The BBC has announced that both Friday and Saturday’s Proms have been cancelled. Saturday would have been the Last Night, the traditional celebration that concludes the eight-week classical music festival that takes place predominantly in the Royal Albert Hall.
Although the Last Night has been modified in response to public events (the programme was changed in 1997 after the death of Diana Princess of Wales and in 2001 after the 9/11 attacks) this is the first time since the second world war that the final concert has not taken place at all.
Thursday night’s concert – the first of two due to feature the Philadelphia Orchestra – was also called off only half an hour before the event. An announcement was made at 7pm, and with much of the audience already arriving at the venue, the orchestra instead played the National Anthem and Elgar’s Nimrod. The Royal Box remained empty and the curtain behind the seats was closed as a mark of respect.
Later that evening the BBC announced that the season’s two remaining Proms would also be cancelled “as a mark of respect”. Saturday’s Prom was to have featured soprano Lise Davidsen and cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason with Dalia Stasevska conducting the BBC Symphony Orchestra.
Many people on social media questioned the decision and saw it as a missed opportunity to use the Last Night as a musical tribute to the Queen.
The event was due to be broadcast live on BBC Two and its second half on BBC One as well as on BBC Radio 3 and across the world.