This week I went to the relaxed BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall in London. Having not heard of this before, I wasn’t sure what to expect. What an amazing experience!
This is simply a 1 hour and 15 min concert by the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra. But it felt as if there was much more to this….. something much more meaningful. 2019 Relaxed Prom – Prom 24 included excerpts from Swan Lake, with storytelling by Carrie and David Grant (TV presenters), followed by Rachmaninov’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini with a pianist as an accompaniment.
The Prom 24 is predominantly for families with small children and children and grown-ups living with a disability. Volunteers from charities for Autism, Alzheimer’s, Dementia and BSL interpreters, as well as many others, were there to provide access to this event. I went with my mum, and we just loved it.
The Orchestra were all dressed in different colours according to the type of instrument they were playing. The Brass Section was in green, percussion in pink, wind instruments in red, and the violins and violas in blue. A great way for the audience to learn about an orchestra.
The lights were not dimmed as some people find discomfort with dimmed lights; people were sitting on the floor. I think I saw some picnics, enjoying the music. If anyone wanted to express himself or herself, they could do so. Children were dancing and hanging off the stage; one boy with autism expressed his enjoyment avidly. As the music got louder and faster, he rocked and as the music slowed, so did his movements.
Experiences of the Audience
In the seat next to me, a lovely young girl just stood up and swayed as the music played; she had the biggest smile! There was a BSL interpreter on the stage to ensure that the deaf people in the audience could access the Presenters and the Storytelling.
I have never seen music take control of people in such a way. I have been to music festivals and concerts, but seeing people at this event so happy and full of enjoyment was really astounding.
A ‘relaxed’ environment
In addition to the concert, the Elgar Room was another experience. This allowed anyone to try out instruments. It was mostly children, and they were ecstatic at having the opportunity to try out all the instruments on offer. It was as if all their Christmases had come at once.
There were also “chill out” rooms for anyone who needed to escape. Mum and I went into one that was opposite where we were sitting. A child came in with his mum to “wrestle”, which was lovely. This specific room was the Prince of Wales room – apparently normally closed to the public. What a lovely room. The walls are adorned with beautiful art and the most wondrous view of the Albert Memorial.
So that was my day at the Relaxed Proms. What a beautiful day. My most memorable moment? Seeing so many people really enjoying the music and the experience. Everyone was smiling.