The BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall

London Travel Blog

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Royal Albert Hall - the organ

Tonight, my mum and I went to the Royal Albert Hall for one of the Proms.  The Proms are an important British tradition.  The rough idea, established 115 years ago, was that normal people should be able to afford to go to “promenade concerts,” top quality classical music in an informal atmosphere.   The Promenade part refers to the cheap, standing places that you can queue for on teh day.  Today, the concerts run for about two months over the summer and are sponsored by the might of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), who broadcast all of them on Radio 3 and some of them on BBC 2 Television.  This means that the founder’s vision of getting gmusic to the masses is able to continue.  If all this sounds a little like I swallowed a whole bunch of propaganda, then tough.

Royal Albert Hall
I think the Proms are a wonderful thing.  My tickets cost a princely £12, albeit in the part of the hall where you can’t see much, and you can get tickets for £5 if you queue up on the day.  There are more expensive tickets, depending on your view.  That is significantly less than a rock concert for a band you have hardly heard of in a provincial city, for a seat in the Albert Hall to see a great orchestra.

 

In my case, I had been really keen to see Daniel Barenboim’s West-East Divan orchestra, which is a joint Arab and Jewish orchestra.  They were absolutely fantastic, and the acoustics are incredible in the hall.

Our view
 Apparently, if I had known the first thing about opera, then the singers would have been familiar household names (particularly Sir John Tomlinson?  I am not quite classy enough to know!); as it is, I can only say that the experience was incredible.  I only go to maybe one classical thing every other year, but this has made me far keener to go to more.  The acoustics were so good that when Barenboim wanted to speak to the crowds at the end, after the sixth or so time we had called the singers back on for a bow, we were all able to hear him, without a mic.  Of course, the fact we all shooshed to listen is due to his amazing manner and personality.  He just had to drop his hand slightly and the crowd shut right up.

 

On the way to the Royal Albert Hall, mum and I had stopped to have dinner in the Prince of Wales round the corner.  I’d recommend it. They have nice pie and mash and the service is quick and friendly. 

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Royal Albert Hall - the organ
Royal Albert Hall - the organ
Royal Albert Hall
Royal Albert Hall
Our view
Our view
Prince of Wales
Prince of Wales
Typical British pub decoration
Typical British pub decoration
London
photo by: ulysses