Sunday, 27 July 2014

Proms: Balls

When last Sunday’s Prom is broadcast on television next month, there won’t be any yawning gaps in the audience – even though the Royal Albert Hall event was far from sold out.

Before conductor Valery Gergiev lifted his baton for the performance of Mahler’s Symphony No 6 by the World Orchestra for Peace – a broad international collective of leading musicians in honour of the United Nations – swathes of audience members had to be moved to fill the empty seats that were in full view of the television cameras.

According to our man in the stalls, there were almost 300 empty seats. Those in the upper balcony were encouraged to fill the most glaring gaps.

One “prommer” said: “With a star like Gergiev, top-drawer players and an orchestra with such an inspiring name, it should have been full. But it was anything but.

“The only reason I can think of for this is that people stayed away in protest at Gergiev’s politics.”

Gergiev is an ardent supporter of the Putin government, and counts the president as a close friend.

Last November, gay-rights campaigner Peter Tatchell interrupted an LSO concert at London’s Barbican, telling the audience: “Gergiev defends the new homophobic law that persecutes gay Russians.”

Yeah, that's right, Paul, Proms-goers organised a mass boycott of Gergiev, presumably after Googling to find out where he stands on the whole Putin/gay thing. That so happened...

'Mildred, I've just checked and apparently this Russian conductor chappie is a bit equivocal about the gays and Mr Putin.'

'Well George, that's settled it, we won't go then...'


  1. Private Eye has been running regular reports for the last 6 months about Gergiev's political affiliations and the various problems it's been causing him in the UK classical world so it's not totally implausible. Not a coordinated mass boycott, per se then, but maybe numerous individauls thinking "not for me, this time".

    - matthew davis

  2. Perhaps some people don't go because they think other people are going to stage a demonstration and interrupt the music.