Sunday, September 02, 2007

today : orchestral manoeuvres in South Kensington only.

Well done to the BBC again. The fact that it still maintains a commitment to the Prom Concerts each summer is splendid. And of course, now there are loads of Channels they can put on entire concerts for people like me to enjoy watching. However, at a certain point in recent seasons it's become the thing to hold a Proms in the Park event, which happens in several sites over the country.

The problem? Well, the people who organise these things seem stuck in some kind of world where everyone outside South Kensington (or Knightsbridge if you are a pedant) wants their orchestral music to be the 1812 Overture with real cannons, second rate tenors singing Nessun Dorma, some selections from Andrew Lloyd Webber and the odd inoffensive ballad singer like Ronan Keating or Will Young accompanied by violins. In short, outside of London, Orchestral music is a quintessentially Radio 2 Experience rather than a Radio 3 Experience.

Y'see, the common provincial folk Oop North and in the wilds of places like Wales and Scotland still need educating in the high arts. Not for them all this Abstract Art and long pieces of Shostokovich. No. They are simple folk who respond well to Impressionism and Romantic music with tunes and all that - provided they are cut down into nugget size pieces and accompanied by one of them sophisticated picnic hampers.

As a music festival The Proms is peerless in its scope and size. Yet not one of the concerts is held outside the Albert Hall. And if the BBC is to fulfil its remit, then spreading it around a bit is what should be happening. I am not asking for 100 major orchestras and world class conductors playing at the end of my street, but Britain has many fine concert halls and a couple of world class concerts that are accessible for the likes of me each Summer would be nice.

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