The awakened warriors took to the backseat during the Last Night of the Proms, writes CHRIS HASTINGS
A socially aloof orchestra, no Promenaders to root out the classics and swing their Union Jacks … but at least the awakened warriors took a backseat on the Last Night of the Proms, writes CHRIS HASTINGS
At night, the rousing strains of Rule, Britannia! echoed around an empty Royal Albert Hall after a battle in which patriotism triumphed over ‘awakened’ political correctness.
The BBC gave in to public pressure during the Last Night of the Proms and the stripped-down concert did little to dent the enthusiasm of millions of viewers at home.
Covid laws meant there were no Promenaders to enthusiastically swing their Union Jacks to the well-known tunes, including Land Of Hope And Glory.
The BBC gave in to public pressure at the Last Night of the Proms and the stripped-down concert did little to diminish the enthusiasm of millions of viewers at home
Instead, soprano Golda Schultz released a handful of iconic tunes last night along with 44 socially distant members of the BBC Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Finnish star Dalia Stasevska.
But traditionalists were appalled at a radical reworking of Proms classic Jerusalem by Belize-born British composer Errollyn Wallen that fused elements of blues and African music into the original melody.
Perhaps anticipating the backlash – with Twitter users accusing the BBC of ‘vandalizing’ and ‘murdering’ the hymn – presenter Katie Derham assured viewers that the traditional version would be played later.
Soprano Golda Schultz (pictured) sang a handful of iconic tunes along with 44 socially detached members of the BBC Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Finnish star Dalia Stasevska
Violinist Nicola Benedetti (pictured) played Vaughan Williams’ The Lark Ascending, which was interspersed with idyllic scenes of the British countryside
Ms. Wallen, 62, had previously said her version would be devoted to the Windrush generation and admitted yesterday that it was ‘radically different’, suggesting that sometimes traditions should change.
But she was on Radio 4’s Today program trying to “ get closer to what I think is the original meaning of [William] Blake’s text – very searching and asking questions’.
Actress Adjoa Andoh and broadcaster Richard Coles also presented who said: ‘It is so moving to hear live music again. It’s like water in the desert. ‘
The company’s bosses originally planned to only record instrumental versions of the country’s historical songs, amid claims that their lyrics were racist and celebrated colonialism and slavery.
STAY: Anti-EU protesters gathered outside the Royal Albert Hall
But it was forced to turn around after pressure from musicians, MPs and an outraged public.
Despite the hustle and bustle, the Corporation broke with tradition and in place of that Ms. Schultz Rule, Britannia! Sang, it was performed from the stalls by 18 BBC singers – the first time a choir has sung the rousing song since 2007.
The 36-year-old South African soprano also sang ‘You Never Walk Alone’ and substitute violinist Nicola Benedetti played Vaughan Williams’ The Lark Ascending at the last minute, which was interspersed with idyllic scenes of the British countryside.
Ahead of the event, the BBC said they ‘did everything they could to make it special’ and added: ‘We think the night itself will be a very special moment for the country – and one much needed after a difficult period for everyone. ‘
Critics said the BBC seemed to hit the right note. Composer Debbie Wiseman told The Mail on Sunday: ‘It’s a well-chosen program and everything seemed to work fine.
‘Of course it would never be exactly the same as in previous years, but due to the acoustics in the hall, an orchestra of 44 musicians sounded more like 80.’