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The Welsh Proms are the perfect opportunity to don your finery and enjoy the dignified strains of a rousing string ensemble. Oli Franklin takes a look at this year’s programme.


ummer has finally arrived in Cardiff in its entire cricket- playing, sun-drenched glory, heralding the start of one of Cardiff’s biggest summer events: the Welsh Proms. Taking place from Sun 11-Sat 24 July, this year’s Proms are set to be even more spectacular than normal as the event celebrates its 25th birthday with a veritable smorgasbord of concerts to fit anyone’s tastes.

So if you hear ‘Proms’ and are less than enthused by the thought of dressing up and listening to classical music, it might be time to think again. The fortnight of shows, many of which are free, offer an eclectic range of groups and artists across genres such as folk, jazz and world music alongside performances of classical and choral staples by some world-renowned names, including the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Cardiff’s own Brit Award winners Only Men Aloud.

The fortnight begins on Sun 11 July with the dazzling Carnival Prom – Dragon (take a look at our Three To See). The true celebrations, however, kick off a week later with the Twenty Fifth Birthday Prom (Sat 17 July, 7pm, tickets £5-£26) in St. David’s Hall. Harking back to the music of the first ever season of The Welsh Proms in the summer of 1986, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra will be playing music from that night alongside a number of classics. Sometimes referred to as Britain’s National Orchestra, the Royal Philharmonic are revered worldwide, and from the moment their booming brass and soaring strings fill St David’s Hall, you’ll know why.

From then on the festivities really start to bloom, with more than a concert a day and many of the lunchtime performances completely free. For something a little different, why not spend an afternoon with Ginge & CelloBoi (Mon 19 July, 5pm, £3.50), an exciting young Cardiff duo whose unique style mixes country, gospel and jazz to craft a distinct and irrepressible barnstorming sound. Later that night, the BBC National Orchestra Of Wales promise to have hairs standing on end with the suitably named Epic Prom (Monday 19 July, 7.30pm, tickets £5-£26). For a day of smooth, 1920s style relaxation, I recommend the Liberty Street Jazz Band (Tues 20 July, 1.30pm, free). Or perhaps impress the other half with a slightly unusual date night at the Romantic Prom (Thurs 22 July, 7.30pm, tickets £5-£26), where you can both sit back and discover what all the fuss over Tchaikovsky is about at the talented hands of the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra. Guaranteed to beat another night in with a rom-com any day. The range of talent on show this year is fantastic, and given the sheer wealth of acts on offer you’re sure to find something to surprise and delight the whole family. Alongside the evening concerts there are a host of fun, children-friendly daytime events including the Family Prom (Sat 11 July, 11am, adults £9/ children £6) where children (and adults, if you’re inclined) are encouraged to come dressed as their favourite animals and hear musical renditions of classic children’s stories like Peter And The Wolf.

And, as always, the Prom season is brought to a close with the patriotic Last Night Of The Welsh Proms (Sat 24 July, 7pm, £5-£26), sure to be a spine-tin- gling sea of waving flags and riotous Welsh singing, accompanied by some of the country’s finest musicians. With a world-class lineup and such a huge spectrum of music on show, this year’s

Proms are set to be one of Cardiff’s biggest and brightest events this summer. So even if classical music isn’t your cup of tea, be sure to join in the birthday celebra- tions – you might be pleasantly surprised.


Carnival Prom – Dragon (Sun 11 July, 7:30pm, £5) For one night only, St David’s Hall will be infused with the infectious global spirit of carnival. Masses of steel pan and samba percussionists provide the vibrant rhythm to a chorus of carnival songs from around the world, accompanied by an extravagant array of performers. The dancing ranges from mesmerising Brazilian capoeira to feather-plumed samba, while in centre stage the magnificent Celtic red and Saxon white stilted dragons battle it out under the gaze of Merlin the magician. With a dazzling array of dancing, stilt work and party rhythms, the Carnival Prom promises to transform St David’s Hall into the heart of Rio or New Orleans, and give Cardiff a taste of the excitement and extravagance of world carnival culture.

The Stage And Screen Prom with Only Men Aloud (Wed 21 July, 7:30pm, from £5) A night packed with big names, the Stage And Screen Prom sees the acclaimed Orchestra of Welsh National Opera join forces with Classical Brit- winning megastars and Cardiff natives Only Men Aloud. The group single-handedly making choirs cool again will be singing a range of their pop and show songs, and the OWNA will

be rattling the rafters with some of the greatest stage and film songs of all time. Expect soaring, full orchestra renditions of classic movie themes including Star Wars, Indiana Jones and The Magnificent Seven. For the most glamorous of this year’s Proms, don your tuxedos and step out in your finest evening gowns to enjoy a high-class evening, preferably with a glass of champagne. Don’t worry about feeling out of place in your finery – not only are the audience encouraged to dress formally, the Orchestra will be playing the original theme from James Bond. As if you needed any other encouragement to break out the bow tie.

Last Night Of The Welsh Proms, Cardiff (Sat 24 July, 7pm, from £5) As anyone who has ever been to the Proms will tell you, if you are only going to one show, make it the last night. The night is sure to be an unforgettable end to the season and the final candle in the Welsh Proms’ 25th birthday celebrations.

The music will be provided by the impressive BBC Concert Orchestra, joined by one of Britain’s most acclaimed young trumpeters Alison Balsam and conducted by Owain Hughes (he’s something of a Welsh legend in classical music circles). Expect flags and Welsh anthems aplenty in a show of national pride that gives the Millennium Stadium during the Six Nations a run for its money.

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