Rule, Britannia is now a test of BBC nerve

Rule, Britannia is now a test of BBC nerve


norman lebrecht

August 23, 2020

It was reckless of the BBC to consign the last night of the Proms to a little-known Finnish conductor, Dalia Stasevska.

Dalia has yet to prove herself with any UK orchestra and is known to embrace right-on, fully woke opinions. According to one source, she is a fervid supporter of BLM and is demanding the removal of ‘colonialist’ Rule, Britannia from its traditional place in the Last Night concert.

It is now down to Proms chief David Pickard and Radio 3 controller Alan Davey to decide whether they stand up to her, or cave in.

I think we can predict the outcome.

UPDATE: Why Rule Britannia must stay


  • Andy says:

    Cave in. And rightly so. It’s an old relic that is well, well past its sell by date. Time to move on.

    • V. Lind says:

      No, no and no again. Last Night is meant to be a rollicking fest of traditional patriotic British favourites. Leave it alone — and ditch the bitch if she will not play ball. AND Rule Britannia!

      • Jan says:

        We must keep rule Brittania in the Proms – it is a tradition and in this time of change (COVID and Brexit) leave our country to make its own decisions and Dalia Stasevska to make changes for Finland

      • Stephen Whitaker says:

        There’s not going to be anyone in the Hall to wave flags or sing along.
        No rollicking fest happened before Flash Harry hijacked the Last Night.

      • Chris Walsh says:

        “Last Night is meant to be a rollicking fest of traditional patriotic British favourites…”

        Ah, yes. Memories of Harrison Birtwhistle’s “Panic” can still have the patriotic tears coursing down my cheeks.

    • Sam says:

      Agreed. The world needs a little less chest-beating nationalism at this moment in time. They can always bring it back sometime in the future but give it a rest for now.

      Go Dalia!

    • Adrienne says:

      We have rap singers spouting violence and misogyny, surrounded by actual violence and death on our city streets, but the ridiculous BLM regard this as a significant problem?


    • Tony says:

      For BBC management, attention to Nigel Farage will decide whether to get one headline in the Daily Express, or another.

      Either way the BBC is the relic in its decision-making.

      By now, who cares?

      I shan’t be watching, nor probably will be music-lover (?) Nigel Farage unless there is a camera crew standing by.

      Anyone might think this is a Proms Season – but it isn’t.

      I agree. Time to move on.

    • Tom says:

      Completely agree, nice tune but it’s an embarrassment now. Total guess but I bet Arne dashed it off for a bit of loot and to carry favour, and like many a composer doesn’t deserve to only be known just just one tune.

    • Sue Sonata Form says:

      Presumably you’re an American with zero understanding of any kind of tradition, especially British tradition.

      The more women you employ in all fields the more hand-wringing, sobbing, political activism and bleeding heart you’re going to get. Unfortunately, it is woke authoritarianism most of the time.

      Don’t like Gergiev? He looks very liberal-minded compared to this agitprop. Ironic, isn’t it.

      • E Rand says:

        quite right

      • Stephen Whitaker says:

        The patriotic nature of the Last Night of The Proms is not traditionally British!
        It was invented by Malcolm Sargent in the 50s.
        Music has always been Globalist.
        Henry Wood programmed more Wagner and Beethoven than British music.

        • Guy Roberts says:

          As it happens, both Beethoven and Wagner both liked Rule Britannia so much that they each composed a variation on Arne’s original music.

    • Brian Brotherston says:

      Suggest you also move on, Andy, preferably to Antarctica !!

    • Bone says:

      Then you can move on. Those that believe British rule led to (1) a fight for freedom or (2) a better living standard through industrialization believe it is worth acknowledging the greatest empire the world has ever seen.

      • aBrit says:

        (1) a fight for freedom armed by the blood of slaves or (2) a better living standard through industrialisation for the white British.

        I note your North American spelling. I can pull out my anti-GOP rant too if you’d like.

    • charles says:

      As is the monarchy. Time to make a move on that, too.

    • Michael James says:

      Parry’s Jerusalem will be next. It mentions ‘England’.

      • Stephen Whitaker says:

        It won’t be next because it’s a Socialist anthem written in support of the Suffragettes.

        • Mrs Britannia says:

          Stephen, they shall find fault with Jersualem, as it is basically a white middle/upper class rugby song sung at many public schools! So it’s not woke!!

          • Allen says:

            Wrong. It is also used at rugby league games, which are not middle/upper class.

            Examples easy to find on YouTube.

        • Guy Roberts says:

          No it’s not. The words were written by William Blake at the start of the 19th century, many decades before the suffragettes.

          • V. Lind says:

            And if anyone has taken it as an anthem, it’s The Women’s Institute. I’m not sure all of them even support votes for women (just kidding) but I doubt many of them were suffragettes.

          • Mrs Britannia says:

            Jam and Jerusalem, like my grandmother! Noted V Lind!

    • ThrownOutOfTheKremlinForSinging says:

      Instead of “Rule Britannia”, let them sing this:

    • hanshopf says:

      Yeah, loving it + really enjoy having Norman now complain, who‘s the loudest in demanding mindless female quota.

  • Norbert says:

    Is supporting BLM a problem? I don’t think so. Cringeworthy RB has had its day – not all traditions are worth keeping.

  • AngloGerman says:

    Better they were to find a decent replacement for her, but knowing the ‘woke’ idiots in charge that won’t happen…

  • RW2013 says:

    Where has her Sibelius 7 gone?!

  • marcus says:

    Just checked out her wiki entry. This Joanna-cum-lately has done next to f**k all as far as I can see so it does raise the question why she was chosen. If one were of a cynical cast of mind one might suppose it was with the sole purpose of driving through a woke agenda by proxy. But that would be a craven act of cowardice on the part of BBC management so could not possibly be the case, now could it?

  • Philip says:

    It’s a golden opportunity in this time of Covid and without an audience for the BBC to re-fashion the Last Night and I hope they don’t pass up the chance.

  • George says:

    What exactly qualifies her to demand the removal, and why should Pickard/Davey cave in.

  • Mustafa Kandan says:

    Rule Britannia is colonialist. It should not be featured in these times of political correctness, at least if we are to be consistent.

    • Alexis says:

      Norman, HKMK23’s comment here and various other xenophobic comments below have no place on your discussion board. Strong views can be expressed without descending into personal slurs. I don’t see a report option here, but that ^^ is racism plain and simple. All the more shameful when hidden behind a username.

    • Tenation says:

      But Britain’s economy and, in fact, that of most of Western Europe, is founded on trade. Colonialism was a part of that trade. We cannot deny or undo it. We can, however, learn from it.

      That does not mean pulling down the statues, renaming roads and monuments but explaining their context.

      It also means we have to provide equal opportunity for all, regardless of lineage, colour, race, sex, creed etc. That does not mean the virtue signalling, box ticking, quota filling nonsense currently flooding every pore of life.

    • V. Lind says:

      I don’t want to be consistently politically correct.

      That’s always struck me as a sort of Communist approach.

  • John Rook says:

    Auntie knew full well what it was doing. Fervent supporter of a movement she never knew existed until a few weeks ago, light the touchpaper and stand back…

    • Stephen Whitaker says:

      The Mail knows full well what it is doing. They never knew she existed before they made up the fake story about her.

  • George says:

    “A BBC source told the newspaper: “Dalia is a big supporter of Black Lives Matter and thinks a ceremony without an audience is the perfect moment to bring change.””

    Absolutely. If she wants to play without an audience, let’s skip the broadcast as well.

  • miko says:

    Specially for you and all the right wing dinosaurs who frequent this blog:

    Land of hopeless Tories
    Liars to a tee…
    How will they exploit thee,
    Who are born of thee

    Wider still and wider
    Shall their lies be spread
    Brexit, Covid shambles
    Foodbanks, jobless, dread…

    Brexit, Covid shambles
    Tens of thousands dead.

    • Wesley says:

      Specially for you and all the Anglophobic democracy-deniers who frequent this blog:

      Land of whingeing lefties
      And Remoaners too
      Still having trouble believing
      Britain’s left the EU.

      Rants on social media
      Is all that they can do
      As, thank God and Boris,
      Britain’s left the EU.

      Thanks to God and Boris
      Britain’s left the EU.

    • Mike Aldren says:

      Why blame the Tories for this, is there any evidence that prommers are Tories? Sounds like your political bias showing.
      The idea that racism is ‘right wing’ stems from Hitler’s national SOCIALIST party and everything that I see nowadays suggests that racists are every bit as likely to be traditional left wingers as Tories.

    • Bea says:

      Well said, Miko. Now let’s think of a really good replacement anthem that celebrates British freedoms and character without suggesting we should go round waging war – on the waves or on land – on other people.

  • nimitta says:

    Speaking as an American citizen, I’m with Dalia all the way on BLM, as should be any decent person not deceived by Fox News propaganda. Funny, though: ‘Rule, Britannia’ doesn’t strike me as colonialist – it’s all about Britain, an island nation, defending itself and its waters from foreign tyrants, right?

    That said, patriotic anthems like Rule, Britannia and the Star-Spangled Banner don’t really belong on concert music programs, and their inclusion rarely feels right. I can think of a few novelty exceptions, of course – I got a serious kick out of hearing Horowitz play his transcription of Sousa’s ‘Stars & Stripes Forever’, and an even bigger kick hearing and watching Yuja Wang do it even better. But the experience of concert music performanced – even of works with frank nationalistic themes like Ma Vlast and, ahem, Finlandia – is diluted by calls to patriotism, which today tend to incline toward jingoism.

    • Stephen Whitaker says:

      Malcolm Sargent invented the tradition of patriotic anthems in the program of the Last Night in the 50s.
      It was intended to rouse the UK after our humiliation in the Suez Crisis.

    • Bea says:

      Nimita, it’s not about Britain defending itself, that’s the point. It’s about ushering in the age of gunboats that shelled cities in China or anywhere else that was trying to defend itself from colonial imposition. No wait, that’s what the American revolution was all about.

      • V. Lind says:

        The American revolution was about what America has always been about. More sacred than the Second Amendment is the American commitment not to pay taxes. That fool that runs the place was on TV today going on and on about how drug prices are lower everywhere else than they are in the US. He forgot to tell his devoted moronic audience why: other countries have citizens who pay taxes so that drugs can cost less; and, of course, the insatiable American lust for profit, profit and more profit.

  • Le Křenek du jour says:


    If, by a miracle too huge to contemplate, some online channel dug up a season of plays by Eugène Ionesco, long overdue, the biting satire of “The Rhinoceros” would in all likelihood be lost on the audience.
    Some come pre-rhinocerised; some have rhinoceritis thrust upon them; the remnant achieve rhinocerisation all by themselves.

    We may survive Covid-19.
    Whether our minds can survive the current bout of rhinoceritis is another matter.
    « Je ne donne pas cher de Bérenger. »

  • nimitta says:

    [not for publication] Norman, please amend ‘performanced’ to ‘performance’ before posting – thanks!

  • Biscuitson says:

    Arne-other one bites the dust!

  • wasteland says:

    Leave off references to ruling-the-waves-colonialism? Forget ironic references about slavery in a country whose own historic slave trade and indentured servitude remains infamous to this day? Gee, what an incendiary idea in Brexitland. And besides, what would classical music be without crude jingoism?

  • Escamillo says:

    Frankly, ‘Rule, Britannia’ is a ridiculous piece, unworthy even of a football match, and it makes me cringe. But it is not this conductor’s place to set the rules. Nobody forced her to take the job.

    • Stephen Whitaker says:

      Who forces you to believe the Mail’s anonymous BBC source?

    • Guy Roberts says:

      You may believe Rule Britannia is “ridiculous” but Beethoven and Wagner both disagreed with you. They liked it so much that they composed variations on Arne’s music.

      • Bill says:

        Or maybe they just thought they could make a few quid doing so. Note that Beethoven didn’t bother to give it an opus number.

  • Tom Emlyn Williams says:

    Does she really want to conduct the “Last Night of the Proms”? Perhaps they should get someone to read her contract to her. There is an easy answer, get someone else.

  • fflambeau says:

    It’s hard to think of a more imperialistic jingle than “Rule, Brittania.” There’s lots of very good British music that gets shortchanged and that can be substituted for it.

  • Dotmaster says:

    Send it to the bin – good riddance, who wants to hear the same old nationalistic Brit crap year on year anyway? Last night in desperate need of a revamp, this new conductor might make it worth tuning in…

  • E Rand says:

    Never cave. Hold fast to your culture and history. The Left’s thirst for destruction is never slaked. Give and inch, and they’ll take everything until there is nothing but a howling wasteland remains. Rule Britannia!

  • Nick2 says:

    These pieces should have been left out of the Last Night decades ago. The time for colonial tub thumping is long past. The BBC should consign them to the dust heap where they belong.

    • John Rook says:

      You’re all missing the point. It’s a bit of harmless fun, though the brainless woke possess no sense of humour.

  • M McAlpine says:

    Cave in? Who is in charge? Why not just get rid of her and get someone to conduct who in sympathy (with a sense of humour who actually knows some British history) rather than these people who think they can come and dictate to us what happens in a British tradition? Far simpler! If this ill-informed woke crank knew anything she would know that Rule Britannia has nothing to do with BML and the slave trade being set in the time of King Arthur.

    • Stephen says:

      And the Chorus of Hebrew Slaves has nothing to do with Italian unification, Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk nothing to do with Soviet repression and Fidelio is just a little singspiel about a single prisoner.

      • M McAlpine says:

        Just do your research properly instead of pointless comparisons. Rule Britannia has absolutely nothing to do with the slave trade.

        • Marfisa says:

          Absolutely! And it has nothing to do with imperialism either. The waves Britannia is being exhorted to rule are those around its own coastline, so as to be able to defend itself from imperialist invaders (Napoleon and Hitler, later, come to mind).

  • J.A. Van Detta says:

    The 101st anniversary of Amritsar by itself is enough of a reason to shelve jingoistic, imperialist tropes. There is an ample body of English music to play that celebrates Englishness without the less attractive glorification of imperialism.

  • Zelda Macnamara says:

    I think you’re being a bit patronising on two counts. According to her biography, she has had about as much experience as the much-hyped Mirga G-T had when she took over at the CBSO, and certainly more than Simon Rattle when he took over there. As she has recently been appointed principle guest conductor of the BBCSO, it’s not surprising that they have given her this concert. Your own review from last year wasn’t entirely negative, either. (You complained that her kimono distracted from the music – well, in many of MG-T’s early concerts, her flailing white arms and jumping up and down did exactly that, before she grew up a bit.) As for Dalia Stasevska being “right-on, fully-woke” and being a “fervid” supporter of BLM, your use of language shows your bias against progressive opinion. She is not the only person to support getting rid of “Rule Britannia” and without all the flag-waving, this would seem an excellent time to do so.

    • Jan says:

      Mirga has done far more for music throughout the country than you give her credit for. She is a huge asset to the music world The comments about her arms are not true – she is a conductor and cannot keep them at her side. And as for jumping up and down no mention is made of male conductors doing this -Andris Nelsons for one. There is nothing wrong wth this so stop being bitchy and look forward to getting back to live music and ‘mobile’ conductors

      • Zelda Macnamara says:

        Jan, I couldn’t watch Andris Nelsons either as he reminded me too much of the Hoffnung caricatures. A conductor should serve the music, not distract from it. And as far as I am concerned, my comments about her arms come from having to listen with my eyes shut at some of her concerts.

        • nimitta says:

          I can’t think of another conductor today who ‘serves the music’ much better than Andris Nelsons. That’s why his fellow musicians at the Boston Symphony Orchestra love playing with him, and perform so wonderfully. The same has been true for the CBSO, Philharmonia, and ROH, as well as Bayreuth, the Concertgebouw, Lucerne FO, and both the Wiener und Berliner Philharmoniker.

          I’m fortunate enough to live in the city of Boston and get to hear Andris perform every week he’s here. I don’t find his podium manner distracting at all, but have noticed that his movements have contracted a bit in recent seasons (while his waistline has expanded).

    • Back desk says:

      Zelda, she’s a dreadful conductor. I played under her. It’s the usual BBC tick box exercise. Where’s Andrew Davis when you need him?

      • Zelda Macnamara says:

        Which one is dreadful? MIrga, or Dalia? I will always believe musicians who speak from experience, so if you say she’s not good to play under, I’ll accept that.

  • aBrit says:

    You know Norman, for someone who knows so well the atrocities that have befallen our own people, you display a pathological lack of empathy.

    “A fervid supporter of BLM.” Well, I should hope that all decent people are supporters of the concept that black live matters, just in the same way I’d hope they would support the notion that Jewish lives matter.

    With your seemingly endless cognitive dissonance, perhaps you’d be better off on Breitbart.

    • Adrienne says:

      I think you need to do a little research into what BLM stands for. Don’t you understand that there’s a world of difference between Black Lives Matter, and saying that black lives matter.

      If you do not understand that the BLM title was chosen as a seemingly respectable front for a collection of ludicrous and discredited Marxist demands which, in practice, always seem to end up justifying violence, you must be very naive indeed.

    • V. Lind says:

      But one gets excoriated for saying the all lives matter. Or worse. Ask Laurence Fox.

  • Adam says:

    This is why classical music in Britain is Finnished. At a time when there’s a global pandemic sweeping the globe, concert halls are closed, musicians can’t travel the BBC starts a debate about whether we should play Rule Britannia.

  • Finbarr says:

    As an Irishman I always hated the jingoistic Rule Britannia. The British Empire is long gone and Britannia no longer rules the waves.

    They should have the famous song “My lovely Horse”, Lyrics Ted Crilly, music Dougal Maguire. That Sax solo is magic.

    • Bea says:

      Well said Finbarr. Looking forward to “My lovely horse” with flag-waving accompaniment.

    • R Thornton says:

      “As an Irishman I always hated the jingoistic Rule Britannia.”

      So what? I’m not a huge fan of jingoistic Irish rebel songs, so I don’t listen to them. Problem solved.

      And BTW, ‘Rule Britannia’ doesn’t claim that Britain does rule the waves.

      • V. Lind says:

        How could anyone not love The Minstrel Boy? And I like The Patriot Game and A Nation Once Again, among many others.

        I am not Irish (directly, though my Scottish family is Irish on both sides back to Brian Boru). I was a just brought up by a musician father with songs, whose selection was only based upon musical value (or, in the case of stuff like Phil the Fluter’s Ball, or Dear Old Donegal, on entertainment value).

        I was also taught the Eton Boat Song, and Blaydon Races and Rule, Britannia. And All Through the Night and Cwm Rhondda and Men of Harlech. And Scotland the Brave and the Skye Boat Song and other songs of my people, some in Gaelic.

        And Puccini and Verdi arias. American songs, including what are now probably called African-American spirituals. And one that involved a certain Sunday School that was a funny take on Bible Stories (“that you’ve never heard before”). The Banana Boat Song and Island in the Sun.

        And Heidenröslein and Guten Abend. And Silent Worship — the latter in English, but the others in German — from the cradle, where the Brahms was my default lullaby. (That probably spurred my interest in languages, though of the number I learned Gaelic was not among them and I only did the compulsory German half-term to complete a Ph.D requirement, and never paid it much attention).

        I daresay there’s all sorts of political incorrectness in my innocent upbringing, in a family that was probably the only one among my schoolmates that ever entertained a black man to dinner (African, not American, as I recall). They were songs, that’s all. But they were the soundtrack of my youth, and they are the songs I still remember.

  • Allen says:

    Decades ago, when people on the “right” like Mary Whitehouse complained about the increased permissiveness in TV programming, her supporters were told that they were not obliged to watch programmes they did not approve of.

    Now, in 2020, the objectors are on the left, but the same argument applies. It’s one concert, it’s a bit of fun, and the prommers don’t go on the rampage after the event. If you don’t like it, don’t watch it.

    People here who are genuinely concerned about the evils of slavery, and are not simply posturing, should be looking elsewhere – hint: it’s still happening. Lastly, I’m amused by the totally bogus “modernise” argument. This is a classical music festival for God’s sake.

  • George says:

    I’ve always loved the British for being able to laugh at themselves and be patriotic (not nationalust). Like polishing Henry Woods bust during the broadcast. Like having Juan Diego Florez sing Rule Britannia in a Peruvian Chief’s costume, or Bryn Terfel one verse in Welsh, and others dressed up as Valkyries etc. . It used to be an honour for every singer to ve asked to perform it.
    And all the flags from all the countries and people singing from all nations and enjoying the music instead of fighting against each other.
    (The songs was written at a time when Britain competed with France and the Netherlands to “rule the waves”). Without the sea songs, Rule Britannia, Land of Hope and Glory, Jerusalem the Last Night of the Proms will just be a concert like any other.

  • pjl says:

    seems pointless to have RB with no prommers to sing; but would be good to hear the Elgar without the added words as the tune Elgar was proud of remains magnificent. After Elgar 1 in Stockholm last autumn Oramo (yes, he’s Finnish but is one of the two great Elgarians of today) played it as an encore, though in a truncated version.

  • Wasfi Kani says:

    There is no such thing as a good empire. Their goal is exploitation – not improved dental care. It’s all about stuffing more money into trousers.

    • Wurtfangler says:

      And yet on your own Instagram page you proudly display that you are a member of Most Excellent Order of the British Empire. It is okay for you to proclaim your allegiance to an empire then?

  • Rachelle Goldberg says:

    Firstly we are going to be one of the last countries have to have live orchestral concerts because there is a lack of will to find a solution with Scientific Research and outcomes regarding social distancing with the musicians and their audiences. Secondly a tradition of the Last Night of the Proms is now at risk of having the repertoire changed because of ‘political’ intervention. Let’s take the politics out of music and enjoy it for what it is. A British tradition!

  • Operacentric says:

    It’s Dalia’s idea?

    Hmm seems to chime so well with the current rounds of virtue signalling, box ticking, quota filling policies.

    Or is that why she was selected?

  • karajanman says:

    As an Irish nationalist, I have no problem with the Last Night at the Proms. Admittedly, any former colonist of the UK has to have a good chuckle at the idea of it being “mother of the free”!! That said, the throwback second half is outweighed by the (often) adventurous first half. I was astonished to learn that the seemingly Edwardian atmosphere of the second half was only introduced in the 1950’s. However, that was a time when the sun was beginning to set on the Empire so wrapping the Union flag around proceedings was probably a reaction to that. “Rule Britannia” and “Land of Hope and Glory” are chauvinistic, jingoistic and anachronistic but I don’t believe that people sing them as a conscious effort to assert national superiority nor as a ‘dog whistle’ for ‘Little England’ racism. If there are people who sing for these reasons, they are out of touch with the Prommers I’ve met at the concerts I’ve been lucky enough to attend. A more inclusive and welcoming group you are unlikely to come across. I can’t help wondering though, how some of the people rushing to attack the BBC and this young conductor would react if the Berliner Philharmoniker were to end their Waldbuhne concerts with similarly nationalistic hymns.

    • Joe says:

      I doubt you are in fact an Irish nationalist.

      • karajanman says:

        Why? Because I refuse to be outraged by the silly words of a long out-of date song in order to prove my patriotic credentials. In Ireland we like to sing rebel songs about ‘perfidious Albion’ but they are not meant to be malicious nor to be taken as proof that all Irish people hate all British people. Context is everything. Your idea of nationalism is completely different to mine.

    • Lunchtime O'Boulez says:

      Karajan was a genius. Only he could make the classics from Albinoni to Zelenka all sound consistently like Mantovani.

      • karajanman says:

        I have never listened to Karajan’s recording of Albinoni (really Giazotto anyway I think) and I don’t remember his recording Zelenka but I am quite happy to listen to many of his recordings. I guessed when I chose the moniker that many on this blog would sniff and turn their noses up. It’s not as if NL has made a secret of his views on Herbie. Still if any of the contributors here can conduct a better version of Beethoven’s ‘Eroica’ than Karajan’s 1962 version or his Richard Strauss or his Vienna Phil Bruckner 8th (not to mention the wonderful Puccini operas, Tchaikovsky, Prokofiev 5th, Shostakovich 10th, Mahler 9th, etc.) then I will lie down and worship at their feet. It’s not as if I think everything he touched turned to gold. His 1962 ‘Pastorale’ is truly awful and I won’t be rushing to hear his Stravinsky or Bartok, but if you can listen without prejudice (as George Michael used to request), surely any truly even-handed assessment would find some merit in his work rather than a casual dismissal, no matter how clever or humourous.

  • Helen says:

    Ms Stasevska should stop interfering in British traditions and, instead, address her own government’s treatment of the Sámi people.

    But I suppose associating herself with BLM is a much cooler thing to do, and more attention grabbing.

    Some people in the ‘arts’ need to take a long, hard look at themselves.

  • Jonathan says:

    I don’t see an issue with “Rule, Britannia!” as I’ve always considered it a tribute to our armed forces, and indeed our shared values, fighting for peace and freedom for the UK and around the world. The part about never being slaves I take to mean free from invading armies, which once might have meant the French, but could apply equally to the defeat of Nazi Germany. The “tyrants” could include the defeat of Saddam Hussein and liberating an invaded country in the first Gulf War. “Britons” I take to include black people and people of every other race in our multicultural society. If it were a song singing the virtues of shipping slaves to cotton plantations, it would be wholly inappropriate, but it isn’t.

    There are many good female conductors who could have been invited, but I had never heard of Ms Stasevska, and do not see why such an unknown conductor, male or female, should be doing the Last Night. But still, it’s not really a proper Proms season. A compromise might be to have a different programme for these unprecedented times (there is a precedent in 2001) with a return to the usual programme next year when everyone is glad to be back to normal.

    By the way Norman, the BBC website article on this currently says you are a Lord!

  • Rachelle Goldberg says:

    Her fee was lower!

  • arm wavin' says:

    horrible chorus mistress .. or is she meant to be a conductor ?