Orchestral versions of Rule, Britannia! and Land Of Hope And Glory will be played at Last Night Of The Proms, the BBC has confirmed.
It has been reported that the songs may be dropped due to problems associated with colonialism and slavery.
The pieces are usually sung but will be performed without words this year, although they should be back in full when the pandemic is over.
The concert is scheduled to take place on September 12 but without an audience.
In a statement Monday night, BBC Proms said it was announcing the concert schedule following recent speculation.
He said there would be new orchestral versions of Land Of Hope And Glory, and Rule, Britannia !, as well as a new arrangement of Jerusalem.
“With greatly reduced musical forces and no live audience, the Proms will host a concert that will feature familiar and patriotic elements such as Jerusalem and the national anthem, and bring new moments capturing the vibe of this unique moment, including You will never walk. Alone, presenting a poignant and inclusive event for 2020, ”the statement said.
This weekend, the Sunday Times reported both Rule, Britannia! and Land Of Hope And Glory could be withdrawn from the program.
The newspaper said conductor Dalia Stasevska believed it was time to “bring change” to the Royal Albert Hall, the year the anti-racism movement gathered pace after the death of George Floyd.
The 35-year-old Finnish conductor, who will be joined by soprano Golda Schultz and the BBC Symphony Orchestra for this year’s classical final, declined to comment directly on the reports.
In its statement, the BBC added that it “very much regrets the unjustified personal attacks on Dalia Stasevska” on social media.
“As always, decisions about the Proms are made by the BBC, in consultation with all the artists involved,” he said.
“The Proms will reinvent the Last Night in this extraordinary year so that it respects the traditions and spirit of the event while adapting to very different circumstances right now. “
All the familiar tunes will be there but in a very unfamiliar setting.
The Last Night of the Proms will always have Jerusalem, the national anthem and new orchestral versions of Rule, Britannia! and Land of Hope and Glory.
However, there will be no live audience in the Royal Albert Hall to sing, and the number of musicians and singers will be reduced and dispersed in the hall due to social distancing.
The music, the BBC says, will have to be adapted to reflect the new circumstances – meaning there will be no singing of Rule, Britannia! and Land of Hope and Glory.
Rumors that the songs were dropped for political reasons over concerns over lyrics extolling Britain’s imperial past have led to heated debate.
The BBC says the arrangement for the orchestra was how the tunes were first performed at the Proms in 1905, and it’s clear that the evening’s two catchy tunes would sound odd and perhaps rather dark with just a handful of singers spread across an empty room. .
It is understood that the songs will return with their lyrics when the coronavirus restrictions end.
Meanwhile, Jerusalem, another song favorite, will still have its lyrics, as will the national anthem.
Downing Street waded into the row on Monday, with a spokesperson saying, “It’s a decision and a case for the organizers of the Proms and the BBC.
“But the Prime Minister has previously set out his position on similar issues and made it clear that if he understands the strong emotions involved in these discussions, we must tackle the substance of the issues, not the symbols. “
- Proms concerts will change based on Covid rules
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden also said he had raised “concerns” with the company over the Sunday Times report.
“Rule Britannia and Land of Hope and Glory are the highlights of Last Night of the Proms,” he tweeted. “Share the concerns of many about their potential elimination and have raised this with the BBC.
“Confident nations looking to the future do not erase their history, they add to it.”
Meanwhile, Conservative MP Michael Manufacturer said the move was “very sad,” adding: “There are a few adorable words for Rule Britannia. ”
Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today show, he called for a “compromise” with one voice performing the melody, rather than the usual singing version.
“Let’s say one voice sings these words with pride,” he said. “There’s nothing wrong with a little tradition, and it’s a beautiful song. “
Why Rule, Britannia! so controversial?
Rule, Britannia! was set to music by Thomas Arne in 1740, and his lyrics were based on a poem by James Thomson.
It contains verses such as: ” Nations, not as blessed as you, must, in turn, fall to tyrants.
“While you flourish big and free / The fear and envy of all.
“Rule, Britannia! Rule the Waves / The British will never be slaves. “
Land Of Hope And Glory makes a similar reference to the “might” of the former British Empire, which some find problematic today.
Chi-chi Nwanoku leads the Chineke! Foundation, which aims to provide opportunities for black, Asian and ethnically diverse classical musicians in the UK and Europe, said: “We find this offensive.
“Sure, I know other people will want to hang on to it, but I know why they want to hang on to it.
“These songs are jingoistic echoes of the empire, and depending on which side of the fence you’re sitting on, you feel cheerful, emboldened, and patriotic and immediately identify with all of the feelings of it. “
“For any conscious black person who knows their history, empire and colonialism, for example, they will find it difficult to enjoy the patriotic jingoism of these songs. ”
It draws particular attention to the themes of black superiority, domination and property.
“And the point is, people continue to benefit from the proceeds of this relationship,” she said. “How are we going to break the institutional system, if we stick to these [songs]? «