What English summer is complete without a concert in the grounds of a stately home, with a picnic, a glass of fizz, fireworks  - and a waterproof.

Thankfully for the crowds that flocked to Cholmondeley Castle for the annual classical spectacular on Saturday, June 14 the latter was not required.

The sun had shone on Cholmondeley all day for the Pageant of Power, warming up the ground and the air for the evening's entertainment.

First up was Sole Mio, a trio of Samoan singers, who described themselves as 'world famous....in New Zealand, but nowhere else.'  The family group of tenor brothers Pene and Amitai Pati and baritone cousin Moses Mackay were an unexpected treat and set the standard for a top class evening of entertainment.  Their repertoire included a song from home about a Yellow Hummingbird, Nessun Dorma  and a musical Haka with a Pacific island flavour.  Let's hope they can extend their stay in the UK and introduce themselves to more audiences.

The rich harmonies of quintet Celeste, all former female choristers, filled the castle air, with a change of tempo before we were introduced to the pure tones of soprano Laura Wright.  Wright is the official anthem singer for the England rugby team and you can appreciate why - pity the lads in Brazil didn't have her support later in the evening when they kicked off against Italy.


The theme of the concert followed that of England's debut World Cup match with works by Puccini and Rossini before the inevitable Pomp and Circumstance, Land of Hope and Glory and Rule Britannia.

A guest appearance by the male voice choir Only Men Aloud meant that a few Welsh hymns also sneaked in before compere and host Aled Jones gave a beautiful rendition of the hymn How Great Thou Art.  It was funny to watch the nine Welshman and three Samoans embrace England's Green and Pleasant Land in Hubert Parry's Jerusalem, although books were required.

The spectacular fireworks were a triumphant end to an excellent evening before the empty plates and glasses were put back in the dry picnic baskets.