Last Night At The Proms
Flag Waving, Whistle Blowing, singalong fun for everyone
Last Night At The Proms Weston Super Mare Playhouse
THE Last Night of the Proms has become one of the great British musical traditions, there is nothing quite like it in the classical calendar.
With their Last Night At The Proms concert, the British Philharmonic Concert Orchestra, under conductor Anthony Kraus and presenter Mark Langley, gave us most of the familiar favourites performed with all the traditional gusto, the pomp and circumstance, and a veritable forest of Union Jacks.
The enterprising and very varied program had a tiptoe start with a less familiar Rossini overture ( Italian Girl in Algiers) which brought out some delightful woodwind playing.
Some of the brass section were less secure and seemed over-stretched, particularly in the Elgar marches, but the overall balance from the orchestra sounded well in the warm acoustics of the Playhouse.
The music included in the programme was not just of the home-grown jingoistic variety – there was a dash of Gershwin and Cole Porter and a generous helping of Italian opera. Some light classics attracted a murmured ripple of recognition as theme tunes from old radio shows.
Soloists Gillene Butterfield and Andrew Forbes Lane had the witty personalities needed to engage the audience – their vocal duets of a well-chosen medley of Abba songs and music from Oliver! were very well-received.
For their part the audience could hum along to the Dambusters March, whistle and clap along in traditional style to Sir Henry Wood’s Sailor’s Hornpipe. In contrast, an impressive performance of Nimrod, with spoken words from Richard II, was heard in rapt silence.
Purists might argue that it is dumbing down classical music to mix it with modern pop and include stories, recitations and jokes (however old) between the pieces, but if this imaginative programming attracts a wider audience, that can only be a good thing. A great tune will always be a great tune whether from a 19th century opera (La Donna e Mobile in Rigoletto) or a 20th century show (Oliver!).
The less formal atmosphere made this more of a fun concert show, ideal for a summer holiday evening at the seaside.