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Date: Saturday 14th September 2019
Location: Royal Albert Hall
Start time: 19:15
End time: 22:30
Daniel Kidane – Woke (9 mins)
Manuel de Falla - The Three-Cornered Hat – Suite No. 2 (13 mins)
Edward Elgar – Sospiri, Henry Wood Novelties: world premiere, 1914
Laura Mvula - Sing to the Moon (4 mins)
Georges Bizet - Carmen 'L'amour est un oiseau rebelle' (Habanera) (2 mins)
Camille Saint‐Saëns - Samson and Delilah – 'Mon coeur s'ouvre à ta voix' (7 mins)
Giuseppe Verdi - Don Carlos – 'O don fatale'(5 mins), Aida – Triumphal March (5 mins)
Jacques Offenbach - Orpheus in the Underworld – overture (9 mins)
Percy Grainger - Marching Song of Democracy (7 mins)
Elizabeth Maconchy - Proud Thames (6 mins)
Harold Arlen - The Wizard of Oz – 'Over the Rainbow' (5 mins)
Henry Wood - Fantasia on British Sea-Songs (17 mins)
Thomas Arne - Rule, Britannia! (arr. Sargent) (4 mins)
Edward Elgar - Pomp and Circumstance March No 1 in D major, 'Land of Hope and Glory' (8 mins)
Hubert Parry - Jerusalem (orch. Elgar) (2 mins)
Unknown - The National Anthem (arr. Britten) (3 mins), Auld Lang Syne
Proms is short for Promenade concerts, informal and inexpensive concerts where Promenaders (Prommers) stand to listen. Today, the Last Night of the Proms has up to 900 Prommers standing in the central Arena and a further 500 standing, sitting or even lying down in the Gallery.
Sir Henry Wood, who conducted the very first Prom on Saturday 10th August 1895, conducted every Prom for half a century. In his memory, the Proms are now officially called "BBC Music presents the Henry Wood Promenade Concerts".
The Proms is full of traditions, staples and in-jokes. In 1901, Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1 was first performed and was an instant hit! Given a double encore, Pomp and Circumstance is now a staple of the Last Night of the Proms.
As the Proms’ maestro, Sir Henry was the driving force behind many new arrangements of well-known pieces to suit the orchestra he was working with. He was also a champion of lesser known, or underplayed pieces, arranging them in exciting and accessible ways for the public.
Critics complained about Sir Henry's enthusiasm for arrangements. In response, Sir Henry played a joke on them. “I got very fed up with them, always finding fault with any arrangement or orchestrations that I made … ‘spoiling the original’,” he said.
For the 1929 Proms, he claimed one of his orchestrations of a Bach piece was the work of a Russian composer called Paul Klenovsky. Klenovsky, an entirely fictional composer made up by Sir Henry, was widely praised for the arrangement.
The press, he said later, “fell into the trap and said the scoring was wonderful, Klenovsky had the real flair for true colour – and performance after performance was given and asked for.”
It took five years for Wood to reveal the truth, after which the Times published a tongue-in-cheek tribute to Klenovsky.
Until 1941, the Queen's Hall was home to the Proms. But with the Blitz, came tragedy. On the 10th May 1941, future Proms conductor, Sir Malcolm Sargent, led a performance of the Enigma Variations and The Dream of Gerontius. This was the last performance the Hall would ever know.
That night an intensive air raid destroyed or seriously damaged a number of iconic buildings, including the chamber of the House of Commons, British Museum and Westminster Abbey.
A single incendiary bomb hit the Queen's Hall, engulfing the auditorium in a fire that destroyed the entire building. The Hall was reduced to rubble and the London Philharmonic lost thousands of pounds' worth of instruments. But like the Blitz spirit, the Proms could not be snuffed out so easily.
In the aftermath of the destruction, the only object that remained intact was a bronze bust of Sir Henry Wood. The bust was recovered from the ruins of Queens Hall and placed before the organ in the Royal Albert Hall, signifying it as the Proms' new home.
This year, over the last two months, there have been over 100 concerts in the Royal Albert Hall and the Cadogan Hall. On the 14th of September, the final concert takes place: The Last Night of the Proms. This year will also include four Proms in the Park celebrations around the UK.
Jamie Barton, whose brilliant voice has established her as one of the most exciting performers of her generation, joins Sakari Oramo and the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Chorus to conduct the musical celebrations on the evening.
The event will begin at 19:15 and run until 22:30 with one interval. The first half will be broadcasted live on BBC Two, and the second half on BBC One.