Last Night Of The Proms 2012

September 8, 2012 by  

Last Night Of The Proms 2012, Every summer, thousands of music fans from around the world walk up Exhibition Road from South Kensington tube station to the biggest classical music festival in the world: the BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall – 76 concerts culminating in its all-British, flag-waving finale. But with the Last Night of the Proms looming, how does this energy feed into the main 2012/13 music season?

The Proms, founded by Robert Newman in 1895, is an eight-week festival of world class music-making that sits rather comfortably in the centre of a summer of festivals. As London’s concert halls and opera houses reduce their programming, classical music and opera moves to country houses, city parks, the Edinburgh festival and the Royal Albert Hall, where the Proms took up residency in 1941 after the Queen’s Hall was bombed by German planes in the height of the second world war.

The Proms receive more coverage then any other classical music venture in the city, with all 76 concerts broadcast live on BBC Radio 3 and a further 26 proms broadcast on television, including the famous Last Night, which draws an audience of millions worldwide. But what about the rest of the season? Come late September, will those same audiences be flocking to other concert halls and venues?

There’s no escaping the fact the Proms offers a totally unique experience: the ‘Prommers’ pit, filled with excited regulars and newbies alike, offers the best acoustic in the Albert Hall at a mere £5, effectively extinguishing all signs of snobbery you might encounter in the average London concert hall. The £47 top-price ticket, thanks to BBC arts subsidies, also helps to improve access. Musicians often remark on how enjoyable the proms experience is; that a proms audience is somehow special.

When Daniel Barenboim addressed one of those audiences on the last night of his Beethoven Cycle series this year, the conductor expressed his gratitude to the BBC for giving him the opportunity of performing all the Beethoven symphonies for global ears. “Ladies and gentlemen, let me tell you,” he told the throng, “we travel a lot, and there is no country in the world that would do this for music and for culture.”

Barenboim, whose association with London audiences goes back a long way, is right. London is a classical music centre like no other, with more than 10 professional orchestras, two world-class opera companies, 12 concert halls and a season that spans the whole calendar year.

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