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Preparing for the Proms

[A night at the Proms]
In a playful tribute to English music and culture, the Queen’s School of Music is taking on popular British tunes as part of a fundraising concert at the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts. (University Communications)

Anglophiles, it’s time to warm up your vocal chords and unfurl your Union Jacks: the Queen’s School of Music is holding its first ‘proms’ concert at the Isabel and you’re invited.

A playful musical tribute to English music and culture, A Night at the Proms...Then Off to the Music Hall, will see students, faculty and alumni from the Queen’s School of Music taking on popular British tunes as part of a fundraising concert at the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts.

The evening will also feature guest performer Mark Dubois, one of the country’s most renowned lyric tenors.

The ‘Proms’ are a series of concerts held every summer at Royal Albert Hall in London, England. The musical series traditionally concludes with a popular concert called “The Last Night at the Proms”, which is built around showcasing patriotic British music. Audience members are famous for using the concerts as an opportunity to display their national pride, carrying flags and wearing patriotic clothing, and for lending their voices to the evening. 

That’s the spirit the concert’s organizers hope to capture at the Isabel.

“We’ll be doing ‘Rule Britannia’, ‘Fantasia on British Sea-Songs’, and Elgar’s ‘Pomp and Circumstance’ which are all part of the traditional British Proms concerts,” says Musical Director Gordon Craig about the concert, which will feature the Queen’s Symphony Orchestra and the 66-voice Queen’s Choral Ensemble, as well as student and faculty soloists. “It’s all great music.”

Producer Bruce Kelly stresses that audience engagement will be an important component the evening.

“The more audience participation we can get in the songs, the better,” he laughs, explaining that this is the first time the School of Music has tried hosting a ‘Proms’ concert. “It will definitely be fun. Hopefully they’ll be as crazy as they are at Royal Albert Hall!”

Mr. Kelly, who will be emceeing the event along with Mr. Craig, says audience members will be able to buy Union Jack flags at the concert for a dollar apiece, and that their programs will include the necessary song lyrics.

The pair hope the concert will be an opportunity to showcase some of the School’s most promising students, along with faculty members – including Michel Szczesniak and Dina Namer, who will be performing a four-hand piano piece.

“And of course, it’s a gala, which means that the orchestra will be dressed in their finery,” Mr. Craig adds.

But they are quick to stress that the concert is not exclusive to Anglophiles.

“In England, everyone comes out to the Proms,” Mr. Kelly explains. “All ethnicities and backgrounds. It’s just a giggle – a fun thing to do.”

“It’s really not so much a concert as it is an event,” adds Mr. Craig. “A musical event.”

A Night at the Proms…Then Off to the Music Hall will be held at the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts on Friday, Feb. 27, at 7:30pm. Tickets are $25.

For more information, visit the website of the Queen’s School of Music.