Friday, July 12, 2013

Which composers are having a hard time at the Proms?


BBC Prom director Roger Wright's assertion in yesterday's sycophantic Telegraph interview that "I do have an enthusiasm for British music, which I think is well-known" passes unchallenged by Ivan Hewett, but not by me. Yes, during Wright's tenure at the Proms many works by popular British composers have been programmed - Vaughan Williams and Britten at tonight's opening concert for instance - and there have been token appearances for more obscure British composers including Havergal Brian's media-friendly Gothic Symphony. But despite Wright saying in the interview that "British music has always been part of the Proms’ mission" there has been no serious attempt by him to mine the rich vein of substantial orchestral works by less well known twentieth-century British composers. For example, since being appointed Proms director in April 2007 he has not programmed a single symphony by Malcolm Arnold, Robert Simpson, Edmund Rubbra or William Alwyn. And the masterly symphonies of that towering figure in British music Arnold Bax have received just one performance in the last six seasons, while the sixtieth anniversary of Bax's death this year is drowned in a sea of rather more media-friendly Wagner. In the interview Roger Wright is surprisingly coy about his enthusiasm for Broadway musicals. But the tweet above reveals all while also giving a whole new meaning to yesterday's warning to be on your guard at the 2013 BBC Proms.

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1 comment:

Pliable said...

In this Telegraph interview Roger Wright says "Our overall budget is around nine million, and around five million of that comes from the licence-payer".

Yet in a 2009 Guardian interview he said "Of the £8.8m budget for the festival, approximately £6m comes from BBC subsidy".

Which means either the BBC Proms subsidy has been cut by £1 million (17%) in four years, or the declared subsidy fluctuates depending on the political climate.

As I said in a recent post "it is impossible to accurately identify how much money is spent on the Proms".

http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2009/apr/08/bbc-proms-2009-preview