Rebecca Miller, Conductor Rebecca Miller, Conductor Rebecca Miller, Conductor Rebecca Miller, Conductor Rebecca Miller, Conductor Rebecca Miller, Conductor Rebecca Miller, Conductor Rebecca Miller, Conductor Rebecca Miller, Conductor
Rebecca Miller, Conductor
BBC Sport Prom, review

When a piece of music makes its Proms debut, the moment is flagged in the programme notes. Rarely have such a ragtag gang of old timers taken their first bow as in the Sports Prom, from J Strauss’s Sport Polka to F Mercury's “We Are the Champions”.
This was the BBC Proms’ latest initiative to lure licence-fee payers whose fingers have never twiddled the dial to Radio 3. Given the rich associations of sports broadcasting and catchy tunes, it’s odd it didn’t happen years ago.
The first debut went to John Williams’s “Summon the Heroes”, a brassy fanfare written for the Atlanta Olympics of 1996. Spielberg’s composer summoned his inner Janá?ek with a piercing solo played here by the BBC Concert Orchestra’s stellar bugler Cathy Moore.
The programme interleaved sporting earworms with raids on the classical larder. Thus Booker T Jones’s Soul Limbo, with the woodwinds not quite loud enough to carry the Test cricket theme tune, shared the bill with Shostakovich’s Polka, a rib-tickling riot of wrong notes from his football ballet The Golden Age.
Some numbers held their end up better than others. Tennis Elbow, Keith Mansfield’s Wimbledon theme, outstayed its welcome like a five-minute baseline rally, whereas showjumping could rely on performance-enhancing Mozart. His Musical Joke, long used for the BBC’s Horse of the Year Show, here incorporated electric guitar, and for once we got to hear the climactic joke itself: three fat chords going ker-splat.

Sport bombastically filches from classical archives to ratchet up its narratives. Cue nods of recognition from boys of all ages for Prokofiev’s bone-shattering “Dance of the Knights” and Orff’s howling “O Fortuna” from Carmina Burana. And no Sports Prom would be complete without a sing-along “You’ll Never Walk Alone”, sung by the Crouch End Festival Chorus and a diffident audience.

As a recruiting tool, this young person’s guide to the orchestra was itself a solid Proms debut. Conducted by a swaggering Rebecca Miller, the BBCCO supplied plenty of rousing fffs and some lovely ppps in Ravel’s Une barque sur l’océan and Waldteufel’s waltz The Skaters. There were rather too many zzzs in interviews by compere Gabby Logan with random retired sports persons. Catnip to 5Live listeners, goodness knows what Radio 3’s demographic would have made of Phil Tufnell on Alastair Cook’s woes or footballer Fabrice Muamba on his brush with death. They were at least spared the sight, to an encore of the Ski Sunday tune lifted from Bach, of a Proms outing for the Mexican wave.

Jasper Rees, The Telegraph
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