The Proms and its famous performers

The Proms are a series of orchestral classical music performances that are held in London over an eight-week period in the summer. Most of the concerts are performed in the Royal Albert Hall and the season ends with the “last night of the proms” which is televised live around the world.

The tickets for the “last night of the proms” are so highly sort after than there are numerous parties organized around the country where big screens are erected, and people can gather and listen to the music. The final night, which is usually the second night in September, always culminates with certain favorite pieces being played and the event turns into a celebration of British pride and culture. Each year the performances change, with there being a theme for each event. The top orchestras, conductors and performers from around attend the event and it is always a great honor to play at the last night.

Sir Henry Wood who performed for over 50 years at the Proms

The end of the evening always includes Elgar’s “Pomp and Circumstance”, Henry Woods “Fantasia on British Sea Songs”, Hubert Parry’s “Jerusalem” and the British National Anthem. The occasion is a fine spectacle and attracts an audience of many different nationalities. There is always much flag waving and it is a real coming together for music lovers from all around the world. The event first started in 1895 in the Queens Hall. There had been garden concerts being performed during London’s summers since the 1830s, but it was the vision of Robert Newman to make classical music concerts affordable to a wider audience.

He first employed the services of 26-year-old Henry Wood who built the “Queens Hall Orchestra” to perform solely for the prom concerts. Wood remained the conductor until his last performance in 1944 turning down luxuriate offers to perform overseas in order to concentrate on British classical music.

Sir Henry is remembered through the Proms, as they are sometimes called “the Henry Wood Promenade Concerts”. Each season the concerts are overlooked by a bronze bust of Wood that is on display in the Royal Albert Hall. Since Wood’s death, there have been a variety of conductors who have led the orchestras. They bring their own style and often combine with world famous performers to produce outstanding performances.

Bryn Terfil and his own style

During the summer months, the star performers are the instrumentalists with concerts being filled by audiences who have come to watch the best musicians in the world. However, when the last night arrives, it is the vocalists who invariably take centre stage with the conductors.

One of the most memorable performances was by the Welsh bass-baritone opera singer Bryn Terfel who led the singing in 1994 with Sir Andrew Davies as the conductor. Terfel performed with a welsh theme. Armed with a rugby shirt, a rugby ball, a toy sheep and a leek he roused the audience to fever pitch, even singing Rule Britannia in Welsh.

This performance very much typified the mood of the Proms. It is about bringing classical music to the ordinary citizen and making it popular. Often ticket prices scare away the average fan but during the Proms the cost of entry is greatly reduced. Maybe this is why that the Proms are popularly regarded as the best music festival in the world.

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