As the iconic BBC Proms is coming to Dubai Opera. Find out more
Every summer, London’s Royal Albert Hall becomes home to one of the world’s greatest festivals of classical music. The first BBC Proms was held way back in 1895 (stay with us here, we won’t go on about history for too long), but the tradition itself is far older, beginning around the middle of the 18th century.
Short for “promenade concert”, proms were held outdoors in London’s gardens so that the public could enjoy a leisurely stroll while listening to the orchestra (which is why so many parks in the UK have bandstands, in case you ever wondered). Prommers, or promenaders, were also terms used to describe members of the audience who purchased the cheaper standing tickets inside concert halls.
So from the very beginning, The Proms was intended to be accessible and enjoyed by all. Push those images of suited and booted gentlemen and evening-gowned ladies out of your mind. It’s not as exclusive as you might think, and you don’t need to know your Stravinsky from your Tchaikovsky to enjoy it.
The programme changes every year, and its scope is far wider than the famous classical composers. In fact, last year, as part of The Proms 2016, an entire concert was dedicated to jazz legend Quincy Jones.
Yes, you can hear Walton’s Symphony No 1, classics such as Rule Britannia and choral performances of Everything Stops for Tea. But there will be a regional twist on the concerts, too, with plenty of Arabian traditions being woven into the programme, from Dubai-based composers to contemporary oud players.
BBC Proms Dubai will open the world premiere, for example, of Flare, by Dubai-based composer Joanna Marsh (including works by Mozart, Mendelssohn and Elgar), and Middle Eastern jazz fusion and oud player Joseph Tawadros will be on stage for a late-night show of skilled lyricism and modern Arabian music.
It gives this iteration of the festival a unique identity, and one that celebrates classic, as well as classical, music in all its genres and forms.
Though the official summer season will still take place between July and September in London, BBC Proms Dubai is a new festival, and only the second Proms event ever to be held outside of the UK (the first was held in Australia last year). The four-day event will bring the city a taste of the festival, even rounding things off with an edition of the famous Last Night of the Proms. In keeping with its historic traditions, there will be affordable standing tickets, too, for as little as Dhs50.
Banish your preconceptions and buy a season ticket. This is classical music, but not as you know it. From Dhs50. Mar 21-24, times vary. Dubai Opera, Downtown Dubai, www.dubaiopera.com (04 440 8888).