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Last Updated: Sunday, 14 September, 2003, 17:32 GMT 18:32 UK
A night of musical exuberance

Caroline Ryan
BBC News Online, at the Albert Hall

The 109th season of promenade concerts ended with a Last Night full of musical exuberance.

The Last Night is famous for Rule Britannia and Jerusalem, but the BBC Symphony Orchestra, BBC Symphony Chorus and BBC singers took the opportunity to show off their virtuosity throughout the evening.

Audience at the Proms
As ever, the audience had its turn to show off its talents
Among the highlights was the exhilarating Roman Carnival overture by Berlioz, featuring a beautiful cor anglais solo, which opened the concert.

The musicians also demonstrated their skills with the world premiere of Lumina, by the young British composer Joseph Phibbs.

The orchestra, under the baton of American conductor Leonard Slatkin excelled in the first half of the concert.

It was aided by soloists Leila Josefowicz, an up-and-coming violinist, and the popular Romanian soprano Angela Gheorghiu.

The violinist had the audience spellbound with her exquisite performance of Massenet's Meditation and her display of virtuosity in Saint-Saens's Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso.

The brilliant Angela Gheorghiu displayed passion in Bizet's Carmen and sang a beautiful, but little known Romanian song Valurile Dunarii-Muzica, by George Grigoriu.

Then the audience had its turn to show off its talents as the orchestra came to the final section of the evening.

Elgar's Land of Hope and Glory was the cue for the bells, whistles and flags - as well as the vocal chords - to be put to use.

The packed Royal Albert Hall joined forces with audiences in Hyde Park, Belfast, Swansea and Glasgow - along with the massed singers of the BBC Symphony Chorus and the BBC Singers - for rousing and repeated renditions of the traditional Proms crowd-pleaser.

That and other Last Night favourites, Rule Britannia and Jerusalem, rounded off the evening in traditional Last Night style.

So what do you think?

If you took part in, watched or just listened to this year's Last Night of the Proms did you enjoy it? Was the music and the atmosphere as good as in previous years? Have you enjoyed the season as a whole?

Here is a selection of your views.

Excellent evening and a pleasure to watch/listen to. There's nothing wrong with a bit of flag waving and patriotism, something which we seem not to do for fear of being PC ... by the way Chris Oakley, the "same setting" of Jerusalem is nothing to be ashamed of. After all, the arrangement of Parry's wonderful tune is by Sir Edward Elgar, no less!
Darren Niman (The Elgar Society, North West Branch), UK

SUPER - great - fantastic. Thoroughly enjoyed ALL of it apart from the "new one" - didn't like it one bit (sorry).
Joy, England

It was my first time at the Albert Hall for Last Night and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Both Leila Josefowicz and Angela Gheorgiu were great. Angela had the audience in the palm of her hand - and her rendition of Valurile Dunarii-Muzica went down a storm in the Hall. My only complaints would be over the Fantasia. It would have been great to hear the other Nations singing their contributions in the Hall. And I wasn't sure about Charlie is my Darling. The Sky Boat Song would have fitted in better.
Mark Craig, UK

What a night! What a night! Such agility and grace as I have ever seen on stage. Hypnotic and rousing, ruthless and soothing, that was the Last Night in the eye of the storm, so-called Hyde Park. I don't think my ears have ever enjoyed a bath of sound quite like it! I would, however, plead guilty for the sake of the call of Uilleann Pipes.
James Cross, England

A great night, but with a few flaws. Too many large flags, a singer who didn't sing Rule Brittania and a new piece that was a little lost. Failing that I enjoyed it as ever. It is why I live in the UK and haven't gone to Oz! Britain at its best!!
Annie, UK

I was lucky enough to attend the Prom in the Park at Hyde Park. There was a fantastic atmosphere throughout and the music was wonderful. I'm definitely going to try and go again next year.

The "defend outlaws" gaff was hilarious as was watching the words of Auld Lang Syne appear in a sequence totally unrelated to the part of the music being played.
Michelle, England

A brilliant night, I watched on telly and was glued to my set, as always the BBC doing what they do best.Those pictures shown around the world made me very proud, and shows others that there are people in this country that do not need a glass of lager in there hands to have a good time . And by the way, the music was exceptional.
John Gittos, UK

What a disgusting display of patriotism!

I was appalled by this deliberate misrepresentation of us all. This spectacle was both self-indulgent and reprehensible. Quite clearly, the sight of a public event, that is educational, entertaining and internationally respected, without the spectre of violent misconduct, obscenity or vandalism, failed in every way to demonstrate the reality of the divisions in the United Kingdom of today.
Michael Murray, What was United KIngdom

My first Live experience of the Proms, courtesy of Hyde Park. A fantastic evening of beautiful music, an overwhelming atmosphere and an enormous sense of pride throughout Jerusalem, Hope and Glory and of course the National Anthem let the flags wave!!
Dan Hodgson, Surrey, England

We were at the Proms in The Park in London and it was fantastic, I have been going to the Proms for the past eight years and this was the best ever, Ruthie Henshall and the link ups to Ireland, Scotland and Wales were the highlights. Very proud to be British!
Becky, West Sussex

I went to the Last Night of the Proms in Hyde Park.This was my first prom. It was amazing to be part of a crowd with some many different people, all united with a love for music. Unforgettable.
Michelle, Cardiff, UK

We'll have to wait until the ABC let's us watch it! It has always been such a tradition for my family and I look forward to joining in loudly, getting sentimental and homesick! This year sounds wonderful!
Amina, Australia

As a student at Imperial College (immediately to the south of the Royal Albert Hall) in the 1950s I began attending the Proms - the pre-mushroom era - and I keep attending whenever I can in my travels. It was again a great celebration of music, and my enjoyment included Phibbs' piece, I know the light and landscape of upstate New York which was part of the inspiration for that work.

Great camera work and real-time switching between views of soloists and principals by the BBC crew, also of the interaction between conductor and soloists. This Last Night evoked thrilling memories of earlier Proms.
Peter Richardson, USA (ex UK)

As a Yank, I may be prejudiced, but I think that Leonard Slatkin's rendition of Land of Hope and Glory was the best I've ever heard. (Not surprisingly, I also prefer his recording of Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1 to other recordings of the piece.)

With respect to one writer's suggestion of a trumpet obligato for Jerusalem, I heard it performed with one once, and it did not enhance Elgar's setting of Parry - though perhaps the writer could produce a better obligato than the one I heard! The rest of the concert was superb both in its selections (traditional and modern) and its performances; I hope it will soon be released on CD and/or DVD.
Anthony Monti, USA

Watched Last Night on the pc and loved it! Have seen it on TV, by chance, previously. With a Scottish/English background, I think the flagwaving and patriotism are super. I do hope at some time to attend Albert Hall and see it live!! That would be brilliant. Keep up the good work.
Lynda, Canada

We had a wonderful evening in Hyde Park last night, The only bad things were the number of people who appeared to have no interest in the music and talked through every live performance, and the fact that Bryn Terfel and Ruthie Henshall's final duet was cut from the programme. We still had a great time. Thanks to everyone who made it possible (especially Bryn, but then I'm biased!)
Sue, Pontardawe, Wales

Bah-Humbug, to all those nit-picking the performance of Last Night Of The Proms and the same to those who believe that we should not be waving flags. It was a great night full of wonderful music and also a night to feel and be proud that your British.
Iain C, UK

As ever a wonderful musical festival, made all the better by the link-ups with Hyde Park, Belfast, Swansea and Glasgow. The musical standards were uniformly high and the setting of Danny Boy by the (unaccompanied) Belfast choir was the most moving thing I have heard in a long time. However we do seem to hear the same setting of "Jerusalem" every year. This is badly in need of a trumpet obligato and I want it known that I am happy to write one myself free of charge if the BBC symphony orchestra ask me.
Chris Oakley, UK

Tickets are released for sale very late - especially for ex-pats who have to plan well ahead for an overseas trip. Suggest early release for people overseas next year. Aldo no follow up to subscribers via email.
Denise Blum, Singapore (England)

Better than last year, but missed the soloist in Rule Britannia! Perhaps a soloist with the required "volume" could not be found, some in the past have been drowned out.
M Ellis, England

I have so missed the proms. As I moved to the USA from South Wales three years ago, this year I was able to watch it on my pc. It was brilliant, just being able to take part in all the jollity has put me on such a high. I could watch and listen to it again and again. Roll on next season!!
Jan Cochran, USA

A great prom season, a fantastic end and I love being British! The Massenet's Meditation played by Leila Josefowicz was divine, to hold the audience like that, shows immense skill and talent. A mention to the singers of Danny boy, well done it took guts to stand there and sing with all that pressure on you. Well done beeb, looking forward to the next season, save me a seat!
C. Machine, England

It was the first time i had ever seen the last night of the proms, my Mother over the years was always telling me how great it was and what i had missed and now i can see what she meant. If the other years were like last night then i very much regret missing them, it was a fantastic evening the atmosphere came through the television and the solo violinist Leila Josefowicz was unbelievable..
Peter Custance, England

I watched here in Connecticut via the internet; clear as a bell and not a single hiccup in reception. Well produced and choreographed, the whole thing was just superb. Well done!

That said, I'd like to have seen an opera singer do the whole of Rule Britannia - I, for one, think a few hours of jingoism, large flags, and flagrant patriotism once a year is just fine. I'm afraid my fellow correspondent Adam Thomson of Belgium needs to lighten up a bit!
Mark M. Newdick, US/UK

My younger brother and I loved our first Last Night of the Proms! The atmosphere was fantastic, especially in the arena, and my ambition is now to return as a Prommer next year. The variety of music performed was exciting, and the standard extremely high throughout. Well done to everyone who took part!
Lucy Beaumont, UK

I was introduced to two performers who I had not heard before. Leila Josefowicz made the violin talk so sweetly and Angela Gheorgiu moved me beyond belief, what a tragedy that classical CD's are so expensive as 16 is just too much for me against my disability income, what I wouldn't give to have her truly wonderful voice available on demand in my house. Her voice is so powerful coming from such a petit frame. It was a joy in itself to witness both the young ladies obvious pleasure at being part of the evenings festivities. Thank you BBC for such a spectacle, someone in fact a large team I suspect worked long and hard to produce such an event. I did not like Joseph Phibbs piece I am afraid just a disconnected noise to my ears. I think the Last night should remain traditional would be my only criticism.
Roger, England

I enjoyed the whole thing much more than usual. The highlights were the choral performances from Glasgow, Belfast and Swansea, though - particularly the arrangement of Loch Lomond. I'd love to find out who created all those arrangements - they were really beautiful.
Jocelyn Lavin, UK

The atmosphere was fantastic, even though I was glad to see foreign flags, as well as many European ones and one United Nations one. The event can do with a little bit of widened focus in its colouring. While I found Josefowicz playing satisfactory - her pieces were not exactly demanding in their musical depth - her demeanour seemed a bit showy. Angela Gheorgiu was very convincing, though and she is one of the few soloists who can conquer even the mediocre acoustics of the Royal Albert Hall. A wonderful ending to a great season.
Lukas Bernstein, United Kingdom

I listened to the Last Night of the Proms online and even though I wasn't watching the live feed, nor could see it on the telly, still managed to get some of the wonderful atmosphere of the Proms!
Lynne Akom, USA

As an expatriate Scotsman who, after 23 years in this country, is often asked what I miss most about Britain, invariably include at the top of my list "The Proms, especially the Last Night" Thank goodness Public Broadcasting here will air it(less the atmosphere!)in the very near future.
Allan F. Cameron, United States of America

My highlight of the evening? The "variation" of the "Hornpipe" as played by the solo violin. I was on the edge of my seat thrilled that someone had the "nerve" to so change an institution!! The look on his violinist neighbour's face was a picture to behold as he teased the audience. Would that he was more closely miked so that the audience reaction did not mask his virtuosity. Maybe a recording including this variation will appear soon in the shops. I hope so... Well done to all !!!
John Arnold, England

I watched it on TV. It was my first time ever, so I don't know, if it was better than last year. But what I do know is that it was great, I liked it a lot and will surely make a habit of watching it!
Louisa Burgsmueller, Germany

The music was generally superb - except for the dire Loch Lomond setting from Glasgow - who in their right mind arranged it in a minor key! But the notion that the Celtic nations would be cheerfully singing along with Rule Britannia ,Jerusalem and the "national" anthem is surely one of your diversity adviser's finest fantasies...
Jim Rae, Scotland

For a last night, I thought it was quite flat this year. There were too many changes in tempo. The violin solo, while beautiful, was a bit boring in my opinion for a Last Night, as was the opera singers Romanian song. I did enjoy the Carmen rendition though. It all seemed to be picking up after that but although it seemed a lovely idea to go around the country, the choices in songs I thought could have been livelier. The Scottish choice was probably the best. Rule Britannia was not quite the same without the opera singer singing the verses, and then when she came out for God Save the Queen, she clearly got the words wrong at one point. On the whole, since this was my first opportunity to watch the Last Night in several years, I was disappointed.
Ynara, UK

I listened to Proms in the Park on Radio Wales, via internet, and found both the reception and programme excellent. The programme was very well balanced and pleasing one would think to all tastes.
j.evans, Switzerland

i watched the Proms last, it was great the orchestra need to pat themselves on the back for yet again a brilliant job well done. It was nice all four regions of Great Britain included, long it may last. Yet again the great BBC has shown not just to the home nations but to the world why it is a Great British institution. Well done to all, and thank you........see you next year
Kevin Worley, England

Best typographic error ever, when the words of the national anthem were changed on screen to read "defend outlaws". The jazz was not to my taste, but each to his own. Despite that had a great night in Hyde Park. Next year we're aiming for the Albert Hall!
S Shepherd, England

By and large enjoyable to watch on TV. The Roman Carnival Overture was quite the best I have ever heard. However I think we could lose the big flags in the hall. They symbolised a by-gone jingoistic era and messed up the eye-lines for the TV coverage.
Adam Thomson, Belgium

Thousands enjoy Proms finale
13 Sep 03  |  Entertainment



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