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Bob's choral work should fix the early clappers at the Proms
The music stops; the crowd applauds. And why not? Because the work hasn’t finished. Tut-tuts no doubt greeted the clappers on Monday night midway through the BBC Philharmonic’s superb Proms performance of Mahler’s Symphony No 7, under conductor Gianandrea Noseda. There were mutters of disapproval, too, chez Gray, though on reflection I wondered whether all this alleged crossness wasn’t an example of musical snobbery.
Of course there should be no need for premature applause. If you don’t know the piece, just wait and join in with people around you. At the Proms, you can be sure there won’t be a split second of delay: it is noticeable how many rush to clap instantly the music ceases, utterly destroying the mood it has created, in order to demonstrate to everyone else their familiarity with it. This is snobbery, too.
Nothing so vulgar will be possible at Sunday afternoon’s Prom at which is being unveiled a new work from the Oxford-based composer Bob Chilcott and poet Charles Bennett. The Bach Choir is joined by the BBC Singers, the National Youth Choir of Great Britain, and children from London schools, to perform The Angry Planet, a large-scale unaccompanied cantata set in the darkness of a forest into which creeps the tentative light of dawn. The work was commissioned by The Bach Choir as part of a collaboration with music education charity The Voices Foundation. The children’s contribution develops the environmental theme of the work with folksy, mischievous riddles, primarily about the survival for millions of years of common weeds. The Prom will be signed by Dr Paul Whittaker, artistic director of Music and the Deaf, with a team of signing students. This is a first.
Our reviewer Giles Woodforde will be there. Read his opinion in The Oxford Times next week.