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London Music Guide

London Classical Guide

First Night of the Proms

Prom 1:
Friday 18th July, 7.30pm

Shostakovitch - Festive Overture
Tchaikovsky - Piano Concerto No. 1 in B flat minor
Prokofiev - Ivan the Terrible
First Night of the Proms

The night opened to cheers from the hardcore throng of traditional prommers in the main arena of the Royal Albert Hall. Those that chose to stand throughout the opening night did so for a mere 4 UKP in return for performances from the BBC Symphony Orchestra,
the BBC London & Cardiff choruses and a handful of stunning soloists.

The evening opened with Shostakovitch's Festive Overture. Originally written to mark the annual anniversary of the October Revolution, the piece was suitably brassy and set the celebratory mood for the evening. After wowing audiences two years ago the festival, soloist Lang Lang returned this year to perform Tchaikovsky's ever-popular Piano Concerto No. 1. The romantic piano work captivated audiences and highlighted Lang's visible delight at being a memorable part of the opening night. The night closed with Prokofiev's Ivan the Terrible featuring mezzo-soprano Irina Tchistyakova. The theme of Greek tragedy presides over this years 8 week long music festival, and although the opening night was more focused on creating a sense of occasion, much of the two month program draws on Greek mythology and opera.

Having run for over a century now, The Proms continues to increase in popularity. The Royal Albert Hall itself has been the subject of a huge expansion project this year, with intensive refurbishments and extension work concluding just in time for the commencement of the biggest music festival in history. Improvements have seen the addition of the south steps, an underground entrance for stage equipment and changes in the hall's acoustics, creating an impressive platform for one of the world's biggest music festivals.

Helenka Bednar

For information on the 2003 BBC Proms, click here.

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