Updated: Jun 27
In its premier year, A Basel Night at the Proms promises an inclusive and spectacular musical celebration, reminding us all of what we can achieve when we work together.
A Basel Night at the Proms
For the first time, the Proms are coming to Basel. The newly formed A Basel Night at the Proms is bringing the longstanding musical tradition of the BBC Proms, harkened as "The world's most democratic music festival," to Basel with a gala performance on November 5, 2022. The Proms, short for promenade began in London in 1885 as a series of outdoor concerts that the general public could attend as they promenaded around the park. This inclusive attitude was carried over when the event was taken over by the BBC and ever since it has been a highly anticipated event that appeals to all music lovers - classical or otherwise.
With A Basel Night at the Proms this tradition now comes to Basel, representing the unique qualities of Basel itself with its multilingual mix of Swiss and international flavours. This is accomplished with the collaboration of Sinfonieorchester TriRhenum, The Gilbert & Sullivan Society of Basel and Swiss Opera Lab, who are working together with immense artistic talents such as Conductor Julian Gibbons, Host and Moderator Richard Wherlock (longtime director of Ballett Basel) and Choral Conductor David Lawrence.
A Large Public Choir
The addition of David Lawrence to this formidable collaboration is quite special, not just because he is a distinguished and versatile conductor, but also for his incredible skill in conducting 'mass choirs'. Lawrence has helped form and conduct mass choirs around the world, often with participants who have no musical training. He even holds the Guinness World Record for conducting the UK's largest choir with 6,846 singers!
With A Basel Night at the Proms, Lawrence's considerable skills will be demonstrated as he conducts a public choir made up of (up to) 120 people! When interviewing organizers, Beverley Worboys, Tiffany Butt and Caterina Ciani about his involvement, their excitement was palpable, siting Lawrence's enthusiasm, joy, warmth and devotion to the choral arts. As Tiffany explains, “In the classical music world it’s easy to get cynical, but he’s pretty much the opposite of cynical.”
How to get involved
For those who are interested, the participation in this choir is open to the general public, whether you have musical training or not. The only requirement is a love of singing, a commitment to attend the Choir Workshops (see details below) and a small fee. Although preliminary rehearsals have already started, there are still spots available (especially for tenors and basses!) and anyone can participate.
Start by visiting the A Basel Night at the Proms website. Here you will find out information on the monthly preliminary rehearsals as well as the intense choral workshops that will be held in September and October. For a small fee of 97 CHF anyone can sign up up until the workshop dates. Once you sign up, choral techniques are also conveyed through their Facebook group where participants have exclusive assess to preparation materials and video and audio files of various techniques.
The workshops are a fantastic way to improve your voice and will be a 'bootcamp' of sorts, training participants about the history and style of choral singing, how to follow a conductor, read music, breathing techniques as well as how to present yourself and sing in a group. As Beverley Worboys describes, “[David Lawrence] is going to get you singing and having a great time…by the end of those four days you’re going to feel like ‘gosh I didn’t know I could do this!’"
A Programme with Something for Everyone
Even if you are not keen on being part of the choir, A Basel Night at the Proms still has a compelling program with something for everyone. Keeping with the tradition of the Proms, the song selection is eclectic and wide reaching, with songs in English, German, and French as well as old favourites that are easily recognizable. Audience participation is encouraged and concert goers will be invited to sing along with favourite tunes such as 'A Spoonful of Sugar' and 'Chim-chim-cheree' from Mary Poppins as well as a 'Tribute to Gilbert & Sullivan', which contains snippets from 13 Gilbert & Sullivan classics.
This event is also a great excuse to experience the newly-refurbished Stadtcasino Basel, one of Switzerland's premier concert venues. Although this venue is impressive, organizers are committed to keeping the event affordable with ticket prices ranging from 45 - 90CHF and 20CHF for students. Tickets go on sale August 16 and are available at ticketcorner.ch, or directly from the ticket office at the Stadtcasino Basel or Bider & Tanner.
The evening culminates in the ever iconic Pomp and Circumstance, which will also include an impressive projection display by digital artist Permi Jhooti. As is tradition in the Proms, audience members are also invited to bring a flag to wave during this song. Beverley Worboys sees this as a symbol of the inclusive atmosphere of the event and invites people to bring any flag they like; from home countries, Swiss cantons or any other groups. This sea of diversity will be seen as a representation of the unique diversity of Basel itself; a city that is both Swiss and international.
Make sure to mark your calendars for this incredible event!
Details and Dates
Saturday, November 5 19:30
On sale beginning August 16
October 18 (provisional)
Workshops (mandatory for participation)
Friday, September 23 (18.45 - 21:15)
Saturday, September 24 (10:30 - 13:00, 14:00 - 16:30)
Saturday, October 29 (10:30 - 13:00, 14:00 - 16:30)
Sunday, October 30 (14:30 - 17:00)
Monday evening, October 31 (19:00 - 22:00)
Thursday evening, November 3 (19:00 - 22:00)