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Last Night of the Proms mcdade
Mon Sep 17 2001 13:11
As many of you may be aware the traditional programme of this annual jamboree was altered this year out of respect for those killed in the terrorist attacks in the US. Replacing the usual jongoistic stuff were Barber's Adagio and the finale of the Choral Symphony.

This replacement has ruffled some feathers over here - many believing that the traditional flagfest would have been an even more appropriate gesture of solidarity.

I do have my own views on this topic but thought I'd throw it open for comment before launching in.
re: Last Night of the Proms Saxon
Tue Sep 18 2001 08:46
I agree with some of that - at least I did until I heard Jerusalem sung at the end of Saturday night's concert. In recent years the music played in the second half of Last Night has lost its point: it's hard to distance oneself from the fact that Britain is no longer great, yet the anthems sung clearly celebrate past times of Empirical might.

However, I have never heard Jerusalem sung with such intensity and meaning as it was on Saturday night. It was astounding. And that, more than any of the sobriety that preceded it, said buckets about our determination to stand beside the Yanks.

A musical raised fist, if you like. Incredible.
re: Last Night of the Proms mcdade
Wed Sep 19 2001 09:27
Was I the only one who picked up the irony of the words of William Blake being sung in this context? A thorough going revolutionary if ever there was one and an enthustiastic advocate of violence as means to an end.
re: Last Night of the Proms Julian Thake
Sat Sep 22 2001 11:03
I have to say I've never been able to see the Last Night as genuinely jingoistic. To fit that description it would have to involve the Last Nighters actually meaning the words of "Rule Britannia" and "Land of Hope and Glory", which - having been among them once and watched and listened countless other times - I don't believe of the great majority of them for one minute. If anything there's always seemed to me to be a faint air of mickey-taking about the whole thing. Nor was there, in my view, ever any suggestion otherwise until Mark Elder set that particular hare running with his doubtless (by his own lights) principled but, in my view, misjudged action some years ago. I retain my confidence in the fundamental good sense of the overwhelming majority of Promenaders - more and more of whom aren't even British any longer - and so my own preference would firmly be to make a point of returning to the traditional format next year, to emphasise that life goes on.
re: Last Night of the Proms mcdade
Thu Sep 27 2001 09:00
Widening this discussion a little bit from the immediate circumstances surrounding this enforced change in programme to look at the Last Night as an institution, can I ask 2 things: firstly, are the people who make up the vast bulk of the audience at the Last Night really the people who attend the rest of Proms?; and secondly, doesn't the rather upper class twit of the year jolliness (sorry, it's how I feel!) a terrible advert for the marvellous musical festival that precedes it?

My personal view is that they should rack up the ticket prices as high as they can and plough the money back into the rest of the Proms - indeed why not have a dozen last nights and make the Proms self-financing - just so long as there is no link between the Last Night and the main proms. I have lost count of the number of people who, on being told I am off to a Prom, assume I am going to flagwave and lark about. And let's not forget that in Britain at least it is the single most high profile classical music event - bar none.
re: Last Night of the Proms Julian Thake
Thu Sep 27 2001 20:38
Hello again!

I do know what you mean. If I'm honest I have to admit that my one and only trip to the Last Night (as a postgrad, a LONG time ago!) was with a group of students who mainly couldn't have given a flying fig for the music, and were just there for a good time of a far more general stamp.

However, while I totally respect your view I find it hard, even now, to mind the fact that for them the music was a peg on which to hang some general larking-around. The programme was/is scarcely one to evoke reverence, and who knows if it lit a spark in any of them for later on? As for me, a serious fan of serious music then as now, I enjoyed myself musically at least as much as otherwise (though perhaps that's an indictment of how easily I can be satisfied!). Indeed it was no sort of advert for the great season preceding it, but does it have to be? As for those who have altogether the wrong idea about how you'll be spending your evening at a Prom, invite them along next time!

You know I'm totally with you on the benighted anti-phenomenon of "crossover". I don't think music should be prostituted in that way at all. I can't quite see the Last Night in the same terms, though. The Vanessa-Maes and Bonds of this world arrogate to essentially empty nonsense a bogus air of quality and stature. The Last Night is a chance for real music and musicians to let their hair down - if they still have any!

Best wishes,

Julian Thake

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