United Kingdom

Simon Rattle avoided conducting at Last Night of the Proms over 'jingoistic' elements of concert

The head of the London Symphony Orchestra has said he avoids conducting at Last Night of the Proms because of unease at the 'jingoistic elements'.

Sir Simon Rattle, 66, said he has been 'torn' over the concert – which traditionally features Rule, Britannia – since the 1982 Falklands conflict. 

While he thinks the Proms is an 'extraordinary' way of bringing people together, he has steered clear of it in the past.

Sir Simon Rattle, 66, said he has been 'torn' over the concert – which traditionally features Rule, Britannia – since the 1982 Falklands conflict

There was outcry last year over news that instrumental versions of Rule, Britannia and Land of Hope and Glory would be played. The BBC overturned the decision.

Asked about the row, Sir Simon, who applied for German citizenship after Brexit, told Radio Times: 'I thought it was sad it made such a noise. I never conducted the Last Night, always avoided it a bit... uneasy about some of the jingoistic elements.'

Sir Simon will join Munich's Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra in 2023.

The conductor said that many classical musicians were being forced to turn to different careers due to the uncertainly around travelling back and forth to Europe.

While Sir Simon thinks the Proms (pictured) is an 'extraordinary' way of bringing people together, he has steered clear of it in the past

'It's very clear that a lot of classical musicians have already left the profession, and are retraining for other professions, or are already in them,' he said.

'Earlier in the year, we decided to do a huge concert with our string players and as many freelancers as we could get.

'In each section, many of the first-choice people said, 'Look, I'm sorry, I'm not doing this anymore. I have a family. I had to take another profession. Six months ago, I'd have welcomed it.'

'We are not going to realise about this for a long time, and then it's going to be too late. A lot of musicians are looking into the abyss. For freelancers, it will be a historic disaster, whatever we do.'

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