events throughout the country, and also on tour at theatres and other jazz clubs.
For the Leeds Castle Concert, we were asked to perform a set of well-known swing classics with an emphasis on the music of Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong. We opened with Benny Goodman’s Sing Sing Sing, before moving on to well-known Ella & Louis classics such as Cheek to Cheek, Dream a Little Dream of Me, When You’re Smiling and many more.
After our set, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra took to the stage just as the sun was setting and audiences were treated to the highlight of the evening – a Spitfire display to the glorious sounds of the orchestra. Apparently the team behind the Leeds Castle Concert were the first to put a Spitfire demonstration to live music and it’s quite a feat, involving the orchestra’s performance being broadcast into the cockpit so the pilot knows what to do!
After that there was much flag-waving as the RPO performed classics from Last Night of the Proms, famous arias including Nessun Dorma, and classics from stage and screen performed by West End stars.
And, to round things off, as night fell there was of course a stunning fireworks display – again to live music.
It’s an unforgettable event to be involved in and there are so many unique and wonderful things about the Leeds Castle Concert. Mike Paul-Smith Music’s bands can perform at any celebration, large or small – whilst we loved performing to 12,000 people at Leeds Castle we once performed at a private party with just 9 guests (there were more people in the band) – which was equally special – so don’t let the size or scale of your event put you off getting in touch!