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Monday, 1 July, 2002, 13:38 GMT 14:38 UK
Proms conductor derides Britannia
Leonard Slatkin
Slatkin was the first US Last Night Proms conductor
Proms conductor Leonard Slatkin has described Rule Britannia as "militaristic" and "a little outdated".

The song, one of the highlights of the Proms season, was dropped last year from the celebrated concert series following the 11 September attacks on the US.


I'm not certain that the sentiments of the words resonate the way some people think they should

Leonard Slatkin

Slatkin, who is American, told the Radio Times magazine he was not convinced about the relevance of Britannia, which he will conduct at the Last Night of the Proms concert.

"We have had a lot of letters saying it is time to get rid of Rule Britannia and I must admit that I am not completely comfortable with playing it," he said.

Arrangement

Although it is a popular favourite, some feel it is a jingoistic piece of music, reflecting an era when Britain's naval superiority helped maintain the country's world power.

This year the piece will be played without a soloist singing and instead of the famous Malcolm Sargent arrangement, it will be performed as part of Henry Wood's original Fantasia on British Sea Songs.

The Proms
There are 73 concerts in the 2002 season
Mr Slatkin said: "Rule Britannia does seem a little militaristic, and though it's wonderful to celebrate who you are and have faith in your country, I don't think we should exclude others.

"The Last Night of the Proms is an important international occasion - in Japan they get up at 4am to watch it.

'Sentiments'

Mr Slatkin also said he felt the lyrical content of the songs was not entirely suitable.

"Anyway, I'm not certain that the sentiments of the words resonate the way some people think they should," he said.

"It does seem a little outdated."

The programme for 2002 has a strong Spanish theme, bringing more than 60 Iberian works, including the flamenco of Paco Peņa, to the Proms.

New commissions

The musical Oklahoma will be performed, as part of the centenary celebrations of composer Richard Rodgers.

Wynton Marsalis brings the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra to the Proms for the first time.

The centenary of Sir William Walton will also be marked and there will be new BBC commissions from Anthony Payne, David Sawer, Mark-Anthony Turnage and Joseph Phibbs.

The 2002 Proms will feature 73 concerts between 19 July and 14 September at London's Royal Albert Hall and with live coverage on BBC Radio 3.

There will also be interactive coverage on digital channel BBC Four.

See also:

25 Apr 02 | Entertainment
15 Sep 01 | Entertainment
16 Sep 01 | Entertainment
14 Oct 99 | Entertainment
19 Jul 01 | Entertainment
17 Jul 98 | Entertainment
09 Sep 99 | Entertainment
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