in South Wales Royal Albert Hall Schools Proms Press comment start page

Royal Albert Hall

The Hall for the performance

Imagine a great big round theatre, 140 or so years old, with rows of galleries up the walls, seats sloping down to the floor, a big orchestral stage in front of giant organ console, and then hundreds of choirs seats either side of the organ. Now fill that huge theatre to capacity-5,600 in the audience-and add another 500 Welsh children in choirs stalls, and add to them 4 Canadian children - not to mention all the adults from Wales and Canada. That was the Royal Albert Hall in London, England, on Wednesday November 8th, the Last Night of the 2000 Schools Proms. And KidsOp was there, singing excerpts from the Raven King!

It was an amazing experience for everyone. Our performance—with Mervyn Burtch looking tiny at the piano on one side of the great big stage—was a great success, conducted by Keith Ellerington, and with the Raven and Wizard from the Caerphilly Kids Opera Group production last year. Everyone wore masks supplied by the South Wales mums, and was even a small group of dancers for the dance of the dawn. The music sounded so rich with 504 voices singing it, but all of them were needed to make an impact in the vast hall. I don’t think any of us will forget looking out on that great throng of the audience. And the Canadians will never forget the great cheer that went up when the Canadians were announced by the Master of ceremonies!

The large structure to the right is the great organ of the Royal Albert Hall. All the children singing The Raven King were in the choir stalls to either side of the organ.

The four Canadian children in masks made by South Wales parents
But there were also lots of other school and youth groups performing. Some of them, such as the Bromley Youth Orchestra (aged 12-19), were of such a high standard that I don’t think we have heard anything quite like them over here in Canada. The concert started off with a fanfare from the highest gallery opposite the stage, the music seeming to come out of the darkness. The darkness didn’t last long, as we had all been issued with little flashlights (torches) that lit up when you pushed the base, so that the whole of the Albert Hall seemed to be dancing with fireflies. Then, to close the concert, everyone sang Elgar’s Land of Hope and Glory, the traditional way to finish the Last Night of the Proms. 6,000 people singing and all waving flags—we waved our Maple Leafs—is quite a sight and sound!

To see the full program of the last night of the Schools Proms click on the button to the right

back to top of page