April 8, 2009 / 4:01 PM / 10 years ago

Bollywood twist for annual UK "proms" concerts

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain’s “proms,” the annual summer season of classical concerts famous for a patriotic finale attended by thousands, will celebrate Indian music this year with the first “Bollywood Prom.”

Bollywood actors Amitabh Bachchan (L) and his son Abhishek Bachchan perform on stage during the Indian International Academy Awards (IIFA) in Sheffield, northern England June 9, 2007. REUTERS/Darren Staples

Indian music star and talent show host Shaan will be the master of ceremonies for the August 16 event at the Royal Albert Hall, where the main prom concerts are staged, according to the BBC which organizes and supports the proms.

It will follow a day of performances reflecting India’s vocal styles including traditional khyal singing and folk music from Rajasthan, Gujarat and Kerala.

“On August 16 the proms presents proof not only that India’s ancient musical traditions are thriving today, but also that the country has produced a vibrant and equally authentic culture of contemporary vocal music and dance,” the BBC said.

The publicly funded broadcaster, criticized by a government minister last year for failing to reflect Britain’s cultural diversity in its proms programing, said this year’s event running from July 17 to September 12 would be the biggest ever.

One hundred concerts are planned, including 76 at the Royal Albert Hall, showcasing everything from music from the court of Henry VIII to well-known film musicals.

Orchestras from across Britain and from cities including Amsterdam, Budapest, Dresden, Leipzig, Lyons, Vienna and Zurich will perform, as will famous musicians like Chinese pianist Lang Lang and conductors Daniel Barenboim and Valery Gergiev.

There is also a proms debut for the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain, which on its website says that “all genres of music are available for reinterpretation, as long as they are played on the Ukulele.”

On the Last Night of the Proms, when hundreds of concertgoers wave flags to patriotic songs including “Land of Hope and Glory” and “Rule Britannia,” several anniversaries will be marked.

Joseph Haydn, who died 200 years ago, George Frideric Handel, who died 250 years ago and Henry Purcell, who was born 350 years ago, are all honored.

Reporting by Mike Collett-White

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