Last Night of the Proms

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Television - Justin Burke

Sun­day, 8.40pm, BBC UKTV The mayor of Lon­don, Boris John­son, wrote dur­ing his re­cent visit to Aus­tralia, that ‘‘ we Bri­tish are more deeply con­nected with the Aus­tralians — cul­tur­ally and emo­tion­ally — than with any other coun­try on earth’’. While his sen­ti­ments were un­doubt­edly heart­felt, af­ter watch­ing the BBC’s Last Night of the Proms, you may be ques­tion­ing their ve­rac­ity. The Proms — short for prom­e­nade con­cert — is the fi­nale of an eight week sum­mer sea­son of clas­si­cal mu­sic con­certs at the Royal Al­bert Hall in Lon­don. They have been held since 1895, and are con­sid­ered one of the world’s great clas­si­cal mu­sic fes­ti­vals. How­ever, dur­ing 31/ hours on the fi­nal night, mem­bers of the au­di­ence, fes­tooned with Union Jack hats, flags and para­pher­na­lia, are given to in­creas­ingly ec­cen­tric dis­plays of pa­tri­o­tism. As the pro­gram reaches its cli­max with Rule, Bri­tan­nia!, El­gar’s Land of Hope and Glory, topped off with God Save the Queen, Bri­tish re­serve is aban­doned in favour of a mass sin­ga­long. It de­liv­ers chills up the spine and side-split­ting mirth in equal mea­sure. It may be go­ing too far to com­pare this to the Euro­vi­sion Song Con­test, as the qual­ity of the mu­sic is se­ri­ous busi­ness. But in this re­spect it is iden­ti­cal: I wouldn’t miss it for any­thing.

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