BBC demands to see conductors speech ahead of Last Night of the

first_imgThe BBC has demanded to see a draft of conductors’ Last Night of the Proms speeches, it has been revealed, amid concerns the celebration of classical music is being taken over by politics.The corporation, which broadcasts the Proms on television and radio every summer, confirmed it requests a copy of the traditional speech made on every Last Night, ahead of the evening.Sakari Oramo, this year’s star conductor, disclosed that he has been asked to show his draft, pointing out that no-one could stop him if he chose to say something entirely different.This Proms season has already seen high-profile conductors use their platform to speak about Brexit, with Daniel Barenboim condemning what he called a “wave of nationalism” as “very dangerous”. Despite that pledge, recent years have seen its stage and audiences regularly dominated by political themes, from the Scottish referendum to Brexit.This year’s political theme had an early start, with pianist Igor Levit performing an improvised version of the EU anthem, Beethoven’s Ode to Joy, in its first week.A day later, in a speech apparently about music education, Barenboim said he spoke not out of political concern but “human”. “If you look at the difficulties that the European continent is going through now you can see why that is: because of the lack of a common education,” he said.Critic Norman Lebrecht said then: “The Proms are, and must be, politically neutral… the Proms podium is not a place for sermons, however brief or apposite. In an interview with the Times this week, Oramo said he did not plan to follow Barenboim’s broadside with any pointed words for his 2017 outing.”It’s your business in the UK whether you want to be there or not [in the EU],” he said.“I think it [Brexit] is a bad idea and very bad for both parties, but I don’t feel I’m qualified to comment on it. If I were British I would have a different approach. But I’m that bit of an outsider.”Disclosing the BBC would see a draft of the speech, he joked : “But of course, if I start to speak something completely different, I don’t think anyone can stop me.”I could ‘go Trump’, maybe!” Previous years of Proms have seen Marin Alsop make a point about equality and women’s position in classical music during her Last Night, and Nigel Kennedy make a statement about Israel.Last year, before he conducted the Last Night, Oramo told the Telegraph he had a rule against bringing politics into his Proms speeches.“It’s not appropriate,” he said then. “You can comment on general things like the importance of music in culture, but not on specific things.”In the end, he spoke only of music being a unifying force and eschewed the Union flag waistcoat he wore in 2014 for a simple black and white outfit. Last year’s Proms saw battle between the Union and EU flags Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. Sakari Oramo, who will be conducting the Last Night of the Proms in 2014  Last year's Proms saw battle between the Union and EU flagscenter_img Daniel Barenboim conducts the Staatskapelle Berlin at the 2017 BBC Proms The Last Night of the Proms Sakari Oramo, who will be conducting the Last Night of the Proms in 2014  The Last Night of the Proms Daniel Barenboim conducts the Staatskapelle Berlin at the 2017 BBC Proms A spokesman for the BBC said: “This [asking to see the draft]  is not a new thing – the conductor’s speech forms a key part of the Last Night programme and it’s standard for conductors to collaborate with the production team on all elements of the concert.“The Last Night speech is a much loved tradition and as well as thanking the Prommers, musicians and announcing the next season, it is a moment for the conductor to speak personally about their passion for the power of music.”A source added they were not aware of any occasion that a conductor had been asked to change his or her speech ahead of broadcast.The rule applies only to the Last Night, with any other speeches throughout the Proms season considered impromptu and at the prerogative of the conductor.The corporation has long said the Proms are intended to be a “music festival and not a political platform”.last_img read more