My own personal version of Desert Island Discs, Track 5, “Land of Hope and Glory”

The Proms 2005. Most people sit, while Promena...

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So I’m British and proud of my (imperfect) country.

For those of you who don’t know, each year the good old BBC (“Auntie”) stages and transmits a whole series of Promenade Concerts (The Proms) from the Royal Albert Hall in London.

This year the concerts run from 16th July through to 11th September.

A good range of orchestras and singers, some world famous, some less so, are chosen to perform a varied selection of music over the season.

The traditional highlight of every Proms season though is the “Last Night”.

This was one of those annual television events that I grew up with, alongside the Eurovision Song Contest, the Queen’s Speech at Christmas, The F.A. Cup Final, the Grand National, Miss World…. They were all a standard part of us joining together as a family when I was young.

The first half of the evening’s concert is usually a well known and popular item, and the national fervour is gradually built up (as tradition dictates) throughout the second half which is where “Land of Hope and Glory” (actually the “trio” theme from Edward Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1, with lyrics by A. C. Benson) fits in.

By the time the “Promenaders” get the chance to join in with the chorus you know the party is in full swing.

Land of Hope and Glory, Mother of the Free,
How shall we extol thee, who are born of thee?
Wider still and wider shall thy bounds be set;
God, who made thee mighty, make thee mightier yet,
God, who made thee mighty, make thee mightier yet.

Over the years the flags being waved have become larger and a lot more varied. Flags from many foreign countries abound, as do regional flags from various parts of the UK. It’s quite fun to try to spot the most obscure flag being waved each year.

Times change, and nowadays the Last Night of the Proms has expanded beyond the RAH into Hyde Park in London and to various sites in cities throughout Britain (the Proms in the Park), where crowds gather to join in the proceedings via large outdoor screens and with their own regional orchestras performing too. The Beeb now cuts to these other sites throughout the proceedings to show us all how the whole nation is joining in with this patriotic display.

I went to an encore performance some years ago at The Hexagon in Reading, and I see that similar events even take place in other countries these days. (Sacriledge 😉 )

Nothing quite compares to the atmosphere inside the RAH itself though, and it’s for that reason that I’ve chosen to show you an older version of events from 1984 where all the action takes place at the home of the Proms.

The picture quality may be a bit dated and scratchy, (I feel that way myself), but it has the added bonus of being the last time that James Loughran conducted proceedings at LNOTP, and he was always my favourite conductor.

I also find it fun to see some of the old “regular faces” who managed to get to the front row year after year. I wonder where they all are now ?

If you’ve never experienced “Last Night Fever” before then you may wonder what I’m wittering on about for the first 2 minutes 31 seconds of this; but hang on in there, enjoy the music, and prepare yourself for the most British of British experiences.

I can’t wait for 11th September. 🙂 I hope Amanda is here by then…

Update: Dammit… I’ll be in China, collecting Amanda. Oh well, can’t have everything…

Previous tracks in the series:

Track 4 – Qué Será

Track 3 – You can call me Al

Track 2 – We’ve only just begun

Track 1 – Saltwater Joys.

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