Heron Island, Great Barrier Reef, Australia

Friday 18 July 2008

"Hooray hooray hooray....

Misery's on the way!" (Noel Coward, if you don't already know, at a previous time of endless gloom-and-doom stories in the newspapers). But there's no misery in this house. I may be a smug old baby-boomer with a paid-off mortgage and a reasonably reliable pension scheme (because I suppose that's what I am), but even on a damp grey evening, there is plenty to look forward to. A fortnight in Paris soon, for one thing, but more immediately...

The Proms start today: 84 concerts over the next eight weeks, covering not quite everything, but enough to justify the BBC licence fee on their own, in my view.

I suppose I will find a few things to huff and puff about. No doubt the televised concerts will again have irritating celebrity interviews and embarrassing quizzes in the interval to persuade us all how classical music can be the thing for cool people (as if the people watching needed persuading). Fortunately, on TV and radio, you're not aware of the more self-important and jealously-guarded "traditions" of the long-standing Prommers (and the less said about the Last Night, the better). I suspect my shiny new TV will provide even more detailed evidence to justify founding a Committee to Buy Charles Hazlewood a Razor.

But every year there are predictable wonders and wonderful surprises. Over the years, I think of Renée Fleming's Four Last Songs, the Cleveland Symphony under Maris Janssons, Placido Domingo's Wagner début, the National Youth Orchestra's performance of Messiaen's Turangalila (I thought I'd hate it, but no) - I could go on. Last year, the highlight of the opening concerts, for me, was the Buskaid group from Soweto (French Baroque with Zulu gumboot dancing - it worked, trust me); and just about everyone is still buzzing about the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra from Venezuela. How can one not be excited that all this is available (that might explain why the audiences tend to be generous with their applause)? Who knows, I might even take myself halfway across London to see a concert in person.

This was just one of the Bolivarians' encore pieces last year - a reprise of part of Bernstein's West Side Story suite (there are other clips of the concert on Youtube, so you can see what built up the audience's rapturous enthusiasm):

No comments:

Post a Comment