You may or may not be aware that the BBC Proms 2014 season has just finished in the customary circumstantial pomp of the Last Night at the Royal Albert Hall. What you may not know is that there’s a whole lot more to the Proms than the hi-spirited clap-along of its famed apotheosis. That last night is a final farewell to one of the most amazing classical music festivals in the world, hosted every year in this nation’s capital and throughout the country, all of which is waiting to be discovered on the iPlayer and the BBC website.
For eight weeks every summer, concerts numbering over a 100 are held at “Berty Hall”, Cadogan Hall and in parks and venues across the country and has done since the tradition began in 1895. It’s the biggest festival of its kind in the world and we are extraordinarily fortunate to have it, comprising as it does large orchestral works, chamber concerts, educational and children’s events and all manner of musical wonders, some of which are as cheap to attend as £5 (if you buy on the day and don’t mind standing in the stalls or up in the gods). The programs cover everything from the big works of the traditional repertoire, to commissions from modern, living composers to sing-along japes, interactive apps and live broadcast picnics in the park.
If you missed all of this though there’s good news: much of the festival is available now to view and listen on the BBC iPlayer and at the Proms website in incredible quality. Watch concerts on BBC4, listen on BBC Radio 3, read about the featured pieces and composers and take part in a festival that has something for everyone, even if you weren’t fortunate enough to attend. If you’re unsure what to see or hear, pick something at random and see how it feels. Put it on in the background while you go about your business, see if your ears pick out something special and follow it up.
If something really grabs you, find out who the composer is and what the piece is called. See if there’s anything more written about it or any other programs featuring that composer on the site. Remember the name and go find more pieces by them on your favourite streaming service, read a little about them on Wikipedia. The Proms is a great way to introduce yourself to new artists and music you might never have heard. It’s also a fantastic way to get in to classical music as the programs are always brilliantly chosen and the performances are world-class.
I just wanted to remind everyone that this incredible archive of top-quality musical performances are ready and waiting to be discovered by anyone who pays a television license fee and has been wondering what it’s done for them lately.