Is BBC Proms “dumbing down” its programming?

Posted on: July 15, 2011

In Thursday’s (7/14) Telegraph (London), Ivan Hewett writes, “Friday it begins all over again—the tremendous eight-week, non-stop pageant of great music and innocent fun that is the Proms. And it’s the fun bit that once again is bothering some seasoned Prom-watchers. There are dark mutterings that the Proms isn’t as serious as it was, that the Proms in the Parks events and the Comedy Prom and the Horrible Histories Proms are hogging the limelight, and the serious events are being overshadowed. It’s fascinating to see how a series of orchestral concerts has become a focus for all our anxieties about culture. No season is complete now without its ritual accusations of dumbing down. … The worry seems to be that all these populist events—the Proms in the Park, the film-music Proms, the sing-and-play-along Proms Plus events—are distractions from the core classical events. But that’s as much the fault of the media as the Proms. The director Roger Wright does not bang on endlessly about Proms in the Park and John Wilson’s Hooray for Hollywood Prom. He’s just as keen to tell you that this year’s season includes a complete Brahms symphony cycle, some unusually scored concertos, 11 premieres, and a focus on that fine but still neglected British composer Frank Bridge.”

Posted July 15, 2011