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Proms in the Park

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by Kat Parr Mackintosh (subscribe)
Young and coffee in varying degrees, Kat also says stuff @ThoroughlyMode
Published September 8th 2010
London, Saturday September 11: In summer's yellow dying throws, Hyde Park is rousing itself for one last music festival. At the same time, the Royal Albert Hall is preparing for its own musical season finale. They're both hosting the Last Night of the BBC Proms series. One is a night of dickie suits, the other of picnics on the grass. I'll be at the outdoor one every time – the literally named: Proms in the Park.

The indoor and outdoor occasions share a common aim. Which can be summed up as: to bring the best of classical and classical-ish music to the public in an accessible way. When the Proms were invented that meant cheap ticket prices for popular classical music and allowing promenading and picnics in the Royal Albert Hall. The Proms in the Park made the season more accessible still, with line ups that include not just some of the world's best loved classical performers, but also big names in jazz and world music, and usually a bit of family friendly rock or pop thrown in to entice the 'kids' in. It isn't just the music the park event hosts that's what most of us would consider to be a bit more fun, it's also the atmosphere – the picnics are livelier and more liquid, the sing-a-longs are rowdier and the night ends with fireworks.

So you can see how it could be a preferable concert.

The two events share some of the same performers, with live link ups between them and other Proms events happening up and down the country; but the headliners for this years Proms in the Park are (in order of most to least classical): Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, José Carreras, Neil Sedaka and Brian May.

A name that should be on that list but isn't is Terry Wogan – who will definitely be there hosting and is another very good reason to attend. No one does family-friendly dry humour like Wogan. He'll be carrying you though the five hours of music that your ticket will get you; which, as well as including the headliners and smaller acts (Björn Again and the cast of Jersey Boys), will also feature the Last Night of the Proms flag-waving essentials: Rule Britannia, Jerusalem and a sea shanty that I know the dance to but not the name of. Because that's one of the other things the Proms is really about – having a rip roaring sing-a-long about how bloody brilliant the British Empire is. Patriotism isn't something the Brits do every day any more, so the flag waving, Ruling Britannia and tearfully lauding our 'green and pleasant land' creates a collective stirring in the stomach of the crowd that's best compared to that pseudo-fictitious thing: The Perfect New Years Eve.

In this case it's definitely not a dodgy music festival burger that's giving you that feeling: the food is usually good, but pricey, but you're also encouraged to bring some from home. Same goes for drinks – though check the website about bringing glass.

The other thing you need to bring, as well as your picnic and union jack, are the lyrics to the national anthem - if you don't know them - and this year those to the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic 'You'll Never Walk Alone' (the one from the football.). These are the main sing-a-long pieces, and people do STAND AND SING, so while they show them on the big screens everywhere, enthusiastic flag waving might impair your view.

The Proms were designed to be democratic, but you might be musing that the ticket prices for Hyde Park, at £30 each, aren't as democratic as they could be. Consider them then against the prices of other Hyde Park music festivals and they start to look a lot more welcoming. And those other festivals won't send you off with the same rousing sing-a-long feeling of goodwill to all your fellow man, especially the Brits. Long live the Queen!
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Why? For the same rousing, sing-a-long feeling as The Perfect New Years Eve
When: Gates open 4.00pm - entertainment from 5.30pm
Where: Hyde Park, nearest station Marble Arch
Cost: £30.00
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Wednesday, 8th of September @ 09:29 am
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