In review: First night of the BBC Proms Dubai

BBC’s classical music festival produces display of unparalleled musical mastery

The first night the inaugural BBC Proms Dubai festival exemplified the artistry and showmanship the British Broadcasting Corporation’s Symphonic Orchestra has been renowned over for more than a century.

In the UK, the Proms represents something of a forgotten patriotism, and has been bringing high-brow, classical music to the masses for more than 120 years. The founding principle of the Proms was affordability, and in a city where the sublime can come with a hefty price tag, the BBC Proms Dubai delivers an evening crammed full with virtuoso musical performance from just Dhs50 (if you managed to get one of those tickets before they sold out).

Never more evident is the BBC’s affordability promise than when purchasing a programme. A guide for the show costs Dhs10 more than entry to the show itself.

As for the performance, the first half was stolen by a performance of 32-year old American composer Mohammed Fairouz’s “Pax Universalis”, an orchestral tone-poem ode to peace dedicated to child victims of global conflict. The initially jaunty tone, in places reminiscent of classic western soundtracks, belied the composition’s inherently forlorn inspiration. That being said, appropriate use of minor tones and cadences in certain movements revealed the composer’s intentions.

The post-interval headline performance delivered William Walton’s first symphony in its entirety; a story of love, loss and latterly the rediscovery of love. Four distinct movements of the symphony portrayed the explosive joy of young love, the bitterness of loss, the melancholy of isolation, and a soothing, reassuring fourth movement illustrating the arrival of a new muse, drawing a close to the show.

A meticulous performance of unparalleled musical mastery saw a near hour-long performance delivered with perfection, touch and craft, before a three-minute standing ovation concluded proceedings.

The Proms are ongoing until Friday March 24, where the BBC’s legendary “Last Night of The Proms” will see Dubai celebrate pieces from Debussy, Handel and many others.

Appreciating the classical side of music in Dubai has never been easier, and with remaining tickets starting from Dhs150, rarely more accessible.

The Bottom Line

An eye-opening evening of musical mastery that won’t break the bank.

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