For music enthusiasts, one of the highlights of the musical calendar is the Proms. Presented by the BBC, the Proms is an eight-week summer season of daily concerts of orchestral classical music. This year the season opens on Friday 15th July and ends on Saturday 10th September and 91 concerts will be presented in 58 days. The majority of these take place in the Royal Albert Hall in South Kensington, London. The Proms has been described as ‘the world’s largest and most democratic musical festival’.
Prom is short for promenade concert, a term which originally referred to outdoor concerts in London’s pleasure gardens. The audience was free to stroll around while the orchestra was playing. In the context of the BBC Proms this now refers to the use of the standing areas inside the hall. As a consequence ticket prices are much lower than for the reserved seating. Tickets for either the Arena or Gallery in the Royal Albert Hall can only be purchased on the day of the concert. This can give rise to long queues for well-known artists or works. Those who stand are often referred to as ‘Promenaders’.
The opening concert features works Tchaikovsky, Elgar and Prokofiev with the BBC Symphony Orchestra conducted by Sakari Oramo. Many guest soloists and orchestras perform during the season but the last night of the Proms is a very special experience. Tickets for last night seating are subject to a ballot, which can only be entered if tickets to a number of other concerts have been purchased. Needless to say Promenaders queue all day or even through the previous night to obtain standing room in the arena.
The concerts were inaugurated on 10 August 1895 in the Queen’s Hall with the British conductor Sir Henry Wood as the sole conductor. However in May 1941 the Queen’s Hall was devastated beyond repair during an air raid and the Royal Albert Hall is now the permanent venue.
For further information go to http://www.bbc.co.uk/proms
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