PROM 60: THE DREAM PROM | London, Royal Albert Hall

For the first time, the BBC has created an “Open Music” Prom, with the help of thirty young creatives (some still in their teens), many of whom have never seen a classical music concert before. Though the audience was at less than half capacity, the endeavour seems like a brilliant one, aiming to diversify the BBC Proms’ audience, and offer Prommers something they’ve not seen before.

Conducted by Kwamé Ryan, the BBC Concert Orchestra played us through a diverse programme, with everything from Ravel to Nina Simone. Globally renowned Indian violinist and singer Kala Ramnath provided a musical throughline, bookending the Prom with Lars Møller’s orchestral fusion work “Indian Skies”, as well as contributing to pieces throughout, including to Katherine Priddy’s airy, folksy “The Summer Has Flown” (arr. Pippy Murphy, Jon Hargreaves).

24-year-old Sarah Frances Jenkins’ “Music and Meditation” seemed to be the musical centrepiece, dreamlike in form, with slow, aching chords. Other musical pieces seemed less well-judged, like a weirdly orchestrated “Clair de lune” by Debussy, as well as a vocal-less “Sinnerman” (Nina Simone) and “Lovely Day” (Bill Withers).

The Prom’s weakest aspects were its non-musical elements. Our dreamer hero, actor Omari Douglas (It’s A Sin), acted as a bed-bound narrator, but only spouting cliché, circular monologues. Other spoken offerings by the assembled cast also failed to enhance the show, but the lighting and production design (uncredited) added a huge amount. Hopefully, next year, they’ll do the same, but cut the chat, and let the music do the talking.

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

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