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Conductors: August 2008 Archives

Would You Like A Little Wobble With That?

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Roger Norrington

Vibrato wars whip up a musical storm over last night of the Proms

Voices are raised in anger after a famous conductor decides to give a controversial performance of Elgar's classic crowd-pleaser

By Amelia Hill & David Smith
The Observer

When this year's BBC Proms climax with the traditional chorus of Elgar's 'Land of Hope and Glory', prommers expecting the traditional rousing sing-along could feel distinctly disappointed. For the first time in the Proms' 113-year history, the march – also known as Pomp and Circumstance March No.1 – is likely to be played without vibrato, an obscure and extreme performance style that lends an icy tone to music and divides classical music fans into opposing camps.

Vibrato, a musical effect produced by a regular pulsating change of pitch, is used to add expression and vocal-like qualities to instrumental music. On string instruments, the effect is created by the controlled vibration of the finger holding down the string.

'If the orchestra agree, as I hope and think they will, to my suggestion that we play one of Britain's most patriotic pieces as its composer intended, then the last night of the Proms will sound strikingly different to ever before,' said Sir Roger Norrington, one of Europe's leading conductors and founder of the London Classical Players.

Read more about this at the The Observer website:

   http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2008/aug/03/proms.classicalmusicandopera1

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