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Something for classical music lovers

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TO PN BBC Proms

AP

Leonard Slatkin conducts the BBC Symphony Orchestra into a rousing rendition of \"Rule Britannia\", at the finale of The Last Night of the Proms at The Royal Albert Hall, London Saturday Sept. 14, 2002. (AP Photo/PA, Chris Young)

BBC LAST NIGHT OF THE PROMS

CONDUCTOR: Jirí Belohlávek

ORCHESTRA: BBC Symphony Orchestra

CLASSIFICATION: A

RUNNING TIME: 188 mintes

RATING:****

This particular concert is the biggest display of British flag-waving you will ever see, both literally and figuratively.

In the year London has hosted the Queen’s Jubilee, the Olympics and the Paralympics, the BBC Proms was pretty much the cultural highlight. The eight-week season of daily orchestral music concerts is centred around the Royal Albert Hall, and of course this last night is the absolute cherry on the cake.

Since 2009 this particular concert has been broadcast to cinemas around the world.

This Last Night concert influences many people’s perception of the entire season, but it is very different to the rest of the concerts. There are several traditions that have the be followed, but these are more along the lines of having a bit of fun than some stuffy rules no-one remembers originating.

The first half is the more serious music, with the concert starting with the premiere of a two-minute Mark Simpson piece entitled Sparks, dedicated to his mother.

Delius, Verdi, Massanet and Bruchs all put in an appearance - now, if you don’t realise those are long dead composers, this is not a film for you. It is meant for lovers of classical orchestral music - which this audience clearly consists of.

The 6000-strong audience is attentive and appreciative, especially of outgoing conductor Jirí Belohlávek and this year’s two soloists, Maltese tenor Joseph Calleja and Scottish violinist Nicola Benedette.

The bulk of the musical pieces which are performed are old favourites - hence the traditions that have sprung up around specific numbers.

The audience may have been quiet in the appropriate moments, but they have as much fun in the second half, with the party streamers and noisemakers. They whistle and hum along, and when the BBC Symphony Chorus launch into the second verse of God Save the Queen, there’s not a peep out of the audience, all standing at attention.

“I think you are too easily satisfied. It sounded like first rehearsal, so one more time,” says Belohlávek before he launches back into a reprise of Henry Wood’s Fantasia on British sea songs.

This only spurs the audience on to greater heights, with Calleja practically drowned out when he gets everyone to sing along to Rodgers and Hammerstein’s You’ll Never Walk Alone.

For the broadcast version host Katie Derham provides links between the various musical performances. We also see clips of the Hyde Park concert plus three other concerts around the British Isles which happened simultaneously.

The camera work is slick, with shots from the top back of the Royal Albert Hall showing you the gargantuan size of the venue. This filmed version of the concert is a much more intimate affair than attending the actual concert.

• BBC Last Night of the Proms only screens on Friday October 5 at 7.30pm; October 6 at 5pm; October 7 at 2.15pm and October 9 at 11.30am and 7.30pm at Ster Kinekor Nouveau.


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