PROM 3: RADIO 1 RELAX AT THE PROMS | London, Royal Albert Hall

For this late-night Prom organised by BBC Radio 1, chamber string orchestra 12Ensemble accompanied an all-black line up of singers and rappers, along with drums, guitar and piano. Although definitely a bold piece of programming for a classical music festival, the concert was a huge hit with the audience. Though the vast Royal Albert Hall was mostly empty, the select audience was far younger and far more diverse than at a typical prom, and still raised the roof with cheers and applause.

Despite the promise of the title, headline rapper Kojey Radical gave us an explosive, high-energy set, duetting with rapper Cashh and singer Poppy Ajudha. 12Ensemble had to fight slightly, to be heard over the bombastic drums, but the interplay of soaring, harmonious string lines brought the music to another level of emotion and drama.

Cashh’s solo song, “Trench Baby”, was similarly high-octane. But Tiana Major9 and Poppy Ajudha opted not to use drums, which allowed us to appreciate the gorgeous sound of the string ensemble. The soft and luscious vocals of singer-songwriter Tiana Major9 opened the concert, with a set that best seemed to match the chill vibes promised by the title.

As always for contemporary-influenced Proms, sound mixing, lighting design and video projections brought everything to another level of brilliance. The massively undersold concert suggests a commercial failure, but Henry Wood would be proud to know that the Proms were still mixing classical music with contemporary, popular repertoire, and appealing to a new audience.

Tickets for all 72 Proms are available from just £7.12 on the BBC Proms 2022 website.

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