Subdued Proms Concludes After Rule Britannia Row


Subdued Proms Concludes After Rule Britannia Row

The BBC insisted its original decision had been driven less by politics than by the limitations imposed on musicians, and choirs in particular, during the pandemic.

But after a backlash in the press, and an intervention by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, it reinstated the lyrics, saying socially-distanced members of the BBC Singers would perform in the Royal Albert Hall’s otherwise empty stalls.

Subdued Proms Concludes After Rule Britannia Row

A subdued version of The Last Night of the Proms has been held in London, after a row over Rule, Britannia! threatened to overshadow the event.

It saw a pared-down version of the BBC Symphony Orchestra play to an empty Royal Albert Hall, in order to comply with coronavirus restrictions.

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After a very public row, the patriotic songs Rule, Britannia! and Land Of Hope And Glory were sung by a small choir.

The BBC was criticised for plans to omit the lyrics last month.

Critics said the words evoked a British colonial, imperialist past that is at odds with the values of modern Britain and the Black Lives Matter movement.

The 2020 Proms season was drastically curtailed by the coronavirus epidemic, with the usual eight-week season cut down to a fortnight of live shows, performed without an audience.

The programme was simplified in other ways, too – mostly featuring smaller works, with UK-based soloists and orchestras.

A reduced orchestra of 65 instead of the usual 300 performed live at the Royal Albert Hall – with the singers stood in the stalls to ensure social distancing.

However, there were some successful attempts to make the best of the situation.

On the opening weekend, Simon Rattle and the London Symphony Orchestra positioned their brass players in boxes around the Albert Hall, answering and colliding with each other as they played Giovanni Gabrieli’s brass Canzons.

Subdued Proms Concludes After Rule Britannia Row

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