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Sunday, 13 September 2009

A Stroll Along The Prom

This year’s season of Promenade Concerts ended yesterday evening, with the nowadays obligatory renditions of Rule Britannia, Jerusalem and of course Land of Hope and Glory. The programme in the Royal Albert Hall was accompanied by the recently established “Proms in the Park” events around the UK: tens of thousands of happy punters enjoyed a variety of music in fortunately excellent weather.

And all this was brought to us by the organisation that Murdoch Junior malevolently calls “chilling”. The BBC has been involved in the Proms since 1927, and without its unwavering support, it is hard to see how the public profile of the concerts could be maintained – as well as the broadcasts, which go out to many other countries, especially that from the Last Night.

The concerts are still officially called the “Henry Wood Promenade Concerts”, after the conductor who ruled over the Last Night for more than forty years. Wood championed much modern classical music, as well as giving his audiences a diet of established works: he introduced Edward Elgar’s first Pomp and Circumstance March (which we now know as Land of Hope and Glory) in 1901. The result, as Wood observed, was that the audience “simply rose and yelled”. He was unable to continue without acceding to the demand for an encore.

That encore has endured, as has Wood’s legacy, with the advocacy of the BBC. And it’s interesting to observe an increased level of public support for the Beeb, despite the attacks by Junior and the usual right leading members of the sneerati. I enjoy the Proms season each year, and hope it will be with us for many more.

That’s what I pay my licence fee for.

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