BBC Proms 2016 / 75: Last Night of the Proms

We passed on the first half of last night’s Prom, choosing an early booking at nearby Chapter’s Restaurant in Blackheath. The service is prompt, the portions generous, and the bill modest. We opted to walk back home afterwards, making back just in time to see Katie Derham say goodbye on BBC Two and for proceedings to get underway on BBC One.

I expected to not enjoy the Last Night, but as it turned out the second half was a reassuringly warm affair with Vaughan Williams’ blissful Serenade to Music, Tom Harrold’s frothy world premiere Raze, and a gorgeous rendition of Britten’s arrangement of the National Anthem.

Most touching were the inserts from the nations – when that element was first introduced to the Last Night a few years back I wriggled a little uncomfortably. The logistics of getting three four performances to dovetail one another are considerable and, like the season itself, another element which us as TV viewers take for granted. This year was a polished link-up, presenting one traditional song from each nation to the country as a whole.

And true to form, I cried a bit during Jerusalem. It always gets me.

The Verdi Requiem seems like a world away now. All the anxious talk about failed ambition befuddle me now.. Where did it come from? Why did it spill over? Why did I succumb?

That’s symptomatic of the season being over. Like the Eurovision, the Proms is a platform – a world of opportunity – for this in it and looking in on it. When that platform has been packed away, so the opportunity and the need disappears.

Also like Eurovision, I did tweet quite a lot last night – not as much as I did during the Eurovision final this year, but at least it made sense (aside from one or two messages which got deleted after the event) and there weren’t any pictures of filled pint glasses.

What follows now feels like an exciting prospect.

After the razzmatazz of the Proms, where do I find the classical music events which fill some of the void? I count five season programmes on my desk as I write this. How does the experience of those events differ from the highs of the summer festival? How does the Proms act as a gateway for wider range of cultural experiences over the next ten months? And how does this blog develop as a result?

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