Tag Archives: Last Night of the Proms

Saturday night

I have held back on saying anything about the new Doctor Who. Not the man himself; I reckon Peter Capaldi will do as well as most of the others. And Clara remains Clara, whatever we think of her. But I’ve not been 100% sold on the first couple of episodes. OK if you want to watch something, but not stirring stuff.

Not that Doctor Who has to be all that special. It’s only a television programme, after all. But occasionally they start off with a gem, getting viewers excited, before it fizzles out. This time it took three tries before they got anywhere at all, but looking at social media I see most people found last night not terribly good.

Oh, well. We can’t all be the same.

Which brings me to the serendipitous moment we finished with the Doctor and ended up with Last Night of the Proms, Glasgow version. We joined just as Katherine Jenkins sang about a union, before going on to sing it was time to say goodbye. Both excellent songs. Neither of them on the programme by mistake, I imagine.

Ever the turncoat, I stayed on for the second half from Albert Hall, although reading a book at the same time, so as not to pay too much attention to south of the border. I do actually like those ‘contentious’ pieces of music, traditionally played at the end. Not because of what they supposedly stand for. They just sound good.

You can hijack anything for any purpose. I first heard Land of Hope and Glory on a television programme about the Empire, many years ago. I loved it. I had no idea what it stood for, and thought it was something they had arranged for the programme. I think that’s the thing about coming fresh to stuff. You have none of the emotional baggage people who were born to it do.

So I like Elgar, and not for any empire or union or political party or anything else. Nor do I believe Holst would have wanted to support the Yes campaign, but I see no reason not to use his music. It’s a wonderful piece, and the ‘coincidence’ was quite amusing.

As was Sakari Oramo as conductor. I thought this supposedly silent Finn would never stop talking! But his outfit was nice. And so was his smile at the end, as he watched his audience sing Auld Lang Syne.

Besides, Doctor Who is Scottish. And he’s not the first one, either.

And the conductor helped a bit

Can’t you just hear it? ‘You’ll have to go out there and give him a replacement mike.’ ‘Oops, you’ll have to go back out there again and give him another mike…’ That was one major microphone fail for Edward Gardner. He’d have been OK not having a speech for his first last night of the proms.

We’d had such a hectic day that we didn’t even know it was the last night until it was literally the last night. But at least there was no need to panic to find the time. We just sat down and enjoyed. (He looked awfully young, that Edward.)

Edward Gardner, Last Night of the Proms 2011

It seems Wales was too wet, but Dundee and Bangor made it, and there were a few people gathered in Hyde Park. We recognised the flags with a black lion on a yellow background, and remembered having looked them up before, but not what they were. Flanders, I gather.

I think I saw another Swedish ‘studentmössa’ somewhere in the front row of the prommers. It sort of goes with the promming style.

Daughter claimed not to know Climb Every Mountain, but I promised her she’d know it when she heard it. She did. We couldn’t quite decide where in the film it turns up. More than once, we reckon.

Jenny Agutter from that other bank holiday film was there, and so was Lang Lang on ‘keyboard’. Susan Bullock was busy singing and changing clothes. Her Britannia outfit was fetching, if somewhat unstable. She could have hit someone with that staff. But the blinking daffodil was fun.

When it was time for ‘the bouncy one’, Daughter vowed to bob up and down for the duration, but didn’t last. I suspect real prommers bounce regularly at home throughout the year to be sure to last the whole of Land of Hope and Glory, and a bit. At least we didn’t mumble our way through it.

Not so sure about the ‘no slaves’ part from Britannia. Things aren’t looking good for her.

Jerusalem went without a hitch, which was a relief after the microphone fail. Daughter kept cheating with her singing by finding the words on her phone. Unfortunately the first thing on google for the national anthem is the Sex Pistols. And the Resident IT Consultant claimed to have seen the Royal Standard in the audience, so can we safely assume the Queen was down on the floor with her subjects?

It would seem we have the same conversation every year. I say nothing can come after God Save the Queen, and Daughter says we get Auld Lang Syne. And we did. In other words, ‘same procedure as last year.’

and David Attenborough on floor polisher

‘Is this Rule Britannia?’ asked Daughter. Most of the time it was Händel and lots of fireworks all over the place. Very nice fireworks.

Once Rule Britannia was on, she did recognise it. One clue tends to be the outlandish garments. This year it was the Nelson look. Fun, but not necessarily the loveliest of styles on Sarah Connolly. She looked much more beautiful earlier on. The red dress was good. And much as I like Rule Britannia, I hate it sung by women. That’s not being sexist, I hope. There is something about it that makes me feel as if I’m suffocating and can’t get enough air. The Gershwin was good, and so was whatever it was Sarah sang while wearing the red dress. I wasn’t paying full attention to programme details at all times, I’m afraid.

Prom programme

And how can soloists be both good enough to play solo on live television like this, and be so pretty? I can’t have been the only one to forget about Alison Balsom’s trumpet playing. For the record I preferred her first dress to the second one.

The house cleaning music piece was not particularly enjoyable. If that’s supposed to be good, then it’s like Stravinsky to me. Can’t tell if David Attenborough was skilful with the floor polisher, but he was good at leaning this way and that.

It’s funny with conductors at these type of events. If they are new (to me) I feel suspicious of them, and then by the end I love them and think they should come every year. The Yank David Robertson did well. He was quite sweet, too, and looked so happy over Auld Lang Syne. He was funny for someone from California. (Sorry, that was un-called for.) Would have liked to hear more about his adverbs, however. Next time, maybe?