Tuesday, July 22, 2008


Folk Day at the Proms, Royal Albert Hall, 20th July

I sometimes forget what great value the Proms are--you get a concert every night for two months at a fiver a go. I think it's just that these days so-called "classical" music is at the bottom of my pecking order of musical "genres" (I hate that word). Pop/rock, world, jazz and folk take precedence so classical doesn't get much of a look-in anymore.

In recent years the Proms have been casting their net a bit more widely genre-wise, and the (free) gig this afternoon is a case in point: a selection of songs firstly presented in their "folk" setting--courtesy of Bella Hardy and veteran Hungarian-Gypsy foursome Muzsikas--then as orchestral appropriations courtesy of Vaughan Williams, Percy Grainger, Bartok...

It all raises some interesting questions (humour me):

  • should composers pass off as their own tunes which have been written and developed over a long period of time by a number of different singers?
  • are their arrangements even based on the same tunes, bearing in mind the conventions of "classical" orchestral music with regard to form and harmonic and instrumental embellishment?
  • do folk musicians see the virtue of songs being revived by classical composers, given that they present them in such a different way?

Oh I don't know...

P.S. There's a selection of clips on youtube from the evening "Proms Folk Day" concert featuring Bella Hardy (again), Martin Simpson and the fantastic Bellowhead.

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