First Night of the Proms
Today was First Night of the Proms at the BBC Proms, aka The World’s Greatest Classical Music Festival. It runs every summer for eight weeks until Last Night of the Proms in September.
The festival was founded in 1895 when a fellow named Robert Newman, then manager of the Queen’s Hall, decided to start a music festival. He told the conductor he hired, Sir Henry Wood, that he planned to train the public to listen to, and thereby create the demand for, classical and modern music. (I just love (love!) that mentality ― “If you build it, they will come.”)
The Queen’s Hall was destroyed in 1941 during the Blitz, and so the Proms were moved to Royal Albert Hall. If you’ve ever been inside Royal Albert Hall, then you know what a spectacular concert hall it is. I’ve been to two concerts there: one of Van Morrison and, a few years later, one of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra playing Elgar, accompanied by Julian Lloyd Webber (yes, brother to that Lloyd Webber) on the cello.
Both concerts only whetted my appetite for more, so one of these years, I’ve promised myself, I plan to spend the summer “promming”* in London. Until then, I content myself with listening to the concerts on BBC Radio 3 via the Internet.
*Promming is when you queue up for the £5 ticket that gives you access to the standing areas in the arena (directly in front of the stage) or up in the gallery. They’re cheaper than the reserved seats, but there is a catch: you stand for the entire concert.