Promming. The verb. What is it? How do you do it? Allow me, Sophie Fordham, to guide you through the process of one of the greatest musical traditions London has to offer.
Promming is the activity of people who attend (you may have heard of it) The Proms every year at the Royal Albert Hall, a programme of concerts which encircles South Kensington with queues of often eccentric, excited and passionate Prommers who wish to experience world class music for cheap. And I mean really cheap. The kind of cheap that makes £100 Gary Barlow tickets seem (even more) like winning the lottery and spending the entirety of your fortune on watching a giraffe have a stroke.
Going to The Proms is somewhat akin to buying a penny sweet from your local corner shop that, upon swallowing, happens to eradicate every skin problem you have, ever had, ever will have. In a phrase: extraordinarily great value for money. The Proms combines the affordability, accessibility and cultural experience us UoL students crave.
Prommers have been Promming since 1895 and the festival has stuck to its mission statement ever since: ‘to present the widest possible range of music, performed to the highest standards, to large audiences.’ Committed to an informal atmosphere with a popular programme and – most importantly – low ticket prices, the Proms were created precisely so as to attract large audiences of people who may not have prior knowledge or appreciation of orchestral music. That is why you, student of Queen Mary, should seize this opportunity. The Proms were made for everyone and believing that an appoggiatura is a delicious Italian dessert will have no bearing on how much you will enjoy yourself.
Here are five simple steps to Promming for the day:
1. Line up for Day Tickets an hour or so before the concert begins. For special concerts people queue for hours, sometimes all day – so check the programme and RAH Twitter page before you go. It is rare for people to be turned away, so even if the queue is halfway down the road, don’t give up!
2. Choose which area you wish to queue for. Though the Arena is often more packed and popular due to its proximity to the music, the Gallery is relaxed and makes for an impressive viewing.
3. Make sure you’re not in the wrong queue. The queue for arena tickets begins on the side of the Hall with loads of steps, opposite the Royal College of Music. There is a handy sign saying ‘Arena Day Tickets’, do not fear. The queue on the opposite side of the hall is for season ticket holders – the people who will start chanting mid-performance in a call and response fashion between the Arena and the Gallery, do not fear them either; sometimes their love for music transmutes into curt behaviour, but they’re softies on the inside.
4. Hand over your fiver.
5. Enjoy the show.
Don’t have a clue where to start? Try these…
If you fancy a bit of drama this weekend check out Prom 22: War Horse Prom on Sunday 3rd August from 4.30pm.
If you want to see someone in the charts, in an intimate setting, with a twist look no further than Prom 45: Late Night with… Laura Mvula on Tuesday 19 August, 10.15pm.
Experience classical for the first time with familiar pieces to stir the heart – our very own Queen Mary Orchestra recently performed Holst’s famous Mars and Jupiter in their Spring Concert. Queue up for Prom 56: Holst – The Planets on Thursday 28 August, 7.30pm. You will not be disappointed.