by Ann Farmer, The Conservative Woman:
The Last Night of the Proms used to be an innocent occasion. It was, as music critic Ivan Hewett described it yesterday in the Sunday Telegraph, ‘a chance to bob up and down to sea-shanties, get all misty-eyed while singing Jerusalem, and laugh affectionately at some brave foreign-born conductor trying to be properly English and jokey’.
This year, he notes, despite Proms director David Pickard’s insistence that the Last Night is not ‘political’, this season has featured not just one but two concerts in which the threat of environmental catastrophe has loomed large; female composers and conductors as well as racism in Africa have all been prominent.
The Last Night featured the composer Daniel Kidane declaring in the programme note to his new piece entitled Woke: ‘Continued awareness concerning social and racial justice is close to me as a creator.’ Hewitt expresses his relief that the music was much more engaging than the description.
Last Night’s star guest, the American mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton, whose determination to politicise the Proms and turn it into a gender crusade I have already commented on, announced on Twitter that she was ‘proud to bring my own queer fat femme energy to the Last Night’. She appeared in the bisexual pride colours of lavender, pink and blue to sing Rule Britannia, at the climax of which she brandished the gay pride flag.