10. Promenade Concerts 1927-1954

Promenade Concerts 1927-1954

1927 Wednesday 14th September
1928 Saturday 22nd September
1929 Saturday 7th September
1930 Friday 29th August
1931 Wednesday 19th August
1938 Wednesday 24th August
1939 Wednesday 30th August
1940 Friday 16th August
Wednesday 21st August
Wednesday 2nd October
1946 Monday 2nd September
1954 Friday 17th September

The first of a number of Henry Wood Promenade concerts was broadcast from the Queen’s Hall on September 14th 1927.  James was joint piano soloist with Victor Hely-Hutchinson in a performance of Bach’s Concerto for Two Keyboards, BWV 1061. He may also have been the keyboard player in Brandenburg Concerto no 6.  Photographs of the three soloists in the concert that night were featured in the Radio Times. Miss Noel Eadie, a soprano, sang Bach Cantata number 21 with the Henry Wood Symphony Orchestra.  The whole concert, which included Beethoven ‘Eroica’ Symphony amongst other items, was conducted by Henry Wood.

The Manchester Guardian of 7th September also notes that the same two piano players were engaged to play Bach Double Piano Concertos No. 1 and 2  (C minor and C major) in the Queen’s Hall on September 14th which was also to be broadcast.  A review of this concert in the Times stated that ‘…Mr Ching and Mr Hely-Hutchinson are musicians who adapt themselves to each other and give us the true essence of Bach…’ 
Truth Magazine of 21st September wrote ‘…(the Bach Concertos) were played by Mr James Ching and Mr V. Hely-Hutchinson with an accuracy of finger-work and an exhilarating sense of rhythm that Bach does not always obtain from his worshipers’.

The Illustrated London News of 1st October reflects on the Promenade Season under the title THE WORLD OF MUSIC as follows ‘The BBC’s first season of Promenade Concerts at the Queen’s Hall has been, as I had the temerity to prophesy, an unqualified success……Two newcomers, Mr James Ching and Mr V. Hely-Hutchinson, distinguished themselves as pianists in two Bach pianoforte concertos….’

The Daily News and Chronicle of 20th August 1931 describes an ‘All-Bach Concert’ in which ‘Bach confounded the critics of the one-composer programme last night, when a complete concert of his works filled the Queen’s Hall….. The concerto for violin, flute, pianoforte and strings is another attractive work, and in this, Mr James Ching, the BBC Bach virtuoso, played the piano part with fine sense.’

A review of the second Promenade Concert of the 1938 season is shown in the Daily Telegraph for 23rd August entitled Great Audience for Bach.Myers Foggin, Dorothy Manley and James played Bach’s triple piano concerto and ….Mr Ching also played the concerto in E’.

James is listed in the Promenade Concerts Archive today as having played in twelve concerts, despite the declaration of war on September 3rd 1939 when all theatres and concert venues were abruptly closed.  This ruling was eased later on and some concerts did take place.  A contemporary programme exists for a Promenade Concert for Friday August 16th 1940 under the auspices of The Royal Philharmonic Society in which James is listed as soloist for a performance of Beethoven’s 2nd Piano Concerto.  This is advertised as taking place in the Queen’s Hall as part of Sir Henry Wood’s forty sixth and Farewell Season with the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Sir Henry Wood himself. In this programme another concert is advertised for Wednesday August 21st with James as soloist playing Bach’s Piano Concerto No 1.  It is not clear whether these concerts took place or not. This concert is not advertised as being broadcast by the British Broadcasting Service as previous ones had been.  On May 10th 1941 the Queen’s Hall was bombed and after the war the concerts were continued from the Albert Hall.  A programme for a much later Promenade Concert on Friday 17th September 1954, is shown as the sixtieth (Diamond Jubilee) season of the Henry Wood Promenade Concerts and scheduled to be broadcast from the Albert Hall.  James was named as the soloist in a performance of Bach Brandenburg Concerto No. 5 in D with the BBC Symphony Orchestra conducted by Sir Malcolm Sargent.  The centre of the programme lists the season’s schedule for 1954 – 1955 to take place in the Royal Festival Hall rather than the Albert Hall.