qatsi (qatsi) wrote,

Prom 76

I haven't been to the Last Night since 2008, and so I wasn't sure whether much would have changed in the queueing system. As it turns out, it hadn't; and arriving around 1pm got me raffle ticket 245, just off the steps and onto Prince Consort Road, perhaps a little further back than I had hoped but within acceptable parameters. The "hopefuls" queue stretched across the road, which was longer than I have previously seen. There was the usual street party atmosphere, with Pimms and picnics; and passers-by asking what was going on. There were no problems with my flag - W, who was in the ballot for the first four rows and ended up at the front, said they only ban flagpoles at the front, so maybe I had previously been too far up the queue. Among other regional flags, I saw at least Cornwall, Devon, and Yorkshire through the afternoon and evening, along of course with those of many nations. I was standing next to someone with the Ghanaian flag (though he had it over his shoulders rather than on a pole). One of the second tier boxes proclaimed "Refugees welcome". One of the first tier boxes failed to grasp the meaning of the cry "Arena to First Tier Box: Are You In Distress?"

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.
Tags: music
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