BBC Proms Has Banner Year With Over 300,000 Attendees
BBC Proms Has Banner Year With Over 300,000 Attendees

Not That Kind of Prom: The Proms, which held its finale last night at London's Royal Albert Hall (above), dates back to 1895. It was originally set-up to allow ordinary people to see live classical music. (Photo: BBC/Chris Christodoulou)

The 117th Last Night Of The Proms finished with a flourish last night at London's Albert Hall, the finale to a record-breaking year.

The BBC Proms is the world's largest music festival, taking place over two months in London at the Royal Albert Hall and nearby Cadogan Hall. The event was set up in 1895 to allow ordinary people to afford classical music. These days tickets start at £5 ($7.00).

The Last Night event (attended by 5,000 people and broadcast live on BBC1) is a flag-waving British tradition in two parts, featuring a first half of new music and "serious" performers and a second half of flag-waving celebration.

Average attendance for the main evening Proms in the Royal Albert Hall this year was 94%, compared with 92% in 2010. Fifty two of 74 concerts sold out, three more than the previous year. More than 300,000 people attended in all and among these were 36,000 first-time ticket holders. This year the event saw 12 world premieres, including nine of the 11 major BBC commissions.

For the last 16 years, the Last Night events have extended to live events in other British cities including Manchester, Swansea and Cardiff. This year concerts also spread to Bangor, County Down and Caerphilly.

At 31, British conductor Edward Gardner was the youngest conductor in nearly 70 years to lead the Last Night festivities, which opened with a world premiere by British composer Sir Peter Maxwell Davies.

Singers Katherine Jenkins, Russell Watson and Josh Groban wowed the audience in Hyde Park and Chinese pianist Lang Lang dashed between the two as the first artist ever to perform at both events on the same night.

Roger Wright, the BBC Proms director, said, "The strong attendance figures are a testament to the adventurous spirit of the Proms audiences, their continuing eagerness to embrace such a wide range of music and the great value for money which the Proms offers thanks to the ongoing commitment of the BBC."