Opinion: UK’s Proms concerts need to balance old and new, change with the times

Posted on: July 20, 2022

“In this weekend’s Sunday Telegraph, Stephen Pollard criticized the BBC Proms, saying that the recent broadening of its repertory has betrayed its purpose as a series of classical music concerts. I cannot agree,” writes Nicholas Kenyon in Tuesday’s (7/19) Daily Telegraph (UK). “Proms … premieres of [music by] Debussy, Mahler and Schoenberg, all unfamiliar composers in their day … challenged conventional ideas of great music—like this year’s [Aug. 1] concert of music for computer games…. I was director of the Proms from 1996 to 2007, and my predecessors had only quite recently considered Leonard Bernstein’s music classical enough to appear…. There was also a fuss when Bob Marley’s songs featured in a late-night concert by the King’s Singers, but the audience recognized quality…. Pollard was dismissive of this year’s concert devoted to gaming, but the fact is that the music of the gaming industry can be a springboard for a new generation to learn about classical music…. The Prom will introduce gamers to a live orchestra, which, at a time when arts education is chronically under-invested, feels deeply important. It will also help support the creativity of a new range of composers…. It is all a question of balance.”