Last Night of the Proms

Last Night Of The Proms ASO 2015Adelaide Symphony Orchestra. Festival Theatre. 27 Mar 2015


The proms are a jolly affair and a real money spinner for the ASO. Every Anglophile and closet Anglophile posing as a music lover is there. It’s always a bumper crowd and everyone has a ball, right from the curtain-raising lusty rendition of God Save Her Maj through to that favorite old belter Pomp & Circumstance No. 1 that sends us all home glad that we were spawned from the loins of Mother England!


Throw in a few perennial favorites like Zadok the Priest, Crown Imperial, Jerusalem and Rule Brittania! and it almost doesn’t matter about whatever is left on the program, because we are nearly all three-parts inebriated with nostalgic patriotic fervor and we have all sung our fill in the choral mosh pit that was once the theatre.


However, it does matter what else is on the program, and it seems to me that pieces such as Ronald Binge’s Sailing By and Karl Jenkins’ Exultate Jubilate shouldn’t really get a guernsey at such an event, but hey, I’m not the programmer, and technically demanding anthems like Zadok really need to be sung (and conducted) with more discipline than they were. But, these are minor grizzles.


The evening began in high expectation with the brightly decorated stage full to overflowing with a hybrid choir of around 100 (comprising the Adelaide Philharmonia Chorus and the Marryatville High School Concert Choir), the mighty ASO, and… joy of joys… the colossal Silver Jubilee Organ! Flags (apparently hung incorrectly, according to a purist who has nothing else in the world to worry about) and Britannia bunting adorned the stage and guest conductor Guy Noble owned it all; his humorous and irreverent badinage had the audience howling with laughter. He then nonchalantly flicked his right wrist and set the snare drum into action welcoming the fanfare team of the South Australian Police Band onto stage and kicking off the performance. Whether one is a monarchist or a republican, it was electric stuff.


Despite the low brow nature of the evening, there was still much fine musicianship in evidence as one would expect from the ASO. The woodwinds were especially fine, with Geoffrey Collins on flute and Celia Craig on oboe giving object lessons in tonality. Martin Phillipson’s ‘horse’ trumpet in the Ascot Gavotte was highly entertaining.


The highlight of the evening was Greta Bradman’s performance of the chilling aria Casta Diva from Bellini’s opera Norma. This particular aria is demanding and sits in a not entirely comfortable register for a soprano, but she sang it with style, accomplishment and great conviction. It is an aria that needs to be ‘sold’, and sell it she did. Bradman’s voice seems to get better and better. Her performances of You’ll Never Walk Alone from Carousel and I Could Have Danced All Night from My Fair Lady were froth and bubble but they demonstrated the power and artistry of her voice.


And to bring us all back to earth at the end, an encore of Waltzing Matilda brought the best and worst out of our collective voices, but who cares – after all, it is the last night of the proms, and we can get back to normal next week!


Kym Clayton


When: Closed

Where: Festival Theatre

Bookings: Closed