BBC Proms: A bit of a camel

First responses to the 2016 season are that it’s a Volkswagen designed by committee.

Under the headline ‘Few surprises but a solid programme’, Andrew Clements in the Guardian puts it succinctly:  Roger Wright stepped down as Radio 3 controller and director of the Proms at the beginning of the 2014 season, and with no carefully choreographed succession in place, his permanent replacement,David Pickard, who was previously general director at Glyndebourne, only took up his post last autumn. During the 15-month interregnum, the role was taken by Radio 3 editor Edward Blakeman, with the result that the recently announced 2016 season is effectively the combined work of three planners.

The other dailies are in strictly promo mode, offering a highlights guide and a gushy star interview.

The website has not been designed to enable an easy search of composers and works. While several artists make notable and (in some cases) much-belated debuts, the lineup looks a bit like Manchester United this season – either a work in progress or a side in decline, depending on one’s loyalty.

Slipped Disc will provide a more detailed appreciation next week with reference to some glaring omissions of notable anniversaries. At first glance, though, this is not a season that makes the heart beat faster.

bbc proms


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  • You what? What has Maggie to do with this year’s particular Proms schedule??

    If I don’t get a sensible answer, I will blame Tony Blair for last year’s!

    • Well Eddie if we are unfortunate enough to get Corbyn as PM there won’t be any classical music at all after he’s bankrupt the country.

      • From the pianist John Humphries: Anyone seen this year’s Proms season programme? Dumbing down not the word – more like an insult to intelligence and clearly a rejection of the principles laid down by the founder of the BBC and a man dedicated to the highest standards in independent public service broadcasting, John Reith – informing, instructing and entertaining. The BBC clearly is not prepared to countenance presenting any programme which requires a modicum of intellectual effort from an audience nor, it seems stage anything which doesn’t have mass appeal – a craven appeal to the ‘Strictly Come’ (whatever) audience; banal, unadventurous and wholly depressing. I note that there is a David Bowie prom. Quite where this (talented muscian though he was) conforms to the Reithian ideal is frankly beyond me. For all the criticism levelled at him (‘The Proms and Natural Justice’, Toccata Press) William Glock, Controller of Music from 1959 – 1972 devised programmes of enormous vitality and imagination. Those days seemingly long gone.

    • I suppose that since Maggie was instrumental in instituting a culture of crass domination of culture by crass politicians and Cameron is an uncritical fan of Maggie, we are where voters put us, and as for radio 3, don’t get me started.

  • As far as I’m concerned, the inclusion of Semiramide and the choice of Juan Diego Florez as Last Night soloist make up for any other defects in the programming!

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