Tuesday, July 19, 2005

This thing called The Proms

In answer to Andrea, here's a quick explanation of the Proms.

'Proms' is short for BBC Promenade Concerts. It's an annual summer festival in central London at the Royal Albert Hall - reputedly the largest music festival in the world. This summer there are 74 concerts, which began last Friday and go on every day until mid September. 'Promenade' = standing. They take all the seats out of the stalls and pack in 'promenaders' - you can also stand in the gallery. Over 1400 standing places are available at every concert, sold on the door for £4. There are also plenty of seats for those who want them. But it's more fun to prom because the atmosphere is fantastic and the sound quality is best in the arena! It's top-quality stuff from beginning to end: the finest orchestras, conductors and soloists and plenty of interesting programming too. There's a whole promming subculture which is to do with etiquette inside, queuing, buying season tickets to the whole lot, etc etc. ... As it's a BBC festival, they broadcast absolutely everything on BBC Radio 3 and now that they have some digital TV channels quite a lot of the concerts also go out on BBC 4. The Last Night of the Proms is when we get the Sea Shanties, Rule Britannia, Land of Hope & Glory and Jerusalem - it's always a bone of contention for those who don't like its 'jingoistic' element, but anytime anyone talks about changing it there's an outcry (...long topic, will save it up for another time). The Proms were founded by the conductor Henry Wood 110 years ago and the Beeb took over in 1927.

Last night's Prom was a concert performance of Die Walkure with the team from the current Royal Opera House production: Antonio Pappano conducting, Waltraud Meier and Placido Domingo as Sieglinde and Siegmund, Lisa Gasteen as Brunnhilde and Bryn Terfel as Wotan. It doesn't get better than that and you could get in for £4. I regret to say I didn't hear it - because I was backstage, interviewing Domingo during Act III once his role was over!!!! :-)))

He's LOVELY...

Here's what The Indy has to say this morning.

The great news for me is that each Prom is now available to listen to online for 7 days after it takes place! Further details of how to do it here!

We'll do Desert Island Discs next time, Andrea. A British phenomenon, by the way, dating back to 1942 and originating on BBC Radio 4, and here they do 8 records, not 2.