The BBC need to stop policing classical music concerts

‘I could have done without that bravo at the end.’ 

A BBC 3 presenters’ response to the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra’s return to the proms.

Hyperbole can bend the truth, but not in this instance through the BBC’s coverage of the Proms concerts. An inexplicable performance of Brahms’ 3rd symphony with Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla and the CBSO sparks a, granted extreme, but much rewarded ‘bravo’ following the works final movement. Commentary isn’t needed, but the BBC presenter angrily apologises for the individual’s passionate outburst. 

The implication is that this excited and enthralled post-covid prommer is impolite, uneducated and has ruined a deafening silence that is, although often welcomed, not entirely necessary. Why was I not surprised at this response? The BBC appears to commit to change, diversity, inclusivity within classical music, and yet still believes in ‘correct’ responses to music, eluding to there being a ‘correct’ and suitably educated concert type- as far as the BBC are concerned, classical music really isn’t for everybody.

Outbursts are needed at this point in the game. Musicians are scared for their futures and so much has changed. The proms audience is a fraction of its usual size and yet still presenters feel the need to pacify, the already stifled expression of performers and concertgoers being further suppressed. 

Thing is, I’m not sure I want my audience to be quiet anymore. Thank you for your energy, your applause and your joy. That is the audience I want to play to, and I hope the BBC will end its policing of classical concert conduct because, quite frankly, I’m over it.

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