September 5, 2013

It’s a GIRL!

One of the items on my life list is to attend The Last Night at the Proms. If you don’t know, The Proms is a summer-long, nation-wide series of musical programs held throughout the UK. The name comes from promenade concerts, which were held in parks, and the patrons were free to walk about, or promenade. The 100+ concerts range from serious classical music to a Dr. Who Prom. The concerts are held over an eight-week period and are nightly at the Royal Albert Hall in London. image

The Last Night at the Proms is telecast and celebrated in Scotland, Wales, England and Northern Island, with the broadcast moving between the parks, although mostly focusing on the Royal Albert Hall. This year’s Last Night in Wales will be at a place I know well, Caerphilly Castle, or more specifically, Owain Glyndŵr Playing Fields.imageFrequently, the Proms are topical – in 2006, the 250th anniversary of Mozart’s birth, much of his music was featured. In 2001, the Last Night at the Proms, usually a joyous and festive occasion, was held just four days after the attacks on September 11th, and featured Barber’s Adagio for Strings, a piece of music that will make you weep (and weak) from the sheer sadness of it. In an odd twist of fate, the conductor that night was an American, Leonard Slatkin. He and the musicians, along with the audiences around the UK, look absolutely shattered.

The first half of the Last Night of the Proms features a variety of composers and musical compositions, but the second half is a series of set pieces. Those include Edward Elgar’s Pomp & Circumstance, Hope & Glory, more well-known as the Graduation song, as well as Henry Wood’s Fantasia on British Sea Songs. Rule Britannia is also another piece that’s always included. The concert concludes with Hubert Parry's Jerusalem (a setting of a poem by William Blake), and the British national anthem. Auld Lang Syne is also included, and oddly, so is the song, You’ll Never Walk Alone from the musical, Carousel. (Click links to hear the songs referenced)

Now, what’s this all got to do with a girl? Well, the girl in question is the first woman to conduct The Last Night at the Proms, Marin Alsop, who is also the conductor of our own Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. image

She’s an incredibly accomplished woman, winner of a MacArthur Fellowship (the first conductor to receive one!), founder of the Orch-Kids (teaching inner city children about music) and a graduate of Yale and Julliard. That she’s been awarded this plum role is a huge credit to her! We’re so pleased.

The BBC Last Night of the Proms will be broadcast on Saturday, September 7, 2013 at 7:30 p.m. GMT. You can access the BBC through various services including my personal favourite, Tunnelbear.com. It basically changes your IP address to a UK one, so you can access BBC and other UK television programs. Very handy for watching episodes of Downton Abbey before anyone else!

18 comments:

  1. Wow! I think this is an item for my bucket list. I want to go to the V&A and now the Prom, and I bought the first 3 seasons of Downton Abbey for myself. Thanks for the virtual trip.

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    1. Either this or the Festival of Nine Lessons & Carols at Cambridge on Christmas eve!

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  2. I assume you meant to refer to Northern Ireland (not Northern Island) when mentioning the telecast coverage in the UK!

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    1. HA! Autocorrect? My error! That's funny.

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  3. Summer of 1992 when I was working in London I had a half-season ticket for the promenade (floor). Doing so, made me eligible to be there for the last night. I got in the queue at 5:45 am and was about 212 on the list. That year Kiri Te Kanawa was the soloist and I was about five rows back. Her first gown was a beautiful fuchsia number and her second was redolent of the New Zealand flag. It was a lot of fun. Which actually kind of mars some of the more serious musical moments. Lots of prommers trying very hard to be humorous.

    I would love to be at King's for the 9 lessons. Similarly, I would love to be at Ely Cathedral at Christmas where they put one of the boy sopranos high up in the lantern of the cathedral to sing the first lines of Once in Royal David's City.

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  4. As for your central premise...I am glad that a Maestra is finally getting a shot at conducting the last night. She is fabulous choice.

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  5. You hit it out of the ballpark with this post and links to the performances. Now I know the words to---- Land of Hope and Glory-- Mother of the free --how shall we extoll thee --Who are born of thee....Wider still and wider -shall thou bounds be set - God who made me mighty-- make me mightier yet

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    1. I love that song. I remember the first time I heard all the words... at a Son et Lumiere in Tewkesbury where they projected images on the massive abbey wall and played this song...

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  6. thanks for the link + wonderful post + congratulations to m alsop. xxpeggybraswelldesign.com

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  7. At least one of The Last Night of the Proms has been broadcast on PBS; that's how I first learned of the much-loved tradition. It's on my Bucket List, too.

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  8. Meg, have you ever heard the choral version of Barber's Adagio for Strings? The text is the Agnus Dei (Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world). I sang it in my college choir, and every time I hear that piece it stops me in my tracks. Here's the Choir of Trinity College, Cambridge performing it in a YouTube clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mxtl89aLJDA

    Thanks for the heads-up. I get the BBC on Sirius satellite radio, so now I have two days to figure out when they will be airing the program and how to schedule one of my electronic gadgets to record it!

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    1. I will have to listen to it when I am in the mood for a good cry!

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  9. i just wanted to thank you so much for your sweet comment!!! we are both going on our 8th year now? unreal!!

    Joni

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  10. When I lived in London, to attend The Proms was always on my "to do" list that never happened to get done. I must inform you that Marin Aslop just moved, over the summer, to Rolland Park. She is my block neighbor and I am just dying to be back to Baltimore and drop by with some pao de queijo, a brazilian cheese balls bread style, and have some small talk about Sao Paulo where she is, since last year, the principal conductor of the Sao Paulo State Symphony.

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