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THE LAST NIGHT OF THE PROMS

15 September 2015

I was lucky enough to spend last Saturday evening in the Royal Albert Hall at the joyous Last Night of the Proms, the final of the eight week summer season of classical concerts.  I've attended lots of Proms over the years and have watched the Last Night on television for as long as I can remember - I've always wanted to go so I was thrilled to tick it off my bucket list.  With hundreds of waving flags from all over the world and lots of the crowd in fancy dress, tuxedos or face paint with balloons, bouncing beach balls, rattles, klaxons, whistles and party poppers, the atmosphere is as fantastic as it looks.

Last Night of the Proms 2015 at the Royal Albert Hall, London

American conductor Marin Alsop was the first female to lead the iconic Prom #76 in 2013 and she was back this year to lead the BBC Symphony Orchestra, BBC Singers and BBC Symphony Chorus for three hours of new and old classical music before giving a passionate speech at the end calling for gender equality and arts funding. And taking a photo with a selfie stick. Very modern.

Last Night of the Proms 2015 at the Royal Albert Hall, London

Last Night of the Proms 2015 at the Royal Albert Hall, London

My favourite pieces included Shostakovich's soothing Piano Concerto No. 2 in F major, beautifully played by young British pianist Benjamin Grosvenor, Puccini's opera arias sung by the handsome German tenor Jonas Kaufmann (who had knickers thrown at him on stage), Johnson's lively Victory Stride, Gershwin's Love Walked In and a sing-a-long to The Sound of Music medley to celebrate the film's 50th anniversary, led by the gorgeous Australian-American Soprano Danielle de Niese with verses sung via big screen from singers at the Proms in the Park events in Hyde Park, Singleton Park in Swansea, Glasgow Green and Titanic Slipways in Belfast.

Last Night of the Proms 2015 at the Royal Albert Hall, London

Last Night of the Proms 2015 at the Royal Albert Hall, London

There are so many Proms traditions from the "Heave, ho!" when the piano lid is lifted and Sir Henry Wood's bust dressed with a laurel chaplet, everyone cheering when the first note of the piano is played, the Promenaders shouting how much they've raised for a good cause each year to the traditional bobbing from the 1,350 Prommers standing in the main area.

Last Night of the Proms 2015 at the Royal Albert Hall, London

Last Night of the Proms 2015 at the Royal Albert Hall, London

The performance ended with a rousing rendition of the Last Night favourites: Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance (always played twice), Rule, Britannia!Jerusalem, the National Anthem and Auld Lang Syne. It's an emotionally-charged event - I was in tears singing "Land of Hope and Glory..." and sat next to a German couple who had watched the Last Night together for 26 years and applied for the ballot for 15 years before finally getting tickets. On the other side was a teary-eyed American and in front was a Polish woman draped in red and white dabbing her eyes with a handkerchief.  It's a rapturous, jubilant celebration of music and feels like such a special occasion - if you're lucky enough to get a ticket, you're in for a wonderful evening you'll never forget.

Read more about the BBC Proms

Last Night of the Proms 2015 at the Royal Albert Hall, London

Last Night of the Proms 2015 at the Royal Albert Hall, London

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