The glummest BBC Proms launch in three decades

Those with memories longer than a politician’s promise will recall a time when the launch of the BBC Proms was a feast of wit and wisdom, delivered without notes and with a sparkle in the eye.

So it was under every controller since 1985 – first John Drummond, then Nick Kenyon and, until last year, Roger Wright. Sadly, no more.

The new head of Radio 3, Alan Davey, who has general responsibility for the Proms, began his address as follows: ‘This morning, as I was in my bath….’ A room full of artists, writers and managers cringed with embarrassment.

He continued: ‘… I realised that I had been at the BBC for 100 days and can now call myself a broadcaster.’

 

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It got worse. From that point on, Davey read his introductory notes from a text in front of him. It was dreary, flat and unilluminating, adding nothing to the sum of public entertainment. The cringing intensified.

Edward Blakeman, who programmed the 2015 Proms season, tried to add a note of levity by referring to himself and Davey as Morecambe and Wise, or perhaps Ant and Dec. The attempted joke splattered like a rotten egg on a windowpane.

This was the glummest Proms launch in three decades.

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  • Andrew Condon says:

    At least there are 2 Vienna Philharmonic concerts to look forward to!

  • Wurtfangler says:

    Well, one of them I am certainly looking forward to as it is being conducted by a master musician who has an honest and unselfish approach to his music and from whom I have only ever heard fantastic performances where the music is allowed to speak for itself, with no attempt to ‘re-interpret’ or ‘re-imagine’ or find something ‘new’ to hide a lack of intellectual or emotional understanding of the work, and the musicians are allowed freedom and flexibility.

    The other is conducted by Rattle.

  • Wurtfangler says:

    Well, one of them I am certainly looking forward to as it is being conducted by a master musician who has an honest and unselfish approach to his music and from whom I have only ever heard fantastic performances where the music is allowed to speak for itself, with no attempt to ‘re-interpret’ or ‘re-imagine’ or find something ‘new’ to hide a lack of intellectual or emotional understanding of the work, and the musicians are allowed freedom and flexibility.

    The other is conducted by Rattle.

    It is, yet again, a Proms season that is depressing, dull and dumbed down. Glock and Drummond must be spinning in their graves (if they have managed to stop yet from doing the same for each of about the past 10 seasons!)

  • Will says:

    Surely every performance is a re-interpretation?

  • Hilary says:

    I wonder what accounts for this decline? Compare Michael Vyner with the various artistic directors of the London Sinfonietta who followed him and it’s hard not to notice a move towards something more even-handed, but ultimately more mediocre.

  • Ppellay says:

    OK, this does it. I’m not coming back here, so I’ll leave with this thought: punctual as ever, the Proms details are announced, and the seasonal round of griping, whining and complaining begins. ENOUGH ALREADY!

  • Mike says:

    I think I’ll join you, PPELLAY, and dump this overwhelmingly negative and increasingly joyless site in the Trash Bin; opening it every morning has become something of a masochistic urge that for the sake of my health really has to be stopped.

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