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I’m off to the counter-Proms

No reflection on the inundation of Wagner at the BBC Proms, but I’m curious to see how the alternative Bristol Proms take off tonight.

Sparked by the irrepressible director Tom Morris, head of the Bristol Old Vic, and funded by Universal Music, the Bristol Proms are avowedly aimed at bringing in a less concertlike audience to hear young and as-young artists in a more relaxed atmosphere.

This being England, it’s all being done in a very non-combative fashion. The opening soloist in Britsol is Jan Lisiecki, the Polish-Canadian pianist who played the BBC Proms last Thursday. The chair of Bristol Old Vic is Liz Forgan, former head of BBC Radio and Arts Council England, which virtually cut the southwest out of music funding. Classic FM, which is broadcasting the Bristol Proms, has been dissuaded from indulging in BBC bashing.

The Bristol Proms are in the nature of a grand experiment to see is there is an alternative crowd for classical music – different age, different place, different time of day. We’ll keep you posted.

Here’s Tom Morris’s raison d’etre for the show.

bristol proms 

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  1. Geoff Radnor says:

    Jan Lisiecki,that young Canadian, just played at Verbier. He sure gets around, watched him on

  2. richardcarlisle says:


    Have an enjoyable, safe trip … really envy your chance to see Jan.

    Looking forward to your safe return,


  3. PK Miller says:

    I had one experience attending The Proms–and we really have no equivalent here across the “pond.” I thought it was quite irreverent. However, this was closing night, where, I understand, heaven knows, anything goes and maybe heaven doesn’t want to know. But in any event, the more the merrier. We have a problem here, where various once grassroots events have become formal and costly–Albany’s (NY) Tulip Fest, e.g., which started as a grassroots type of thing, is now City sponsored and the nonprofits who started it, almost closed out by increasing registration fees, relegated to a back stretch of Albany’s Washington Park. every year I note how the NYC Pride March has become gaudier, more “sophisticated” and the street fair all commercial, NYC based nonprofits closed out. Let the games begin!

    • What’s important to realise is that the Last Night of the Proms is not meant for one-off drop-ins: it’s a celebration for those of us who’ve attended all the other 71 concerts in the season, which starts in early July. Although there are high jinks in the second half of the evening, close attention is still paid to the music! But it’s the Prommers’ celebration, and we hope that others attending – while very welcome – will take this on board. For those who want something with a different slant, there’s always Proms in the Park.

  4. R. James Tobin says:

    How can any concert be more relaxed than the Proms?!!

  5. robcat2075 says:

    What really is a “more relaxed atmosphere” for a such a concert? What are the things that are done in this pursuit?

    Here in Dallas they have “casual” concerts on some Fridays, but it’s the exact same program they play the rest of the weekend, the only difference appears to be that the musicians are not in black tie attire.

  6. I’ll be very interested to hear your reports of this, Norman; the young of today are the future audiences of the next decade, & it’s a good thing to get them attending classical music events.

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