Over the years, I have conducted any number of Last Night of the Proms-style concerts, most recently in Perth with the West Australian Symphony Orchestra. We had three pretty much sold-out shows in the Perth Concert Hall, which was garlanded with Union Jacks. These concerts are very popular, but I’m not sure how long they will continue, given the modern nervousness about the colonial subject matter of some of the material at the end of the performance – which of course is the bit that most audiences turn up for. 

An empty stage at the Royal Albert Hall, with BBC Proms banners hanging above in gold.

The BBC Proms. Photo courtesy amandabhslater/Wikimedia Commons

Particularly on the nose are the words of Rule, Britannia!, which features lines like: “The nations, not so blest as thee, Must, in their turns, to tyrants fall; While thou shalt flourish great and free, The dread and envy of them all.” These lyrics were written by James Thomson in 1740, when the British Empire was in full swing, and set to music by Thomas Arne that same year. Land of Hope and Glory is less offensive,...