Sunday, July 29, 2012

Promming with Wallace & Gromit

No, it's not a high-school formal.  The BBC Proms is a popular classical music concert series at the Royal Albert Hall that runs from July through September every year.   "Proms" is short for "promenade," because these were originally outdoor concerts where the audience could stroll around while listening to the music.  Today you can still "prom" by queueing up on the day of the concert to buy £5 standing-room tickets.

When the tickets went on sale months ago, I tried to get reserved seats for today's afternoon concert, but it was so popular that they sold out in 10 minutes.  Why?  It was a new Wallace & Gromit animated short, accompanied by a live orchestra.  We were planning on "promming" so we could still go to the concert, but at the last minute I discovered they had a few "obstructed view" seats available, so we bought those online so we wouldn't waste precious Olympics-viewing time standing in line in the rain.
The Royal Albert Hall
It turned out to be a good call.  Our view was not really obstructed at all.  In fact, we had a great view of the Royal Orchestra, and we were sitting directly in front of a small video screen.
"Obstructed" view from our seats
The concert was fantastic!  The first half was consisted of musical interludes interspersed with special animation created just for the Proms concert.  A few pieces accompanied montages of scenes from Wallace & Gromit's adventures.  The second half was the new animated short A Matter of Loaf and Death with a live soundtrack provided by the Royal Orchestra.  The conductor stood on a special stand invented by Wallace that was equipped with a cup of tea, a telephone, a plate of crackers, and a pneumatic tube -- through which Wallace and Gromit delivered sheet music from backstage. 
Wallace & Gromit's Musical Marvels
As he was taking his bows at the end, the conductor thanked the composers of the Wallace & Gromit theme music and the soundtrack, who were seated in the audience.  Then he thanked Nick Park, the animator and creator of Wallace & Gromit, and it turned out that he was in the audience, too!
Nick Park, in the dark grey jacket, front and center
What a great event!  We all thoroughly enjoyed it.  Definitely worth taking a break from the Olympics to spend a little quality time with Wallace & Gromit.

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