BUZZING: Guest performer David Helfgott glances up at the audience as he plays his encore piece Flight of the Bumblebee at the Afternoon at the Proms concert.
BUZZING: Guest performer David Helfgott glances up at the audience as he plays his encore piece Flight of the Bumblebee at the Afternoon at the Proms concert. Adam Hourigan

Helfgott stars at the Proms

INTERNATIONALLY renowned pianist David Helfgott got a little help from some new local musical friends to headline the annual Afternoon at the Proms concert on Sunday.

With a hug and a kind word for every musician backstage, Mr Helfgott played a piece with the Clarence Valley Orchestra, and solo works to a captivated full house at the Saraton Theatre, the audience rising from their seats after every performance.

"I think it's fantastic for Grafton to have an international artist play, and to have our local orchestra be able to play alongside is just wonderful,” concert director Greg Butcher said.

"It is rare to be able to have an orchestra and chorus of this size and quality in a regional area.”

Along with Mr Helfgott's headline performance, the orchestra and chorus played a range of music in a program arranged by Mr Butcher, including dramatic well-known works such as Khachaturian's Sabre Dance, Peter Allen's I Still Call Australia Home, and a specially written pizzicato strings work composed by Mr Butcher.

And it wouldn't be a Proms without the traditional end-of-show singalong and flag waving which sent the crowd out with a roar.

Mr Butcher said the proceeds from the annual concerts had raised more than $40,000 for the community, with the orchestra's next event a Christmas carols concert at Alumy Creek in December, as well as west at Inverell and Tenterfield.



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