Friday, 9 September 2016
Proms Last Night 'a celebration of Britishness'?
Certainly not that, or rather not just that. The ghastly Bill Cash just reveals his ignorance by saying so. First, the Last Night is a celebratory party for everything that's gone before, all 74 Proms in the Albert Hall. Which began with Russians (Tchaikovsky and Prokofiev) and an international British master (Elgar) between them and has seen the visits of three outstanding German orchestras in the past week (below, Thielemann and the Staatskapelle Dresden - the image, ahem, is by Thielemann's approved photographer, Oliver Killig; thanks as ever to the wonderful Chris Christodoulou for the rest). It also includes French and Italian music in the finale, sung by a Peruvian tenor and conducted by a Finn.
Indeed, Sakari Oramo (pictured up top) donned a Union Jack waistcoat for the second half of a previous Last Night, and has championed British music, G&S included. But he's as splendid an example of international versatility as anyone who's appeared at this year's Proms.
Crowdfunding supporters have raised enough money for 500 EU flags to be distributed tomorrow night. Of course the disgusting, immigrant-persecuting Daily Mail and Express howl that it's a Corbynist conspiracy - unlikely given his own disappointing if not entirely unpredictable take on the EU - and the Brexiteers wail foul play. But it's our turn now after years of attack from the lunatic fringe.
I won't be there - as on every occasion for the past 10 or more years, we'll be walking for the Norfolk Churches Trust. I'm privileged enough to be admitted to a final rehearsal of the Verdi Requiem before we catch the train tonight; had to hear something of the great Tamara Wilson. If I have to pick my favourite Proms of the ones I've managed to attend, the internationalism speaks for itself: London-based Russian Pavel Kolesnikov with the National Youth Orchestra of Scotland conducted by Israeli Ilan Volkov in Tchaikovsky's Second Piano Concerto (pictured above), a Finnish diva (Karita Mattila) and a Czech conductor (Jiří Bělohlávek) leading a stupendous performance of Janáček's The Makropulos Case
and the Berlin Philharmonic conducted by 'our own' Simon Rattle in Mahler's Seventh Symphony. Oh, and if you want more Britishness, there was Mark Wigglesworth conducting Welsh forces (and American Wilson superb alongside UK soloists, having made her first partial and compelling test of the role of Brünnhilde) in Tippett's A Child of Our Time. No doubt which kind of flag Sir Michael would be waving tomorrow night.