My Last Night of the Proms
Last night I went to the *Last Night of the Proms. I didn’t realise that the evening included two world-class opera singers leading a full Royal Albert Hall audience in a jolly singalong. For me, even more remarkable was the range of nationalities represented at such a traditional British event.
- Danielle de Niese “was born in Melbourne to Sri Lankan parents of Dutch and Scottish descent, and grew up in Los Angeles.” She led us in a joyful Sound of Music medley. This is an American film set in Austria with the very British Julie Andrews and her excellent diction.
- Jonas Kaufmann, a German tenor, belted out (in a top class opera sense) Rule, Britannia! This is a traditional patriotic anthem from 1740, celebrating Britain’s naval dominance. The original poem describes a ninth-century British king defeating Danish invaders. It felt oddly exhilarating to be singing “Britons never will be slaves!”
- Marin Alsop was an electric conductor. She is an American who divides her time between Baltimore and Sao Paulo. She chose to teach us an old American children’s song by Copland called ‘I bought me a cat’. One of the lines was “My pig says ‘Griffey, griffey'”. Weird. [Aside: at the end of the concert she swapped her baton for a selfie stick! Read her guide to taking concert selfies...]
I had expected the Last Night of the Proms to be awash with Union Jack flags. There were a lot, with a few novelty waistcoats too. But there were also flags from all around the world, and a very large, simple “Refugees welcome” too. Story via The Guardian, obviously http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/sep/13/refugees-welcome-banner-steals-show-last-night-proms-royal-albert-hall
My Italian friend and I felt rather pleased to be part of this charming event. We even stood up to sing Jerusalem. This was absolutely the musical equivalent of a warm ‘upper body only’ British hug, with a firm back pat.
*Use of capitalisation as per the official programme.
Here’s one I wrote earlier
Where do you go when you press Home? Does your life have a ‘Home’ button? I’m back home (Sydney) after a brief visit to London (new home).
Happy Chinese Australian New Day Chinese New Year and Australia Day completely passed me by this year. Instead, we surrounded ourselves with cheese, mountains and snow in France.