Wednesday, September 04, 2002

PROMPONDERENCE: The news that Gareth & Will are "playing" the Proms this year has set a lot of hares running in all sorts of directions, with the times just one of those lining up to report that the duff twosome are supposedly crashing the citadel of Classical Music. Only they're not, of course, they're doing the Proms In The Park - which has always been more Radio 2 than Radio 3 - and even then, they're doing the Children's BBC bit of Proms in the Park - so, about as close to the heart of the Albert Hall as the posturing of the Last Night crowd is to the real spirit of Britain.
Anyway, this hasn't stopped Proms head Nicholas Kenyon rushing up to defend having the stars of ITV's 'anyone can be a pop star' being involved at all.
They are two people that kids really relate to," he said.
"We have to recognise there is no longer a dividing line between the classical and pop worlds. They're not in completely separate camps - there's an overlap.
"We have to respond to what the audience listens to, and the audience's tastes are wider and more volatile than ever."
The audience is a "voracious consumer of all sorts of cultural experience", he said.
But he added: "The Proms will always be a festival based on the great classical repertory"

Now, I've a great deal of respect for Kenyon - or maybe he'd prefer that I have Res-pek for him - but clearly this is blether of the first order. Gareth and Will might be two people that kids can relate to, and audience tastes are wide, but that's not really a reason to include them in a classical music concert - kids like football and can relate to Beckham, but you wouldn't throw a five-a-side footy match into the mix, would you?
And while it's true that there's a lot of crossover between classical and pop, there's surely a better way to illustrate this than plonking a couple of plonkers from the charts onto the line-up? Radio 3 is nowadays packed with shows which occupy space between the Top 40 and the dress circle, but none of those would give housespace to glorified karaoke artists; it's clear the only motivation for the Proms to do so is to get a few more bums on seats (or anthills, this being a park.) Which is fine, and it might have the desired effect (you'll come for the Hits, you'll stay for the Saint-Saens), but it actually seems to reinforce the idea that classical music is difficult, and a pill that needs sweetening with a lot of froth. Which surely should be the exact opposite of the message the C-BBC Proms is for?
Let's throw in some lapdancing, too [BBC] - that seems to go down well...



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