Chorus of approval for pomp at the Proms

Sounds of music: Good news for Royal Albert Hall concert-goers and fee-paying choir schools
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The Independent Online
The balloons, klaxons and party poppers banned from the Last Night of Proms are likely to be allowed again under the new director's relaxed regime, it emerged yesterday.

Sir John Drummond, the former director, horrified fun-loving concert- goers when he issued a clampdown last year on "extraneous" noises during the last night of the season at the Royal Albert Hall. But after 10 years at the helm he has been replaced by Nicholas Kenyon, controller of BBC Radio 3, who takes a freer view of the subject.

He admitted: "I don't think people who have been to a high proportion of 72 concerts can be stopped from letting their hair down. I am a 'let joy be unconfined' man myself."

His broadminded attitude is also reflected in the programme for this year's season, the 102nd, which runs from 19 July to 14 September.

For the first time stars, including Joanna Lumley, Paul McCartney and Prunella Scales, have been asked to endorse their favourite composers and the proms programme contains a CD explaining their choices.

Mr Kenyon, who has been working on the schedule for 18 months, has also pushed the boundaries to include jazz and Broadway numbers into what is normally a strict diet of classical fare.

In another attempt to lure in those who would not normally think of attending classical music concerts, Mr Kenyon has initiated a "Junior Prom" with pounds 3-a-seat concerts for schoolchildren aged six to 14. The pieces played will be no longer than seven minutes long. However, Mr Kenyon insisted he had made no radical change to the traditions created by Sir John Drummond. "It's a new era for the Proms, but it's not in any sense a revolution," he said.

"We hope that the CD will draw in audiences who might not otherwise have thought the Proms were for them."

This year's Proms programme promises 79 new works, including 14 premieres. Highlights will be concerts by the Berlin Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony Orchestra and New York Philharmonic.

The Last Night, with its traditional singing of "Land of Hope and Glory", will be spiced up by the London premiere of a new work by Poul Ruders: Concerto in Pieces, a reworking of Purcell.

Sir Georg Solti will conduct the Chicago Symphony Orchestra for Beethoven's Choral Symphony, and the soprano Dawn Upshaw will give a late-night recital. Most prices have been pegged near last year's levels of pounds 18 for a balcony seat, and pounds 2 or pounds 3 to stand. The season ticket (standing at every concert) will be pounds 130.

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