Guest Blog: Rhona Smith

Drake Music Scotland Digital Orchestra musician Rhona Smith tells us about her magical experience at this year’s BBC Proms in London’s Albert Hall.

You may have been wondering what Drake musicians get up to over the summer holidays when Drake is not on. Well, here is my holiday story. I was lucky enough to go to the BBC Proms in London on 3 separate occasions, but all of them had very contrasting styles. Everything from ballet music to Beethoven’s 5th Symphony and even the baroque style of playing where the violins section of the orchestra stood up for the whole performance.

The highlight for me was the ballet music from Mozart’s Idomeneo which starts in a similar style to the Nutcracker Suite. It progresses to a slow waltz and concluded with drums and other percussion instruments giving a rousing finale to the piece. This was then contrasted with Ravel Piano Concerto, which was really well executed by the pianist Jean-Efflam Bavouzet who played it with flamboyance. In the second half of the same concert there was a surprisingly short piece called ‘Un Oiseau des arbres de vie’ meaning a bird from the tree of life. This piece, although short, gave the programme an interesting change of pace. The birds, played by tin whistle, were very life-like with their sound resonating through the Albert Hall.

The other concerts had memorable moments in them as well. Especially the Vaughan Williams ‘Violin concerto in D minor’ which was coordinated and executed with precision and professionalism by the solo violinist and the orchestra. The violinist, Chloe Hanslip, had an incredible stage presence and performed the concerto with ease whilst communicating very effectively with both the audience and the orchestra.

My Proms experience ended with some familiar Beethoven 5th Symphony which I recognised from the Disney film Fantasia, but this rendition was played with a new interpretation for me but it was still as magical as I remember. That was followed by the Berlioz Symphonie fantastique, this has a recurring theme but it was picked up by various different instruments. Another unique feature was that the violin section stood up for the entire piece and the four harps were brought into the centre of the stage to lead the third movement.

Overall, I found going to the Proms an inspiring and unique experience, one which will always be remembered. I hope this has given you an insight into the Proms and perhaps even inspired you to go yourself one day.