The British are coming
Rule Britannia at ‘Last Night of the Proms’
Break out the Union Jacks and noisemakers. It’s time for the Brott Music Festival’s “Last Night of the Proms.”
As the title suggests, Boris Brott and company are modelling their concert on Saturday, July 29, at 7:30 p.m. after the BBC’s traditional “Last Night of the Proms” season finale in London’s Royal Albert Hall. Those can be rather exuberant affairs with fluttering flags and loads of levity as Prommers decked out in dinner jackets or true-blue red, white and blue make merry with sonorous singing and convivial clapping.
And Brott wants much the same atmosphere so that local longhairs can let down their hair.
“We want this to be as much like the traditional ‘Last Night’ as possible,” wrote Brott in an email to The Spectator. “Clapping, appropriate noisemaking — all encouraged. The National Academy Orchestra will be decked out in British colours. We are sourcing Union Jacks for purchase. If the audience has them, please bring them, of course. Since we are multicultural in Canada, and it’s our 150th, all flags are encouraged.”
And would you like to guess where Brott’s “Last Night” will be held?
Mohawk College’s McIntyre Performing Arts Centre? Nope. Guess again. The Burlington Performing Arts Centre? Strike two. Need a hint? It’s Hamilton’s première venue for orchestral concerts with seating for upwards of 2,000 souls.
Hamilton Place, er, FirstOntario Concert Hall? Bingo. Yup. Brott and company are returning to that august venue after a hiatus of something like seven years. The BMF’s choice of FO Concert Hall for this and two further concerts, one in August the other in September, means one thing: go big, or go home. Or as the Brits might put it, the full monty.
Now, we know what you’re thinking, er, besides the full monty. It’s that even though FO Concert Hall is the bee’s knees, it doesn’t have an arena or a gallery like the Royal Albert Hall. And that means one thing: Brott’s Prommers have no hope of hopping-on-the-spot to the music like the Prommers do in London Town.
“The audience will have seats,” wrote Brott. “No place at Hamilton Place to replicate Albert Hall with a standing room ring.” “Fiddle sticks,” you say? Chill. Apart from the no hopping part, everything should be ticketyboo since the BMF’s bill replicates the feel of the traditional “Last Night” bill with feel-good fare followed by patriotic pieces or jingoistic jingles, if you prefer.
So, Brott and the NAO are scheduled to open with one of British composer Benjamin Britten’s best known works, “A Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra.” It was written in 1945 for the 1946 educational film, “Instruments of the Orchestra,” performed by the London Symphony Orchestra under Sir Malcolm (Flash Harry) Sargent, who, with carnation firmly planted in buttonhole, conducted the BBC’s “Last Night” concerts from 1947 until 1966.
Thereafter, it’s bits ’n bobs from Gilbert and Sullivan, colloquially referred to in the biz as G&S. On tap are the “Overture to The Pirates of Penzance” followed by “The MajorGeneral’s Song” sung by tenor David Curry, and “Poor Wandering One” with soprano Lauren Margison. Plus, there’ll be selections from “The Mikado” including the “Overture” and “A Wand’ring Minstrel I” among others. After intermission, it’s time for the “Last Night’s” eternal perennials to bloom yet again with Sir Edward Elgar’s “Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1 — Land of Hope and Glory,” Sir Henry Wood’s “Fantasia on British SeaSongs,” Thomas Arne’s “Rule, Britannia!” and Sir Hubert Parry’s “Jerusalem.” Rounding out the bill will be Alexander Brott’s arrangements of “O Canada” and “God Save the Queen.”
Tickets: $44, senior $38, Brott35 $25, student $15. Call 905-525-7664.
The BMF’s World’s Best Chamber Music series runs on Wednesday, July 26 at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. as NAO apprentices perform works by Elgar, Gounod, Grieg, and others in The Church of St. John the Evangelist, 320 Charlton Ave. W. Admission: $12.
Leonard Turnevicius writes about classical music for The Hamilton Spectator. email@example.com
Lauren Marigson returns to the Brott Music Festival to sing selections by Gilbert and Sullivan in the "Last Night of the Proms."