Friday, 15 April 2016

What's the difference between an English and Viennese waltz?

Stephen Pollard isn't impressed with the BBC over the Proms. The Times headline, The ‘Strictly Prom’ shows how craven the BBC has become, sums up his point. 
The BBC is proud of its role in sustaining the Proms. Yet just as the corporation’s primetime TV programming has lost almost all connection with Reithian principles of informing, educating and entertaining, so too its Proms have gone the same way. 
Take Strictly Come Dancing. It’s one thing that it dominates BBC One on a Saturday night, where one can try to justify it on the basis of popularity. But on July 21 the Royal Albert Hall will host the “Strictly Prom”. That’s the world’s leading classical music festival scavenging after cheap popularity with sequins and ballroom dancing. 
Or how about trying a prom in a Peckham car park? Maybe you’d like to try the Quincy Jones Prom, celebrating the pop producer. Or there’s the David Bowie Prom eight days later. Clearly Bowie was a huge cultural figure. But he had as much talent for classical music as I do. 
For Stephen Pollard, this is "craven, short-sighted and destructive":
If even the organisers of the Proms don’t have enough confidence in classical music to think it justifies itself, why should anyone else?
The BBC Proms website actually makes the Strictly Prom sound quite interesting though (well, to me anyhow):
Katie Derham dons her dance shoes and ball gown once more, joined by some of your favourite professionals from Strictly Come Dancing, who will whisk us from Vienna to Latin America and back in the company of the BBC Concert Orchestra and English National Ballet Music Director Gavin Sutherland. 
If you’ve ever wanted to know the difference between an English and Viennese waltz, or how classical composers have approached the Charleston and the tango, this is the Prom for you.
That last paragraph suggests those "Reithian principles of informing, educating and entertaining" might be in play after all.

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