First female conductor, Marin Alsop, rocks Last Prom

 

You could not have dreamed up a better PR warm-up than the one for this Last Night of the Proms, with Nigel Kennedy's multiple baiting of the PC police, and Joyce DiDonato telling all who would listen about her Vivienne Westwood frocks.

Meanwhile, Vasily Petrenko's inflammatory remarks about the inappropriateness of female conductors prepared the ground for the figure on the podium: the American conductor Marin Alsop. Her appointment as first-ever female conductor of the Last Prom seemed seriously overdue.

The house went wild even before her first incisive downbeat, launching a variegated bill with the BBC Symphony Orchestra and its Chorus on top form – as were the soloists. Countertenor Iestyn Davies effortlessly projected his vibrato-free sound in Bernstein's "Chichester Psalms", and the air-punching turnip-head who followed him didn't mess about: when Kennedy soared aloft in "The Lark Ascending", it was with the purest thread of melody, perfect from start to finish. DiDonato didn't mess about either.

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