Here’s a piece I recorded when I spoke with Lizzie Rogers who’s a soprano with the BBC Symphony Chorus and will be performing in the Last Night Of The Proms at the Albert Hall. Unfortunately, I lost the bit of our recording where we said witty and profound things one of which was when Lizzie told me that I should spend the second half of my Prom in the pit and at the end of the performance turn around and imagine that the applause was all for me. I tried it and thoroughly recommend this to any new prommer!

 

My First Prom - Cameron Carpenter

When I first thought about writing something for the blog I thought I’d talk about comparing the Proms with an equivalent musical event. I thought about the comparison between Glastonbury and the Proms:

Field Vs Royal Albert Hall = Proms WIN
Crowd surfing Vs Polite clapping = mmm?
Cans of Red Stripe vs glass of cava = Glastonbury win
Copulating with strangers vs exchanging pardon me’s when finding your seat= hmm?

Essentially I thought one was for me and one, the Proms, wasn’t.  That was until I saw this guy sit down at the organ.




Suddenly, I was in Shoreditch. This is Cameron Carpenter an organist. Then I thought I’d write about him and how radical he was and how the audience gasped when he sauntered out. But they didn’t. I did at them, the audience, for not gasping. That’s what I realised about the Proms. There was no point about writing about the Albert Hall, or the audience, or the organist but the only thing I could/should write about is the music.

In my interview with Lizzie Rogers, soprano with the BBC Symphony Chorus, I talked to her about how old fashioned I thought ‘enforced’ silence was. She explained it allowed you to find your own personal place from which to really experience the music. She was right. Sitting in complete silence was far from being passive but fully enabled me to absorb the music.

He totally blew me away. I had always thought Bach was music to commit a crime to. It’s so dark and heavy and ominous. But this was spooky. Like being in a David Lynch film. At points I thought it was like listening to distorted lift music, or the opening theme to an American day-time soap.  The way in which he mixed his American glamour with sheer booming Bach was incredible. I’m not musical but I knew I had just listened to something special when I felt the sudden urge to climb up to where the organ was and launch the bronze bust into the air but good sense prevailed and I left in an orderly fashion.

By Jess Bunch

 

If you were on a castaway on a desert island, which Proms would you save?!
Tonight is Prom 70: Desert Island Discs 70th Anniversary Prom
Kirsty Young talks about the special BBC Prom tonight to mark 70 years of Desert Island Discs… http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/19429185

We have opened up the idea to twitter, asking for #desertislandproms
Here are some great ones:
Zeb Soanes, BBC Radio 4 Newsreader:
"Colleague Brian Perkins being symphonically swallowed in Tavener’s The Whale (2008), John Wilson’s MGM Musicals (2009) and from this year the Aldeburgh World Orchestra’s Rite of Spring"

From listeners on twitter:
Gill Jones ‏@gsjuptonpark68 @bbcproms Wagner prom with Placido Domingo and Bryn Terfel, Bernstein conducting Mahler’s no. 5 and My Fair Lady
Linda Semple ‏@LindaFSemple @bbcproms #desertislandproms also Dame Janet’s last ever appearance in semi-staged ‘Orfeo ed Eurydice’. Lemieux & Jaroussky last year.
Úna-F Clarke ‏@ufclarke . @bbcproms Claudio Abbado/Lucerne Festival Orchestra, Mahler Symphony No. 3 in 2007 #desertislandproms
Paddy Briggs ‏@PaddyBriggs #desertislandproms @bbcproms Meistersinger Overture Bruch Violin concerto Rachmaninov 2nd Symphony (Elgar Nimrod as encore)

If you were on a castaway on a desert island, which Proms would you save?!

Tonight is Prom 70: Desert Island Discs 70th Anniversary Prom

Kirsty Young talks about the special BBC Prom tonight to mark 70 years of Desert Island Discs… http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/19429185

We have opened up the idea to twitter, asking for #desertislandproms

Here are some great ones:

Zeb Soanes, BBC Radio 4 Newsreader:

"Colleague Brian Perkins being symphonically swallowed in Tavener’s The Whale (2008), John Wilson’s MGM Musicals (2009) and from this year the Aldeburgh World Orchestra’s Rite of Spring"

From listeners on twitter:

Gill Jones ‏@gsjuptonpark68 @bbcproms Wagner prom with Placido Domingo and Bryn Terfel, Bernstein conducting Mahler’s no. 5 and My Fair Lady

Linda Semple ‏@LindaFSemple @bbcproms #desertislandproms also Dame Janet’s last ever appearance in semi-staged ‘Orfeo ed Eurydice’. Lemieux & Jaroussky last year.

Úna-F Clarke ‏@ufclarke . @bbcproms Claudio Abbado/Lucerne Festival Orchestra, Mahler Symphony No. 3 in 2007 #desertislandproms

Paddy Briggs ‏@PaddyBriggs #desertislandproms @bbcproms Meistersinger Overture Bruch Violin concerto Rachmaninov 2nd Symphony (Elgar Nimrod as encore)

I used to go to the Proms every year with my Dad. Playing ‘cello until my late teens, it was great to come to London, buy some cheap tickets and sit in the gods, hearing instruments played as they should be, not as my school orchestra attempted.

 

Sadly as I grew up, things got in the way and I never returned to a Prom. That was until #prom47 tempted me back.  A John Cage extravaganza, with a helpful lecture and a walk first to get us in the mood for an evening of this surprising maverick of classical music.

 

My knowledge of Cage before was limited to the infamous 4’33 – and when I told friends I was going to this Prom that proved to be their reference point too, with sarcastic comments like ‘turn off your mobile’ and ‘wave a lighter in the air’. Therefore, I was thankful for the Proms Plus intro, explaining to me that the purpose of that work was to focus on the background noise instead of the silence.  The session went on to discuss more about Cage’s intentions in using untraditional instruments – we created a plastic cup orchestra and were told to expect more in the Prom. Plus, we learnt that his method of composing often used the I Ching - an ancient Chinese classic text – to create music using chance instead of order.

 

After some mental exercise it was the turn of our legs to be stretched as we set out on a walk of South Kensington in pursuit of more Cage enlightenment. In typical Lynda fashion I got lost and didn’t quite follow as directed, but loved following giant mushrooms on placards whilst waving at strangers and watching clocks tick. The walk ended beautifully as the sun set over the Al Wei Wei Serpentine pavilion where a model of the Royal Albert Hall floated on the water.

 

We then passed the Albert Memorial into the RAH for the main event. From the off it was clear that this was going to be an interesting night, with pianos were dotted around the room and the box next to ours filled with various bowls, sticks and plants. The night started with 1O1, named after the number of musicians and performed without a conductor but instead with big screens counting down 12 minutes to instruct the players. The night continued with music cascading from around the hall, singers in doorways, theremins and incredible prepared piano pieces, until the final piece, Branches, where musicians carefully plucked cacti to create a haunting and discordant sound.

 

It wasn’t an easy night of music, but feeling of being surrounded by fascinating and incongruous sounds was magical. I asked Twitter for some tips and was told by @mattsouthcombe to ‘Listen with my eyes’.  Great advice for an incredible prom.

Lynda Davies is a producer from Music Events Interactive @lyndada

Hannah Labus, 17,  is a member of the National Youth Brass Band.

On the 2012 easter course of the National Youth Brass Band of Great Britain, we were told about an exciting venue that we would be performing in at the end of the summer course. At this point we could not be told what this venue was, but many ideas went across back and forth throughout the band, one of which being the BBC Proms in the Royal Albert Hall. A month or so later, this was confirmed.

Between the courses, many other concerts and performances took place as a result of our upcoming concert at the Proms. These included playing live on BBC Radio 3 as part of the 2012 Proms Review and playing in the Queen Elizabeth Hall. These performances in themselves were inspirational to be a part of.

When our summer course began at the beginning of August, quickly began learning the repertoire which consisted of Blitz, Altitude, Wildfire, Chorale and Variations and a world premiere of Gavin Bryars’ After the Underworlds. This new piece was commissioned by the BBC especially for this performance by us and was a great privilege. This was helped greatly by the music staff. They included; Helen Williams, Glyn Williams, Mark Wilkinson, Martin Armstrong, Chris Stearn and Phil Goodwin.

A week later and we arrived at the Albert Hall for a rehearsal. This for most of the band was our first experience of playing in the Royal Albert Hall. It was amazing and very surreal. It was quite strange getting used to the very unique acoustic of the hall as there is nothing quite like it. We then left and came back the next day to perform in Prom 40 with the National Youth Wind Orchestra.

Waiting backstage, we got a little nervous and very excited knowing we would shortly be playing at such a prestigious event that most aim at doing at the top of their career!

We all wanted to do so well for ourselves and to give something back to our inspirational conductor and artistic director Bramwell Tovey who put so much work into getting it right.
Once out on the stage we were overwhelmed and thrilled to be there and seeing so many people in the audience was amazing and we played our best.

For everyone in the 80-strong band, this will be an experience we will never forget and we all feel so privileged to have been asked to do it. I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone at the BBC, all the music and house staff at NYBBGB, everyone behind the scenes at NYBBGB and the Proms team and of course not forgetting our incredible conductor Bramwell Tovey. Also well done to the NYWO for their brilliant playing!

Hannah Labus

 

In the photo the girls L to R are Elizabeth Tonge, Georgie Evans and Hannah Labus

A Day In The Life of…Catherine Cook, Marketing Manager

 

Catherine has been with the BBC Proms since 2006, she currently job shares as Marketing Manager (Maternity Cover) with Ellie Hoskin.

 

9.30am at her desk in Broadcasting House, checking emails, sales figures from the night before and the weeks ahead.

Keeping up to date with social media, the Proms site homepage, placing adverts in national press and magazines.

 

2pm lunch, usually 10 minutes, and only when she realises she’s hungry

 

3pm The afternoon consists of churning out adverts, keeping up with changes to the website and getting stuck into the minutiae of ticket sales for 92 different concerts.

 

5pm If she needs to nip to the Albert Hall she’ll jump on a Boris bike, it’s the quickest route!

 

What’s coming up?

She’s currently looking ahead to Proms In The Park: keeping ticket sales ticking over, getting stage and venue branding produced, liaising with BBC suppliers and event producers.

She admits to being ‘obsessed with sales figures’ and she loves ‘making it all work.’

 

What about the rest of the year?

The year outside the Proms is ‘quiet in September-November, creating post campaign analysis and audience research. It gears up after Christmas, then by February and March we’re back in full swing.’

 

If someone wanted to do your job what steps would they have to take to get there?

‘Experience of marketing, preferably for live events or music organizations, with a strong interest in classical music.  Throw yourself into it, know what you want to do and do it well.  You have to be the sort of person that just gets on with it.’

 

Catherine gives Proms Props to her boss Kate for allowing her to job share with Ellie, as they both have children.  ‘The Proms is quite a female dominated office, our male colleagues have to hold their own!’

 

 

Thanks Catherine for letting me talk to you about your job!

 

 

Catherine spoke to Amy Redmond, Social Media Producer @amyredz

 

When I arrived at the Royal Albert Hall for my Social Media reporting assignment about two hours before the concert, the men in the Hall were just wheeling a piano about that John Cage himself had just altered with screws in the strings to change the sound of it for tomorrow’s concert.

A huge floor area next to the stage was opened and it was lowered down to be stored underneath the stage in a sort of piano park where about five pianos were sitting peacefully next to each other. I then noticed that a few camera men were gathering around an amazing camera that is called Omni-Camera or Panoramic Camera which has a larger than normal camera dynamic range. It sits on a large box about 2 metres high and has six cameras pointing at angled mirrors that capture a picture of the stage and Hall in a 180 degrees radius without distorting the picture at the edges.

The camera shows the picture in more detail in the black and white or dark and bright areas of the viewing object.  It also has a ball-shaped microphone on top, named Eigen-Mike, which has 32 microphones in it that can ‘audio’ zoom in when a particular scene is being focused on. Apparently, the whole thing is six times better than HD. The whole project to develop this proto-type camera is EU funded and has the BBC working with Fraunhofer/Heinrich Hertz Institute, a Research and Development company from Germany, and other companies working in the field to develop this technology. The project is called “Fascinate” I was given a very interesting talk from Hannah Fraser of the BBC Research & Development department and someone from Fraunhofer about the camera and how it works. They then took me underneath the Arena and showed me the “behind the scenes” part of it. The German colleagues from various companies showed me the screen with the picture the camera can take and it was truly amazing to see the Royal Albert Hall’s stage and nearby seats in absolute straightness in 180 degrees, without any distortion .

The processing part of the camera and other equipment was located with the colleagues downstairs and they could zoom in and choose close up views with a tracker ball.  The camera is being trialled for Sports and cultural events in Europe and a cinema that can show the relevant film results in a 180 degree view is located in Berlin. They are also working on a mobile prototype of it to take to live events.  For example, virtual directing can be programmed into the camera at a football match, where the programmed camera follows the ball, or fouls etc.  Those different scenes can be streamed next to each other and it’s guaranteed that the camera films every occurrence on the pitch.  One has to say though that the development of the viewing technology will also have to be developed to truly appreciate this new technology. The people I spoke to all praised the team spirit and the good collaboration of everyone on the project. It sounded really positive and innovative, a vision of the future.

I talked to a lot of people: The first couple I spoke to had come down from Derbyshire just for the music. They loved Vaughan Williams and made a trip of it and stayed with relatives in London. Another gentleman (who lives in Cambridge and commutes to London) who stood in the arena is a season ticket holder and decided to “prom” it for this particular concert (i.e. standing in the Arena during the concert) where he wanted to try the acoustics from that space. He thought the true connoisseurs of the music are the “Prommers”, i.e. the ones that stand right in front of the stage where they have a good look and listen of the musicians and the music. I also asked him about the mix of old and new music during the Proms season and he said it was mostly interesting to hear new music but he wasn’t so keen on atonal or dissonant music but understood why composers tried that way of making music. We had quite a philosophical discussion …  The German steward who showed us our seats was charming and so keen on classical music that for the concerts she really wants to be in the Hall for she takes the day off. Combining the love of music with work. Perfect!

The man sitting next to me also came to hear the rare combination of three Vaughan symphonies and fell into a sort of meditation with his eyes closed in the first half. Like all the others he was also very knowledgeable about the music. Especially so the young man I talked to afterwards when I picked up my bike and he was also just about to cycle off. He is an amateur musician (violin and piano) but works as a software engineer during the day. He immediately talked about the nuances of Vaughan Williams’ music that are audible played life as opposed to not being there when recorded on CD and used detailed musical jargon when talking about the concert. It was truly wonderful how much the people who go to the Proms express their love for the music. Looking around in the auditorium I saw people literally moving their bodies to the music. Either they were nodding their heads in rhythm or slightly swayed their upper bodies; and when talking to them I could also see how much they were moved emotionally by the music. The wonderful thing is that music is universal and touches us all in one way or another. I had a wonderful evening with a mixture of looking behind the scenes and talking to the audience. The success of the Proms is also obvious by the sheer number of people trying to catch a bus or going to the Underground station once the concert has finished … about 5000 people making their way home after an enjoyable evening at the Proms. Just wonderful.

Silvia from A&MI

Cactus night for John Cage, prom 47

Cactus night for John Cage, prom 47

Cage walk

Cage walk

Proms plus introduction to John Cage, with Alvin Curran, Ivan Hewett and Martin Handley. With the plastic cup audience orchestra!

Proms plus introduction to John Cage, with Alvin Curran, Ivan Hewett and Martin Handley. With the plastic cup audience orchestra!