A Night at the Proms

POMP AND CIRCUMSTANCE: The Gisborne Concert Band and Bay Cities Symphonic Band will combine to present A Classic Night at the Proms. The festive occasion is based on Britain’s popular Last Night of the Proms, which is usually staged at London’s Royal Albert Hall as seen in this picture. Picture by Yuichi

A grand Victorian tradition that evolved to blend classical music, patriotism and a risible sense of the absurd will be staged in Gisborne next month by the Gisborne Concert Band and Bay Cities Symphonic Band.

On the second Saturday in September, the traditional date for an end-of-musical-season event known as the Last Night of the Proms, the combined bands will stage a Classic Night at the Proms in Gisborne.

With more than 50 musicians on stage for the Gisborne and Napier concerts, the ensemble will create a royal old sound with popular Proms numbers such as Rule Brittania!, Country Gardens, British Sea Songs and a Gilbert and Sullivan medley.

True to the festive spirit in the London-based event, concert-goers are encouraged to dress up, take flags, balloons, hankies for mock tears during sad bits, and poppers.

“It’s like going to a formal concert where nothing is like a formal concert,” says Gisborne Concert Band musical director/conductor Chris Reynolds.

“People go to the Proms in fancy dress. They take flags and hooters. They take hankies for the slower music and make a point of wailing.

“I saw one production where one person pulled a white hankie out of his British uniform. The hankie was one of a string of hankies that were passed along the row for people to wipe their eyes and blow their noses on. Then they were passed back and tucked away again.”

Victorian tradition

The festive event draws on a tradition that began in 1831 with the advent of indoor promenade concerts. The concept was to run nightly concerts and train the public by easy stages, said impresario Robert Newman in 1894.

“Popular at first, gradually raising the standard until I have created a public for classical and modern music.”

Since then, almost every major international orchestra, conductor and soloist has played at the Proms. In 1970, prog-rock band Soft Machine was the first rock band to perform there.

In Britain, The Proms is an eight-week summer season of daily orchestral classical music concerts and other events mostly held in the Royal Albert Hall. The season culminates in the much-anticipated Last Night of the Proms.

Presented in a lighter, “winding-down” vein, popular classics are usually followed by British patriotic pieces. These include Edward Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance March No.1, Henry Wood’s Fantasia on British Sea Songs, followed by Thomas Arne’s Rule, Britannia! The concert concludes with Hubert Parry’s Jerusalem (a setting of a poem by William Blake), and the British national anthem.

A grand Victorian tradition that evolved to blend classical music, patriotism and a risible sense of the absurd will be staged in Gisborne next month by the Gisborne Concert Band and Bay Cities Symphonic Band.

On the second Saturday in September, the traditional date for an end-of-musical-season event known as the Last Night of the Proms, the combined bands will stage a Classic Night at the Proms in Gisborne.

With more than 50 musicians on stage for the Gisborne and Napier concerts, the ensemble will create a royal old sound with popular Proms numbers such as Rule Brittania!, Country Gardens, British Sea Songs and a Gilbert and Sullivan medley.

True to the festive spirit in the London-based event, concert-goers are encouraged to dress up, take flags, balloons, hankies for mock tears during sad bits, and poppers.

“It’s like going to a formal concert where nothing is like a formal concert,” says Gisborne Concert Band musical director/conductor Chris Reynolds.

“People go to the Proms in fancy dress. They take flags and hooters. They take hankies for the slower music and make a point of wailing.

“I saw one production where one person pulled a white hankie out of his British uniform. The hankie was one of a string of hankies that were passed along the row for people to wipe their eyes and blow their noses on. Then they were passed back and tucked away again.”

Victorian tradition

The festive event draws on a tradition that began in 1831 with the advent of indoor promenade concerts. The concept was to run nightly concerts and train the public by easy stages, said impresario Robert Newman in 1894.

“Popular at first, gradually raising the standard until I have created a public for classical and modern music.”

Since then, almost every major international orchestra, conductor and soloist has played at the Proms. In 1970, prog-rock band Soft Machine was the first rock band to perform there.

In Britain, The Proms is an eight-week summer season of daily orchestral classical music concerts and other events mostly held in the Royal Albert Hall. The season culminates in the much-anticipated Last Night of the Proms.

Presented in a lighter, “winding-down” vein, popular classics are usually followed by British patriotic pieces. These include Edward Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance March No.1, Henry Wood’s Fantasia on British Sea Songs, followed by Thomas Arne’s Rule, Britannia! The concert concludes with Hubert Parry’s Jerusalem (a setting of a poem by William Blake), and the British national anthem.

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