'A fair old smattering of ecstasy has attended the opening two weeks of this year's Proms. The queues for returns and the critics' reactions both showed how extraordinary and unprecedented the opening weekend was.'
He goes on:
'…as regular concert-goers know, it is customary not to applaud between movements in a symphony (just as it is customary to cough in those pauses even if you do not have a cough – a clearing of the throat signals that you know your music). This year that arcane barrier has been broken down. The much sought-after new audience seems to have arrived.'
How I hope he's right. Classical music snobs have tormented the medium for years: looking down their noses at those who don't know the difference between a diminished fourth and a coloratura soprano, braying like Roderick Spode should someone clap between movements, attacking young composers who dare write music not in the style of Elgar.
David Lister then mentions high politics:
'The early success of this year's Proms season has not gone unnoticed within the BBC. One senior executive told me: "People keep saying: 'There's a lot wrong with the BBC, but I love the Proms.'" Right up to the very top of the corporation, there is increasing recognition that in the coming battles with the Government over funding, content and efficiency, the Proms will prove to be a not-so secret weapon…'
It's also no secret that Rupert Murdoch and his, if anything, still more philistine son, James Murdoch, wish to eviscerate the BBC. High quality public broadcasting, state-funded via the licence fee, accountable to an independent regulator, make the Murdoch brood wake up at night in a muck sweat.
Under current UK media rules it would be unlawful for Murdoch's Fox News, with it's right-wing, anti-state, celebrity-obsessed news agenda, to operate in Britain. That's costing Murdoch £millions and he's looking to the Tories, whom his newspapers supported at the recent election, to weaken the BBC.
If the BBC Proms can help torpedo Murdoch they'll deserve a medal. The Queen could pin it on the Royal Albert Hall.