BBC Proms in the Park

Glasgow Green

Keith Bruce

three stars

OTHER public gatherings may have been prohibited in Glasgow, but orchestral music fans still marched on Saturday, armed with folding picnic chairs, to rally by the Clyde and unfurl their flags, the majority displaying their continuing support of the European Union.

They are a hardy and tolerant band, for not only the elements were against them here. Information was in short supply, without the usual programme of events either as a printed hand-out or on the screens at the side of the stage. Small wonder many packed to leave at nine o’clock when the Scotland-only section of the broadcast was in the can, assuming the gig was finished, and before the link up with the Albert Hall and other UK parks that was the point of the whole expensive exercise in the first place.

With the PA sound quality on site poor for much of the evening, and the interval video elements introducing the BBC SSO’s new season and its participation in the Ten Pieces project mystifyingly unexplained, this was a shoddy way for the Beeb to treat the people who had ignored the weather to be the animated backdrop for its programming.

If the production was a shambles, those onstage made the effort of attendance worthwhile, even if headliner Barbara Dickson’s own short set was an ill-chosen selection with one false start from the singer herself. Young Trad Musician of the Year Benedict Morris livened things up with his high-velocity fiddle, and Aberdeenshire soprano Eleanor Dennis added her name to the illustrious list of operatic voices from that neck of the woods with her Mozart. Violinist Stephanie Childress may also be as yet unknown to most, but her choice of movements from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons proved meteorologically apt.

With Glasgow Youth Choir sharing the stage with him for the first-half finale and the live link-up, the hero of the hour was tenor Jamie MacDougall, without whom the entire event would have collapsed into chaos. Whatever the BBC is paying him to introduce the event, gee-up the crowd, make sure the timings work, sing as much music as any of the guests, and consistently pass the credit to the orchestra and conductor Stephen Bell, it is quite plainly not enough.