If you didn’t know already, today marks the start of the 2018 BBC Proms festival – one of the world’s biggest and best-known classical music festivals. For eight weeks every year, London’s Royal Albert Hall plays host to the UK’s top musicians in order to celebrate the achievements of composers throughout the ages. It’s big, it’s bold, and it’s very, very British.
This year, the Proms will pay its respects to big-name classicists such as Bach and Bernstein, as well as a host of female composers, young musicians, and new music. The Royal Albert Hall will host 75 concerts, with 13 playing in Cadogan Hall and a further four Proms in the Park celebrations happening around the UK.
The Proms is an annual celebration that visitors to the UK may not be aware of. That’s why, this year, we wanted to bring the music to our readers. Let’s dive in and discover what makes The Proms such a remarkable event.
Why is it called The Proms?
The Proms was originally conceived by Robert Newman in 1895 as a way to bring the joy of music to people all around the UK. It was designed to bring the best music to the biggest possible audience. In order to do that, the original Henry Wood Promenade Concerts, as they were first called, were played along the promenade and allowed very cheap standing tickets. As the concerts became increasingly famous they came to be known simply as The Proms.
How big is it really?
The capacity of the Royal Albert Hall is 5272 seats. If we multiply that by the number of concerts this year then we get nearly 400,000 people that are able to attend in person. However, if we add on the TV audiences, The Proms is able to reach and inspire over fifteen million viewers. That’s an impressive number worthy of the philosophy behind the concerts.
What’s with The Last Night of the Proms?
Traditionally, the last night of any series of performances is supposed to be the best. Performers are the most practiced than they will ever be and won’t have to hold back a single drop of energy for the following night. Moreover, the last night is a chance to celebrate their accomplishments and look forward to some well-earned rest.
The Last Night of The Proms is particularly special in that it celebrates some of Britain’s best-loved pieces, including Land of Hope and Glory, Rule, Brittania! and Jerusalem. This inspires a lot of flag waving and a few audience members dressing up in red, white and blue.
So what’s on this year?
This year, The Proms is celebrating 100 years since the end of the First World War. There will be music from bright, young composer Anna Meridith and performances by the BBC Youth Ensemble and National Youth Choir of Great Britain. In celebration of Leonard Bernstein’s contributions to music, audiences will be treated to the very special ‘Sound of an Orchestra’ visual and musical event.
Can I go and see it?
Tickets for The Proms performances are available from the Royal Albert Hall website. Don’t forget that the BBC will be showcasing performances from The Proms throughout the season, culminating in the electric Last Night of The Proms on the 8th of September. Don’t miss out!
If music is your thing, don’t forget to take a look at our London Rock tour.