All the fun of the BBC Proms

Today the Cirque du Soleil announces a touring show featuring the songs of Michael Jackson and the BBC Proms 2010 season is launched featuring a concert of film music by Rodgers and Hammerstein, including Carousel, The Sound of Music and South Pacific, plus another paying tribute to Stephen Sondheim. All great fun, but what is the real price of the BBC Proms?

* Full programme for the 2010 BBC Proms season available here.

Base layer image credit: Al Seib and 2005 Cirque du Soleil Inc via Kam Family Blog. Montage is (c) On An Overgrown Path 2010. Any copyrighted material on these pages is included as "fair use", for the purpose of study, review or critical analysis only, and will be removed at the request of copyright owner(s). Report broken links, missing images and errors to - overgrownpath at hotmail dot co dot uk


Pliable said…
Talking of the price of the BBC Proms -
Pliable said…
'Spanish tenor Placido Domingo and Doctor Who's Matt Smith are some of the highlights of this year's BBC Proms, which has just announced its line-up.

ITV lunchtime news presenter Katie Derham is leaving the channel to host some of the Proms coverage on BBC Two.

Other highlights of this year's season include Stephen Fry introducing a complete performance of Wagner's opera The Mastersingers of Nuremberg , starring Bryn Terfel; Jamie Cullum performing in concert; and a celebration of US composer Stephen Sondheim in honour of his 80th birthday.'

It's not that important, it really isn't.
saintrussell said…
"I earnestly hope it may never be necessary to remind the B.B.C. that the perpetuation of the name of Henry Wood in connection with 'The Proms' should be regarded as a sacred trust." (Joe Batten, 1955)
Antoine Leboyer said…
Will I be eternally banned from comments if I publicly admit to enjoying Doctor Who and finding that it is not a bad way to bring kids to her an orchestra ?

Pliable said…
Antoine, both your points are well made. But this is not about the merits of Doctor Who or whether novelty Proms get kids to listen to an orchestra. Nor is it about the merits of the music of Richard Rodgers whose scores for the Victory at Sea TV series sparked my interest in orchestral music in the 1950s.

In fact it suits BBC Radio 3 controller and Proms director Roger Wright and his magic circle if this becomes an argument about ‘dumbing down’ or about whether Doctor Who should feature at the Proms. It suits him because it deflects attention away from the following much more important points:

BBC Radio 3 is not funded to promote live concerts for children or adults. It is funded to provide a quality arts programming network for UK license payers. By any criteria, objective or subjective, it is failing to do this – see data below. This failure is being hidden by an increasingly frantic smoke and mirrors routine of which the Proms and Doctor Who events are part.

The UK has a perfectly acceptable popular classical format station in Classic FM. It does not need another one, especially one funded by a poll tax on UK residents. BBC Radio 3 does not have a mandate to re-invent itself as another Classic FM complete with Rodgers and Hammerstein, Stephen Sondheim etc. just as the BBC does not have a mandate to buy publishers such as Lonely Planet Guides nor become an online newspaper with its website. What it does have is a toothless BBC Trust that is allowing this to happen.

All that not withstanding the BBC has its own network, BBC Radio 2, which caters perfectly well for fans of Jamie Cullum and similar music. Classic FM and Radio 2 are between them covering the bases. So why does BBC Radio 3 need to replicate this repertoire?

The classical music community, not just the BBC, really needs to sit down and come up with some hard facts as to whether the never ending series of gimmicks is actually attracting new audiences. So far there appears to be no factual support for this at all.

My statement is based on empirical data in the form of the official RAJAR figures for UK radio audiences. The latest RAJAR data shows that in Q4 ending December 2009 1.874 million people listened to BBC Radio 3 for on average 5.8 hours. In the same quarter in 2008 1.981 million listened for 6.4 hours, while in 2007 1.950 million listened for 6.1 hours. In Q4 2009 Classic FM had 5.134m listeners listening for an average of 6.8 hours.

So despite gimmick after gimmick BBC Radio 3’s audience is declining and is now 37% of Classic FM’s. Coincidentally along the way it has lost many longstanding listeners including me. So much for the Doctor Who effect.
Pliable said…
Email received from Garth Trinkl:

The Minnesota Orchestra performances, under Osmo Vänskä, at the Proms concerts on Aug. 27-28, will be broadcast on Minnesota Public Radio's classical stations.

In December 2009, that orchestra launched a six-concert broadcast series on BBC Radio 3. It is reported to be the only American orchestra to do so in the current season
Pliable said…
Email received:

Is this the institution that premiered "The Mask of Time" all those years ago, or put on "The Mask of Orpheus" last year? There are some attractive events this year, but the only one that promises extraordinary to me is Rattle's period Tristan. This is the most sophisticated audience in the world, they shouldn't waste it.

Steve Freeman

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