THE BBC took over as the main sponsor of the Promenade Concerts in 1927, 32 years after impresario Robert Newman had persuaded Sir Henry Wood to conduct the first concert in the Queen’s Hall.
Newman’s idea was to start with a popular programme and gradually train a wider audience to appreciate classical music. This fitted with the BBC’s remit to inform, educate and entertain.
Two world wars, and many financial crisis have not dimmed these wonderful ideals, which have proved to be the best basis that anyone in the world has discovered for bringing classical music to the widest of audiences.
Nowadays with the Proms in the Park, and concerts like this one, music from the Proms, in addition to attracting millions of viewers via televisions, are being played live to an ever widening audience.
The programme for this concert, and the style of playing under the baton of conductor Perry Montague-Mason, was reminiscent of the famous Queen’s Hall Light Orchestra when they were led by the amiable Canadian-born conductor /composer Robert Farnon. Rubbing shoulders were The Dambusters March‘, Nimrod, Liberty Bell, Arrival of the Queen of Sheba, the Hornpipe from Handel’s Water Music, and The Teddy Bear’s Picnic.
The vocal input from Sally Johnson and Sean Ruane went along similar lines with Oh my beloved Father, Habanera, and Nessun Dorma, which miraculously became an audience participation number.
Pleasant as it all was there was nothing outstanding about the playing or singing, but once they joined forces for the traditional ending, perhaps egged on by the unhappy events of the past week, the audience were swept along on a great wave of patriotism. It would be hard not to give the performers a high rating in view of the enthusiastic reception that greeted Rule Britannia, Jerusalem, and Land of Hope and Glory.