Moonlight becomes Hitchin celebration of classical music and cinema marking Battle of Britain date

At the Benslow Music presentation of Dangerous Moonlight, Peter Hewitt of Benslow Music, Tim Ray of

At the Benslow Music presentation of Dangerous Moonlight, Peter Hewitt of Benslow Music, Tim Ray of Hitchin Film, Allan Esler Smith, Air Vice Marshall Alan Merriman and John Paul Ekins - Credit: Archant

A concert combining classical music and cinema to mark the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain proved to be a sellout success.

A still from the wartime film Dangerous Moonlight

A still from the wartime film Dangerous Moonlight - Credit: Archant

The community cinema team at Hitchin Film and the town’s performance and tuition venue Benslow Music teamed up for Sunday’s show at the Benslow Lane venue.

At the centre of the programme was a performance of the brief piano concerto written in 1941 by Richard Addinsell which underpinned the Battle of Britain film Dangerous Moonlight, directed by Brian Desmond Hurst.

Guest speaker Air Vice Marshall Alan Merriman told how he had been inspired by the film to join the RAF and become a fighter pilot, eventually becoming the RAF’s chief test pilot.

He paid tribute to the significant contribution the Polish pilots made during the Battle of Britain – the storyline of the patriotic wartime film, also known as Suicide Squad, involves a battle-fatigued Polish airman and musician, played by Anton Walbrook, who decides to leave his safe haven in the USA and join the RAF defenders to fend off the Nazi threat, while also falling in love with a glamorous American war correspondent.

Sheet music of the Warsaw Concerto, featured in the film Dangerous Moonlight

Sheet music of the Warsaw Concerto, featured in the film Dangerous Moonlight - Credit: Archant

Allan Esler Smith, nephew of the film’s director, explained how his uncle had commissioned Addinsell to compose the concerto and selected one his proteges to write the script.

That protégé, Shaun Terence Young, went on to direct early Bond films including Dr No.

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He confessed that the concerto remained one of his favourite pieces of music.

To applause John Paul Ekins stepped forward and played the concerto for an audience which hung on every note played. It was a virtuoso performance from one of London’s leading pianists.

The film was then screened to the appreciative audience as the familiar theme filled the Peter Morrison Hall for a second time.

Click here to find out about forthcoming Hitchin Films presentations

Find out more about the facilities at Benslow Music here

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