PROM 19 & 20: TEN PIECES PROM | BBC Proms 2018

Naomi Wilkinson, musical spell-caster, standing in the middle of the arena with an enchanted staff and cape, cast ten musical spells to summon the return of the Firebird (Nick Barnes Puppets), which has been touring schools nationally since 2015. At the climax of this children’s Prom, the Firebird soared through the auditorium to the thunderous finale of Stravinsky’s The Firebird, and thunderous applause.

Another obvious highlight was “O Fortuna” from Carmina Burana, featuring the overwhelming combo of the Ten Pieces Children’s Choir and the BBC Singers, on top of the BBC Symphony Orchestra, who blew the roof off. Phoenix Dance Theatre’s Youth Academy offered an extraordinarily assured abstract ballet to accompany Mason Bates’ musical palindrome, The Á Bao A Qu.

How do you get young children, especially those from a BAME background, to get excited about posh, stuffy, classical music from the 1700s? One way is to play a piece by composer Chevallier Joseph Bologne, a black immigrant who became the toast of Paris. Another is for us to actually meet Monsieur Bologne (award-winning RSC actor Paapa Essiedu), swaggering in through the auditorium in costume, to introduce his piece.

Rather than simply offering a medley of hits from Harry Potter and Pirates of the Caribbean, this Prom sought to engage young children with the real classics of the repertoire; like Disney’s Fantasia. A brave aim, and an unbelievably impressive Prom.

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

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