A quaint British tradition, The Henry Wood Promenade Concerts presented by the BBC - or 'The Proms' as it is generally known has come to an end for another year. They were started in 1875 by Henry Wood and, despite a sticky patch around WWII, have continued annually to this day, with about 70 concerts this season.
The 'Last Night' is the evening most people associate with the Proms, trotting out perennial favourites such as 'Jerusalem', 'Land of Hope and Glory' (Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1) and Wood's 'Fantasia on British Sea Songs'. Admission is very much oversubscribed and to get a ticket nowadays, you have to have attended some of the others during the season to stand any chance.
It is a testament to the Proms that it has evolved over the years. Classical music is not everyone's cup of tea and the Proms could have withered away to an inconsequential annual gathering of music anoraks or even died out totally. However, with the support of the BBC and the rise in popularity of Classical Superstars - Leslie Garrett, Vanessa Mae, Katherine Jenkins, Nigel Kennedy et al, Classical Music has become 'Cool'. To this end, in 1996, Hyde Park had a screen and stage and many thousands picnicked and watched and sang. This year there were five 'Proms In The Park', each with their own programme, but all coming together for the Finale. The parks were packed with people of all ages out to have a good time. It wasn't just classical music - each Park played on its Nationalistic origins - I particularly enjoyed the Irish music from the band Beoga - complemented by an Irish dancer at the end. Fireworks added the finishing touch.
One day I hope to make one of the Park Proms and, weather permitting, it will be a good way of soaking up some classical music. Anyone else up for it? As I've nearly said before - 'You've got to try everything once'
More info at Wikipedia and the BBC website