We are the Last Night of the Proms!

So, the Rainer Hersch Orkestra are finally taking over the Last Night of the Proms.  Okay, this may not be the Albert Hall Last Night, but who needs that vast barn better given over to lion taming than classical concerts?   Not us.  Instead, my Orkestra and I are delighted to have been invited to close the season of Proms at St Jude’s, a world class festival of music and culture which takes place each June in North London.  It’s going to be a gala occasion, not to be missed.  But, hang on a sec, what is the Last Night?  Come to that, what are the Proms?

The Proms, often mistaken by North Americans for that High School party we Brits have only experienced through the movies, is short form for ‘promenade concerts’, a name which dates from a time when the audience did actually stroll around while listening to live music.  Such performances were common in the 19th century, but the most famous of their sort were established in 1895 at the Queen’s Hall, Langham Place.  Less strolling in those days but that didn’t stop them eating, drinking and smoking.  In fact, early Queen’s Hall regulations only forbade gentlemen from ‘striking matches between movements’ and  ‘blowing smoke in the faces of the ladies’.  Compared to that, clapping in the wrong place feels like a very minor offence.

In the wake of assorted bankruptcies and deaths of the founding spirits, the Queen’s Hall Proms were taken over by the BBC in 1927.  Then, following a visit from the Luftwaffe, which burnt their home to a crisp, they were moved lock, stock and barrel to the Albert Hall in South Kensington, where they have stayed ever since.

Now renamed the BBC Proms, the concerts last 8 weeks, which means about 75 fully-fledged orchestral performances featuring the great names in classical music.  And the last night is, well, the final evening of the season.  Nothing unusual about that, all good things have to come to an end, except that, being the final jamboree, the show traditionally involves some flag waving and a generally celebratory spirit, and this is where my Orkestra will take its cue on June 30th 2024 at St Jude’s.

What to expect?  Stunning venue (tick), unbeatable atmosphere (tick), then Land of Hope and Glory, Rule Britannia, the Dambusters’ March and plenty of other great Last Night favourites, all tied up with our trademark comedy and high jinks for orchestra and audience alike.  In addition, as a very special treat, we are welcoming two amazing guests in the form of celebrity choirmaster Gareth Malone and star Bass Baritone James Oldfield.  All in all, it’s going to be a Last Night to remember.  A Last Night to end all Last Nights?  We’ll see.  Maybe it will be the start of another 100-year tradition to rival the BBC, perhaps just minus the bit where everyone wanders around and ladies have smoke blown in their faces.

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