Last Night of the Proms 2019: Our guide to the festival finale
Philip Mak - August 22, 2019

Last Night of the Proms 2019: Our guide to the festival finale

Harmonise with the programme, performers and more at Royal Albert Hall
Last Night of the Proms 2019

Prom 75: Last Night of the Proms is on 14 September, bringing to an end this summer’s classical music concert series.

The 2019 finale will see American mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton join conductor Sakari Oramo and the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Chorus on-stage at Royal Albert Hall in London. Already got your Union Jacks, dinner jackets and all things British ready?

After a summer filled with more thumping, sweaty EDM music festivals than ever, the BBC Proms are a welcome tradition that bucks the trend. The timeless classical concert series is celebrating its 125th season, though it is modernising to attract younger fans (or “Prommers”) by inviting more female conductors, integrating climate change-themed concerts and other initiatives.

The 2019 Last Night Night of the Proms main concert takes place at Royal Albert Hall in London, though there are local and outdoor events set up around the UK. With a lighter, jovial atmosphere, the programme traditionally features a combination of popular classics followed by more patriotic numbers. 

These are as British “Coronation Street” or complaining about the weather, and many Prommers show up in fancy dress. Other traditions include adorning the bust of Sir Henry Wood in a laurel chaplet, wiping an invisible drop of sweat off his brow and the conductor making a speech thanking the musicians and audiences, discussing the season’s themes and collected donations, and announcing the date of the next edition’s First Night. 

This tradition dates back to 1941, when the Proms’ founder Sir Henry Wood gave the first such speech at the close of that season. Another more visually recognisable custom is the waving of Union Jacks by Prommers, particularly during “Rule, Britannia!”.

Whether or not the Brexit debate is music to your ears, it has certainly permeated every aspect of our society — including the Proms. ‘Remain’ organisation the EU Flags Proms Team will be handing 50,000 European flags ahead of the Last Night of the Proms. This is the third year they have done this, and claim that Brexit will harm the UK’s music industry.  

No matter which flag you wave, Last Night of the Proms 2019 tickets always sell quickly — particularly for seats. Click the link below to get yours or keep reading for our guide on everything you need to know before you go. 

Be there: Last Night of the Proms 2019

Fast facts:

  • Lineup highlights: Jamie Barton, Sakari Oramo, Daniel Kidane…
  • Location: Royal Albert Hall, London
  • Date: 14 September, 2019 
  • No. of attendees: 5,544 in Royal Albert Hall (including standing) 

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What happened at the Proms 2019?

The latest BBC Proms included over 150 events and more than 80 concerts, including 75 Proms (short for “promenade concerts”) of orchestral, choral and chamber music. These took place Royal Albert Hall and Cadogan Hall in London as well as Proms in the Park series across the UK. The idea behind the concerts has always been to make classical music as accessible as possible.

This year’s edition was no exception and continued the tradition of “Promming” (translation: standing in the audience), which allowed up to 1,400 fans to enjoy classical music for just £6. Among the performer highlights were Karina Canellakis (the first-ever female conductor to kick off the First Night of the Proms), Jules Buckley and the Metropole Orkest’s tribute to jazz singer and activist Nina Simone, as well as an avant-garde show by Radiohead lead guitarist Jonny Greenwood.

What is the Last Night of the Proms 2019 programme?

Following the popular classics that launch the Last Night of the Proms, traditionally Edward Elgar's "Pomp & Circumstance March No. 1" and Henry Wood's "Fantasia on British Sea Songs" are played, followed by Thomas Arne's "Rule, Britannia!”. 

The show finishes with Hubert Parry's "Jerusalem" and the British national anthem. Prommers have also made it a tradition to sing "Auld Lang Syne" following the end of the concert, though this was not officially included in the programme until 2015.

2019 Last Night of the Proms programme

  • Daniel Kidane — Woke (9 mins)
  • Manuel de Falla — The Three-Cornered Hat – Suite No. 2 (13 mins)
  • Edward Elgar — Sospiri, Henry Wood Novelties: world premiere, 1914
  • Laura Mvula — Sing to the Moon (4 mins)
  • Georges Bizet — Carmen, 'L'amour est un oiseau rebelle' (Habanera) (2 mins)
  • Camille Saint‐Saëns — Samson and Delilah, 'Mon coeur s'ouvre à ta voix’ (7 mins)
  • Giuseppe Verdi — Don Carlos, 'O don fatale’ (5 mins); Aida, Triumphal March (5 mins)
  • Jacques Offenbach — Orpheus in the Underworld – overture (9 mins)
  • Percy Grainger — Marching Song of Democracy (7 mins)

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  • Elizabeth Maconchy — Proud Thames (6 mins)
  • Harold Arlen — The Wizard of Oz – 'Over the Rainbow’ (5 mins)
  • Henry Wood — Fantasia on British Sea-Songs (17 mins)
  • Thomas Arne — Rule, Britannia! (arr. Sargent) (4 mins)
  • Edward Elgar — Pomp and Circumstance March No 1 in D major, 'Land of Hope and Glory’ (8 mins)
  • Hubert Parry — Jerusalem (orch. Elgar) (2 mins)
  • Unknown — The National Anthem (arr. Britten) (3 mins)
  • Auld Lang Syne

Who’s performing at the Last Night of the Proms 2019?

This year’s performers are led by American mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton, who will be joined by conductor Sakari Oramo and the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Chorus.

Last Night of the Proms performers:

  • Jamie Barton — mezzo-soprano 
  • BBC Singers 
  • BBC Symphony Chorus 
  • BBC Symphony Orchestra 
  • Sakari Oramo — conductor

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