PROM 11: 1969, THE SOUND OF A SUMMER | BBC Proms 2019

A roaring ovation from a full house for this light music Prom, inspired by the film soundtracks and pop charts of 1969, in the style of BBC Radio 2’s popular programme, Friday Night is Music Night. Presented by Lemn Sissay and conducted by Stephen Bell, the BBC Concert Orchestra led us through sweet, easy listening versions of The Beatles, Bowie, Bacharach and beyond.

In an evening full of sugary lollipops, John Barry’s score to On Her Majesty’s Secret Service stood out, as did his theme from Midnight Cowboy, featuring an achingly beautiful harmonica solo (Philip Achille). Nic Raine’s orchestrations are fully faithful to the originals, bringing the music’s camp and nostalgic quality to life.

Not all of the hyper-schmaltzy new arrangements landed, but somehow the intense orchestral sweeps of Richard Balcombe’s orchestration added to Michel Legrand’s “What Are You Doing The Rest Of Your Life”, sung beautifully by Vanessa Haynes. Singer Tony Momrelle also lent his smooth, soulful voice to songs across the evening.

There was some classical repertoire, too: we heard a rousing suite from William Walton’s score to Battle of Britain, and the Will Gregory Moog Ensemble joined the stage for a rendition of Bach’s opening movement to Brandenburg Concerto No. 3, as well as a suite from Will Gregory’s own opera, Journeys into the Sky. But overall, the revolutionary spirit of 1969 was somewhat at odds with the generic, kitschy soundscape of this Prom.

1,350 £6 Promming tickets are available on the day for every performance.

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