[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Thursday, 31 July, 2003, 14:01 GMT 15:01 UK
Regal fare at Queen's Prom

by Andrew Walker
BBC News Online Entertainment

The Queen at Prom 17
The Queen met some of the Promenaders

The Queen attended the Proms for the second time on Wednesday night. Prom 17 included works by Edward Elgar and Benjamin Britten.

Even the usual suspects - regular, some would say obsessive Prommers who are a perennial sight in the front row - had spruced themselves up for Her Majesty.

Jackets, muted tee-shirts and combed beards were the order of the night.

The evening opened with Walton's hefty Te Deum. At the helm, Sir Andrew Davis immediately made his mark: the piece featuring two of his creative hallmarks, a sublime understanding of choral music and an almost ineffable attention to detail.

The subtle balancing of a symphony orchestra with five choirs is not easy to achieve. That he pulled it off is testament his abilities and the wise choice of tempering the brass section by splitting it in two.

Click here to review the Prom yourself

Catherine Wyn-Rogers rarely disappoints and the mezzo-soprano did not on Wednesday night. She was given full rein to explore the evocative nature of Elgar's Sea Songs, works which combine emotional depth with a Wagnerian intensity.

Percy Grainger's songs were jazzy and dissonant, but essentially jolly and vivacious. Indeed, during the second, Molly on the Shore, Sir Andrew skipped around the podium like a morris dancer.

Royal Albert Hall
The Proms is in its 109th year
After the interval, Mark-Anthony Turnage's Momentum brought a whole new feel to the Albert Hall.

This American-flavoured work, complete with electric bass guitar and jazz drums, was redolent of the two great Bernsteins, Leonard and Elmer.

It is a pity that the piece received a mixed response from an audience which remained oddly muted for much of the evening.

Sir Michael Tippett's Dance, Clarion Call, was a tightly-performed acapella work, marred only slightly by over-exuberant singing.

As a self-avowed "brazen romantic", the reputation of Sir Arnold Bax took a bashing from modernists.

His tone poem, November Woods, is a lyrical, sweeping, evocation of a storm. This delightful and forensic exposition is reason enough to resurrect Bax's works and was my personal highlight of the night.

The programme closed with that musical test-drive, Brittan's Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra. With virtuoso performances from all parts of the stage, this was a technically excellent and well received end to a truly regal concert.

The Proms concerts take place until 13 September at the Royal Albert Hall, London.

Did you see this Prom? Did the Queen seem to be enjoying herself?

Send us your views on the form below.

I was a at the concert last night and thought the music dreadful! In order to celebrate the 50th anniversary of her coronation I would have hardly thought it necessary for the Queen to sit through the dirge-like Sea Pictures. I really do not know who had a hand in deciding the programme but I don't expect HM to make another visit to the Proms in the future! The best part of the programme was the audience participation in the National Anthem.
Gilly Taylor, UK

I would like to buy a CD of this event. So definitely a good choice.
Gerald Knochenhauer, Germany

A wonderful programme. How do I get a recording of this memorable occasion?
William Frost, U.S.A.

In the States, we were touched by last year's programme after the 11 September incidents - the solidarity with folks in the UK was something in which I took great comfort and pride. This year's programme of music from 1953 to commemorate the coronation seems appropriate and most dignified, and a nice change from last year - well done!
Bruce, USA

I can hardly believe the Queen has only been to the Proms twice...there is such a varied programme every year that I'm sure she could have found something enjoyable - or at least bearable - to be seen to be supporting British arts.
Anon., UK

A Garland For the Queen, performed in 1953, is surely the inspiration for this programme. Sir Arnold Bax wrote a superb piece called What Is It Like (...'to Become a Queen?') for that one and it's interesting to see another of his works included here. The Tippett piece was sung at that time. Christopher Fry wrote the words for it and apparently (elsewhere) the words that later became The Lady's Not for Turning. The Queen..."long may she reign".
Scott, USA

As an ex pat, I take pride in our musical heritage. What a wonderful selection and certainly one that evokes to me all that is great about my country.
Martin Witt, North Canterbury, New Zealand

A fine programme of music, but why was it billed as a British and Commonwealth programme? The only non-UK composer was Grainger, Australian by birth but he spent most of his life in the UK and USA. Therefore the Commonwealth aspect is hardly apt for the programme.
James R. Milne, Canada

The selection of composers seem to be a little bit traditional and "safe". But as a celebration of that year of 1953, and with Her Majesty present, it will sure be a memorable evening. I wish I could be there, too!
Jan Barklund, Sweden

I'm not really sure the programme mattered. Considering that it was probably 30 degrees inside, most people spent their time trying to stay cool rather than listening to the music.
Anon, UK

Your E-mail address

Disclaimer: The BBC may edit your comments and cannot guarantee that all e-mails will be published.

Back to top

In pictures: The Queen at the Proms
30 Jul 03  |  Photo Gallery
Prom marks Queen's milestone
30 Jul 03  |  Entertainment
Proms spectacle begins
18 Jul 03  |  Entertainment
Why the Queen is no culture vulture
29 Jul 03  |  Magazine



News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific