Friday, August 21, 2009


Late Night Prom at the Albert Hall


As Hey Jude kicked in, a couple of brave souls waved lighters in the air. A few more tried the more up-to-date mobile phones. Then, suddenly, it was ukes. Ukuleles of every shape, size and plumage, swaying to the Mélange of the first encore.

Almost every other prommer seemed to be clutching an instrument case: strumming in the long queues, chatting in the bars and corridors.

Good to see a late night sold out, with Arena fairly packed too, and a lusty cheer from the Gallery.

The Ukes programme included many old favourites. It began, appropriately for radio, with Puffin' Billy. A nod to the Proms brand with a low-key Jerusalem, and the interactive highlight, Beethoven/Schiller's Ode to Joy with all 1000+ amateurs strumming along. Strangely muted, I thought, though surely not through modesty. But still very potent, a magic moment of communion in this vast Village Hall.

There are calls for this to be an annual event. But surely we should be looking for something just as off the wall for next year. I don't suppose Nige would lead five hundred grade three fiddles in “Summer”. But Rolf Harris is
very popular, and would certainly pack the Albert Hall. Dust off your didgeridoo, dig out that Stylophone

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