There really couldn’t have been a more fitting climax to the 2012 BBC Proms season. The past eight weeks of world-class music have spanned everything from Beethoven to Broadway; following hard upon the patriotic fervour of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee; running concurrently with the agonies and ecstasies of the Olympic and Paralympic Games. It has been a summer unlike any other – and Roger Wright, BBC Proms Director, knew he had to pull something special out of the bag to complement the national mood rather than try to top the bill.
And he did it. The programme was eclectic, patriotic, at times quite exhilarating, and (very wisely) significantly pulled back from last year’s rambling and tacky ‘Down-at-the-Old-Bull-and-Bush’ feel, which had us all singing about pappadums to the tune of ‘Nessun Dorma’, and gave us a pantomime Britannia dressed up like a Christmas tree, but outrageously deprived us of Henry Wood’s Fantasia on British Songs. No, this year was perfectly pitched and much better balanced between the classical and the ‘red, white and blue’. It was also broadcast live in 3D at Odeon cinemas across Britain, in addition to the open-air gigs in Belfast, Caerphilly, Glasgow, and the London ‘over-spill’ in Hyde Park. This was great access to a great British institution: the BBC does more every year to expand Henry Wood’s vision of making classical music accessible to the masses. Continue reading →
No matter how much Beethoven, Bach, Berlioz and Bartók I take in at the Proms, I’m fast coming to the conclusion that no season would be complete without the all-singing, all-dancing Big-Band exuberance of the John Wilson Orchestra and the sensational Maida Vale Singers. Really, it’s not possible to use too many superlatives for these gigs. Yes, it’s a lot of showbiz glitter and utterly camp razzamatazz, but John Wilson is the Fred Astaire of orchestral conductors, swooning his way through each turbo-charged performance, and the feeling is electric, if not ecstatic. Continue reading →
I was invited by EMI to the world famous Abbey Road Studios this week for a sneak preview of ‘Rodgers & Hammerstein: At The Movies’ – the latest album from the effervescent John Wilson Orchestra and the Maida Vale Singers, featuring the glorious Sierra Boggess (Love Never Dies, Phantom of the Opera), Julian Ovenden (Death Takes a Holiday, Finding Neverland) and David Pittsinger (South Pacific). Sipping a glass of Chardonnay in the historic Studio 1, just 15 feet from the Maestro and all of five feet from the swinging double basses, it was a wonderful amuse-oreille to last night’s Prom. Continue reading →