It seems to be a matter of policy that the BBC commissions a new work for the Last Night, and Eleanor Alberga's Arise, Athena! was a good opening to the concert. You know you're getting old when Proms soloists seem younger; and Benjamin Grosvenor produced a sparkling performance of Shostakovich's Piano Concerto No. 2. Pärt's Credo was, to my ear, not the most successful piece of the evening - although the excerpted and adapted Bach was cleverly done, I think he has written better. After Strauss' Till Eulenspiegel, we were clearly heading into party time with four excerpts from Puccini, three of them with Jonas Kaufmann, ending the first half with Nessum Dorma. It was time to break out the flag.
The second half began with quite a jazzy and big band feel; I particularly liked James P Johnson's Victory Stride. The first audience participation came with Copland's I bought me a cat - made technically challenging, by asking different audiences to sing different verses. There were a few more bits and pieces, then Rodgers/Hazell's The Sound of Music medley, which mostly worked well - though I would have left Edelweiss to Danielle de Niese rather than have the audience join in. Presumably Mr Corbyn wasn't joining in at home for Land of Hope and Glory or the other favourites. Marin Alsop's speech was short and to the point, and the programme was well worth buying for the words to the second verse of the National Anthem alone. The Last Night is usually carefully time-managed, and we finished promptly, so I caught my expected train home and avoided the dread rail replacement bus service that was running later.