A piece in yesterday’s Telegraph:
The BBC has been forced to deny it finds classical music “dull, embarrassing or only for old people” after sending out an advert for the Proms that referenced only house music, sci-fi film scores and breakdancing.
The video, shared on the BBC Proms Twitter account as a job advert, opened with the words: “One thing about the Proms that people don’t know is that it’s not all just about classical music like Mozart and Beethoven.”
It appealed for people without a background in classical music to apply.
The video prompted an immediate backlash from within the classical community. Martin Fitzpatrick, head of music at English National Opera, compared it to the satirical BBC show W1A.
“Come on, BBC Proms, what is this? A trailer for a new series of W1A? Classical music isn’t something to be embarrassed about. There is much about the Proms that is wonderful but you wouldn’t guess it from this advert,” Fitzpatrick tweeted.
Aleksandra Myslek, a classically trained pianist and junior fellow at the Trinity Laban conservatoire, wrote: “Awful. Dear BBC, classical music is wonderful, inspiring, life saving, peace calling, educational, hypnotic, irreplaceable. Stop being embarrassed. Lots of young people share this view (while being well versed in other types of music).”
Oliver Webber, professor at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, said: “Surely it’s possible to embrace variety and diversity without apologising for the core repertoire of the festival?”
The advert is for two six-month placements, one as an event coordinator and another as an assistant publicist.
It features a young BBC employee explaining: “The Proms showcases so many different music genres and styles, from House, Ibiza music, to sci-fi film music, to breakdancing music. So there really is something for everyone and you don’t necessarily have to have a background in classical music to work at the Proms.”
She explains that she began her career at the Proms and progressed to a job working on the BBC Three show RuPaul’s Drag Race UK.
Sarah Minns, the opera singer, wrote on Twitter: “This made me angry. It’s as if classical music is a dirty secret. BBC Proms, surround yourself with people who love the Proms for exactly what they were supposed to be. There are so many people passionate about classical music and not just wanting a step up at the BBC.”
A second BBC employee in the video recalls that the “standout moment” of working on the Proms was dressing as an astronaut and jumping around on stage during a concert by Public Service Broadcasting, the indie rock band.
Alan Davey, controller of Radio 3, defended the advert. Speaking at a conference for the Association of British Orchestras, Davey said: “This advert was about appealing to a wider range of people who might normally think about applying for jobs at the Proms. There are seasonal jobs there and every year we want to put a plea to as wide an audience as possible.
“The advert is not saying classical music is dull, embarrassing or only for old people. What it says is that the BBC Proms is more than you think.
“When we do things like the Ibiza evening, you get an audience who’ve never heard an orchestra before. Then they want to hear an orchestra again.”
The Ibiza Prom took place in 2015 and was hosted by Pete Tong, the BBC DJ, featuring the Heritage Orchestra.
Its inclusion in the season raised eyebrows, prompting Suzy Klein, the Radio 3 presenter, to attack the “self-elected snobs and scaremongers” who “want to ‘protect’ classical music, and high culture at large, from the onslaught of mass entertainment”.
The Ibiza Prom became the most downloaded concert of the season.
You can subscribe to The Telegraph here.
Our last general election manifesto is here.
If everyone who read this gave us £5.00 – or even better, £5.00 or more, monthly – we could change the world. £5.00 monthly would entitle you to Bronze party membership, details here. Benefits include a dedicated and signed book by Mike Buchanan. Click below to make a difference. Thanks.