Proms fans reject morning overture

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The Independent Online
THE BRITISH love a good symphony orchestra. The world's most famous symphony orchestra, the Berlin Philharmonic, loves the British, and chose to give its annual May Day concert here at the Royal Albert Hall today. The orchestra loves the Proms and was guaranteed the seats would be taken out for a Promenade concert. There should have been perfect harmony, writes David Lister.

Yet, to the orchestra's consternation, hundreds of tickets to the concert, its only appearance in Britain this year, remain unsold. This might have something to do with the fact that the first notes of Tchaikovsky's Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture will be struck at 10.30am.

Nobody seems to have told the Berlin Philharmonic that the atmosphere and enthusiasm that comes with the traditional Proms season cannot necessarily be translated to spring. More importantly, the British are not used to attending concerts so soon after breakfast.

Martin Campbell-White, chief executive of the concert promoters Harold Holt, said: 'We did try to tell them that the morning is not a normal time for music in Britain - but they were determined. If we get a full house it will be a miracle.'

Bernard Haitink, who is conducting the concert, said: 'The British have a love of eccentricity, and maybe they will think it eccentric to come to a concert at 10.30am.'

Haitink interview, page 24