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Proms seem madder than ever this year

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Human Planet (whatever that is), 'comedy', Hollywood - the Proms programming seems to be going the way of the dreadful Classic FM. What next, advertisements between movements? Bleeding chunk? Pop?

 

I'm appalled.

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Human Planet (whatever that is), 'comedy', Hollywood - the Proms programming seems to be going the way of the dreadful Classic FM. What next, advertisements between movements? Bleeding chunk? Pop?

 

I'm appalled.

 

 

A festival of music spread over 9 weeks including the music of 119 composers - whose output is spread over 6 centuries - featuring some of the world's great orchestras and soloists - with music to inspire little ones - a young composers concert - a poetry competition - a chance to sing some of the works being performed before you hear them - concerts of chamber music - lunchtime concerts - pre-concert talks! - as well as the usual 'pot boilers'

 

I think it's wonderful - my only gripe, I think, would be that the Havergal Brian 'Gothic' symphony was not televised - but, there again, staging a work like that took so many performers that there probably wasn't room for TV cameras!!

 

What is there to be appalled about?

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Ah! So it was you who caused tonight's broadcast to be cancelled! :D

 

The concert wasn't cancelled - it went ahead!

 

It was just taken off-air!

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Ah! So it was you who caused tonight's broadcast to be cancelled! :D

 

 

I never assumed the concert was cancelled! :P

 

 

I'm sorry - I must have mis-understood!

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A festival of music spread over 9 weeks including the music of 119 composers - whose output is spread over 6 centuries - featuring some of the world's great orchestras and soloists - with music to inspire little ones - a young composers concert - a poetry competition - a chance to sing some of the works being performed before you hear them - concerts of chamber music - lunchtime concerts - pre-concert talks! - as well as the usual 'pot boilers'

 

I think it's wonderful - my only gripe, I think, would be that the Havergal Brian 'Gothic' symphony was not televised - but, there again, staging a work like that took so many performers that there probably wasn't room for TV cameras!!

 

What is there to be appalled about?

 

 

The same could be stated for a plethora of similar events but the overall message is that in todays economic climate one has to adapt or else simply end up suffering the fate which came upon the dinosaurs,

 

Modern presentation certainly may not be to everyones taste and certainly some of the offerings may be a little, shall we say, challenging, but overall stuffy old Aunty Beeb has done quite a good job in trying to be all things to all people instead of pandering to the whims of a certain section of the community who enjoy wearing jackets of a tightly laced variety.

 

We only have to read the reviews of the reception of " The Rites of Spring " in order to see that such points of difference are not a contemporary phenomenon.

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The same could be stated for a plethora of similar events

 

 

Do you think so? - I wonder which events you are thinking about!

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Human Planet (whatever that is), 'comedy', Hollywood - the Proms programming seems to be going the way of the dreadful Classic FM. What next, advertisements between movements? Bleeding chunk? Pop?

 

I'm appalled.

Well, assuming that this post isn't satirical and also assuming for a moment one doesn't subscribe to the 'Frasier' attitude that the 'snob factor' is a positive boon, keeping 'classical' music (or wine, polo, skiing etc) reassuringly exclusive, I would subscribe to the Bernstein/Goodall attitude that music is music, particularly for a lengthy summer festival such as the BBC Proms, where entertainment value is important. Given that much 'classical' music these days incorporates styles and techniques pioneered by 'pop', I think it's a good thing that diversity is being championed. And if it gets bums on seats (in front of Mander's greatest rebuild) then perhaps budgets can be met and curiosity stirred.

 

Incidentally, I thought 2009's MGM Musicals Prom and the Dr Who proms among the most entertaining live events I've seen in years. Alas I missed this year's Comedy Prom but heard good reports.

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I'm not particularly against including music from films and musicals in the proms, nor comedy either, in principle. Hoffnung was always great fun and I'm sure some here will remember Peter Hurford's Albert Hall extravaganza in the 1960s. On the more general principle, however, given that the vast majority of the public prefers lighter forms of music to classical, I am not persuaded that the former needs any extra focus in the proms. It is already well catered for. Far from being exclusive, the original idea of the proms was to bring classical music to the masses in an affordable, non-stuffy form - hardly a "snob" agenda. I would be sorry if the BBC are diluting this vision - as it seems they are. There may be an economic reason for it; I have no idea whether box office takings are diminishing. Radio 3 seems to be going the same way. Is the BBC's dumbing down really encouraging more people to appreciate classical music? Or is the agenda actually the reverse - to broaden the taste of classical music lovers? Or am I missing the point altogether?

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Is broadening the taste of classical music lovers not also a good thing?

 

Paul

 

Whilst I would agree with you it still has to be said that " broadening the taste of " classical music "lovers " " is a bit of an anathema.

 

( I hope the site Grammar Police will pick up on my extended use of speech marks within speech marks. Just to overemphasise the point )

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Is broadening the taste of classical music lovers not also a good thing?

 

Paul

 

Whilst I would agree with you it still has to be said that " broadening the taste of " classical music "lovers " " is a bit of an anathema.

 

( I hope the site Grammar Police will pick up on my extended use of speech marks within speech marks. Just to overemphasise the point )

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I'm not quite sure what your point is; I simply reused the phrase I was responding to. Maybe some irony, too.

 

Mind you, I thoroughly dislike the terms "classical music" and "popular music", and I agree that perhaps it's a tad lazy just to go along with what's in general use.

 

Paul

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I think there have been some stunning concerts this year in the proms. The Simon Bolivar Symphony orchestra with Gustavo Dudamel performing Mahler 2, Heitink and Ax playing Brahms over two nights stand out in particular for me this year. This evening we've got Marc-Andre Hamlin on the piano (if you want to see an outstanding keyboard technique watch this concert) and David Goode premiering the Berkley organ concerto, which looks very promising. And Stephen Farr gave a superb solo recital premiering a new major work for organ. I'm pleased to see the organ being given good coverage, showcasing some of the best British organists and promoting new works for the instrument.

 

Personally I was slightly dissappointed to find TV coverage given to Spagetti Western Orchestra last Saturday - after the first piece I didn't feel there was enough music to sustain a whole concert - and the rest of the evening seemed to be more about sensationalism and I found myself getting rather bored. Great for a jazz joint, I felt, but it didn't really work in an arena like the RAH, or on my television. But I can understand the reasons why they televised it, even if it didn't appeal. But I could turn on the radio and listen to Mahler 6 live instead.

 

There have been some great children's concerts - watch Horrible Histories if you haven't already - the music in it is simply great (quite often done very tongue in cheek by people who clearly know a lot better) - and I think it's important for some of the concerts to be aimed at encouraging a new generation of audience goers. I've got friends who've taken their children to the Children's proms and the whole family have loved them - the parents said how brilliantly done they thought it was. And in such a large platform, where else are there the facilities to explore the strange and experimental in those late night concerts? So I think they've got the balence about right.

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And in such a large platform, where else are there the facilities to explore the strange and experimental in those late night concerts? So I think they've got the balence about right.

 

==============================

 

 

I am not easily impressed by alternative genres and experiments, but I vividly recall being tremendously impressed by the then relatively unknown 'Jimiroquai,' who went on to great things as I predicted he would.

 

Now I was tired and it was cold over the Bank Holiday weekend, but I'm awfully glad I chose to watch the "Comedy Prom."

 

I rightly anticipated the delights of the "Mongrels," and Tim Minchin is quite good at what he does. I thought the "mixed up" piano concerto was a tad contrived, (as it had to be), but there was one act which rocked me on my weary heels.

 

 

The name Darren Foreman may not mean much to anyone, but he is the "Beardyman" of 'beat-boxing' fame. While others use a very amateur combination of vocal and 'scratch record' sounds, Darren Foreman has not only mastered the most complex of digital electronic sampling and loop machines, he is the absolute virtuoso of vocal/instrumental imitation, which he performs in real-time.

 

I find the speed at which he thinks nothing short of phenomenal, and the way he does this so brilliantly in the company of other superb musicians, (who appear to appreciate his art), demonstrates, I think, his natural vocal and rhythmic genius.

 

It may not be my generation or what I would ever have considered previously, but I was genuinely impressed by this very talented young man.

 

For those who may have missed the 'Comedy Prom,' here is the man himself and 'the Mongrels' in action.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LmmOhsFmzYs

 

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cJqE0BcEwVo...feature=related

 

MM

 

 

Oh dear! They've killed off the Beardyman video on YouTube! Copyright issues apparently.

 

Well, not to miss the talent of "Beardyman," here is a sample of his work, but unfortunately, not in the context of the Comedy Prom and without reference to classical music. Instead, he creates live, a cover version of a "Mumbai Cells" track of Indian origin. I don't understand it, but it's just incredible.

 

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... Alas I missed this year's Comedy Prom but heard good reports.

I am not sure about that - I recorded it and tried to watch it twice later. Each time (attempting a different part) I felt that it was self-conscious, not particularly amusing* - and that it appeared not to khow where to pitch the level of humour.

 

I have often enjoyed Tim Minchin's own shows but felt on this occasion that he missed the mark. I am also nonplussed as to why, at one point, he bothered to sit at the organ console and play several loud chords, whilst talking over the top. The relevance/humour of this moment passed me by, I am afraid.

 

As for Reizenstein’s Concerto Popolare, it was probably amusing for those hearing it for the first time.

 

There were several other acts, some were perhaps more successful than others; see http://www.spectator.co.uk/arts-and-cultur...usic-hall.thtml, for a review.

 

However, on the strength of this, I shall not be applying for a ticket if there is a similar event next year.

 

 

 

* I thought that the 'kid with tape over his mouth' (or whatever he was called) was somewhat pathetic - and not remotely funny.

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I am not sure about that - I recorded it and tried to watch it twice later. Each time (attempting a different part) I felt that it was self-conscious, not particularly amusing* - and that it appeared not to khow where to pitch the level of humour.

 

I have often enjoyed Tim Minchin's own shows but felt on this occasion that he missed the mark. I am also nonplussed as to why, at one point, he bothered to sit at the organ console and play several loud chords, whilst talking over the top. The relevance/humour of this moment passed me by, I am afraid.

 

As for Reizenstein's Concerto Popolare, it was probably amusing for those hearing it for the first time.

 

There were several other acts, some were perhaps more successful than others; see http://www.spectator.co.uk/arts-and-cultur...usic-hall.thtml, for a review.

 

However, on the strength of this, I shall not be applying for a ticket if there is a similar event next year.

 

 

 

* I thought that the 'kid with tape over his mouth' (or whatever he was called) was somewhat pathetic - and not remotely funny.

 

 

=================================

 

 

I wasn't terribly impressed by the "Spectator" review of the comedy prom, but that apart, the humour was a bit iffy, I have to say.

 

I don't wish to harp on about "Beardyman," but there was an interesting sequel, due to the fact that I managed to get the video clip downloaded from "Youtube" before it was taken down.

 

A 14 year old lad who lives a few doors away bobbed in to say hello, and I asked him if he'd ever heard of "Beardyman." He hadn't, so he sat on the chair arm next to me and I put the video on for him to watch and listen.

 

That kid just exploded into life as he watched, and I tried to explain what "Beardyman" was doing and how he was building up layers of music on the loop and then adding all the percussion sounds. Without realising it, I gave him quite a complex lesson in music, and this kid was just mesmerised. He asked me lots of questions and even tried to imitate the effects and vocals.

 

The fact that it had such an extraordinary impact on this boy, reminded me that we have to sometimes bridge not just a cultural gap and an age gap, but a technology gap as well, and for a brief moment, I was delighted to have achieved all three.

 

If the "comedy prom" was designed to reach new potential audiences, I'm fairly certain that it did.

 

MM

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Where was the Fantasia on British Sea Songs, my favourite?

 

This isn't something to do with Brussels, is it?

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Where was the Fantasia on British Sea Songs, my favourite?

 

This isn't something to do with Brussels, is it?

 

 

My God! What is the world coming to?????

 

Anyone want a copy of my organ transcription?

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Too much twiddling with the running order, the soprano's battery-operated outfit didn't live up to expectations (I'm sure a bit more pop + streamers from her lance could have been managed without endangering life, limb and eardrums) and the sound engineering was a disaster during the conductor's speech.

 

Didn't mind missing the Sea Songs, though, and Lang Lang was wonderful.

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Where was the Fantasia on British Sea Songs, my favourite?

 

This isn't something to do with Brussels, is it?

 

 

===============================

 

 

Like all institurions, there will always be those who want to take a pop at them to make their mark.

 

The irony is, that the second half of the last-night has always been the "audience night," when all sorts of mayhem and unrehearsed comedy can occur. It's the ONLY time this happens, unless you have a Comedy Prom which falls short of being good comedy.

 

The soprano was over-acting and over-singing "Rule Brittannia," the sound was fairly dreadful in parts and we didn't even get the repeat of "Jerusalem" with additional organ power. I didn't miss the "Sea Songs," but I've always enjoyed the moment when they pass around the handkerchiefs for the 'Cello solo, and then start to do the "Hornpipe" linked together.

 

Music can indeed unite, but I'm sure opinions of the last night will be very divided.

 

I've never much enjoyed the New Year concert from Vienna, but for those who do, why should anyone wish to change it?

If they did, I can't imagine it would convert me in any way.

 

The more I see of things, the more I begin to think that we are in the grip of those who want to tell us what to do and give us what they think is best for us.

 

It's like those "Wayside Pulpits" of old, where the same people have discovered the joys of roadsigns.

 

"Prepare ye the way" - "Have you checked your tyres?"

 

"Seek an ye shall find" - "Follow diversion signs"

 

"Have you seen the light?" - Use dipped headlights

 

"Are you full of the spirit?" - Last petrol for 20 miles

 

Nannies, ninnies or just good old fashioned control freaks, I'm sick of them!

 

MM

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Too much twiddling with the running order, the soprano's battery-operated outfit didn't live up to expectations (I'm sure a bit more pop + streamers from her lance could have been managed without endangering life, limb and eardrums) and the sound engineering was a disaster during the conductor's speech.

 

Didn't mind missing the Sea Songs, though, and Lang Lang was wonderful.

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Because I was working I tried to record Last night of the Proms, because I particuarly enjoy Rule Britannia. Land Of Hope and Glory and Jerusalem in the hope that I can hear the organ (not always easy).

Because the BBC mess about between BBC 1 and 2 and because I also wanted to record Match of the Day, I managed to only catch the the end of Jerusalem.

Very disappointed but I hope the Last night was up to its normal standard. I will now have to wait until next year.

Colin Richell.

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Very disappointed but I hope the Last night was up to its normal standard. I will now have to wait until next year.

Colin Richell.

 

 

Just watch it on BBC iPlayer.........

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