A Last Night First

by Elena See, Minnesota Public Radio,
Luke Taylor, Minnesota Public Radio
September 8, 2013

ST. PAUL, Minn. — You might think Marin Alsop would be accustomed to firsts. After all, in 2007, the violinist and conductor became the first female music director of a major American orchestra when she assumed the role with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.

"These 'firsts' are always surprising to me," Alsop recently told BBC Radio Scotland's Jamie McDougall, "that we can be in 2013 and still have 'firsts' for women."

That said, Alsop broke new ground once more when, on Saturday, Sept. 7, 2013, she became the first woman to conduct at the Last Night of the Proms.

The night marked a few personal firsts for Alsop as well; it was the first time she got to work with mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato and with violinist Nigel Kennedy. And although Alsop has performed at the Proms many times, until this week, she'd only ever enjoyed the Last Night of the Proms on television.

Last Night of the Proms, a signature classical-music event and the culmination of the 58-day BBC Proms music festival, is known for its joyously rambunctious and enthusiastic audience. It's typical for the audience to wave flags, to volley beach-balls and of course, to sing along with the vocal pieces. "It's just like hosting a huge party," Alsop told McDougall. "As long as people are enjoying the music and having fun, I'm happy."

Listen to Last Night of the Proms on Classical Minnesota Public Radio on Sunday, Sept. 8, at 3 p.m. Twitter users are encouraged to use the hashtag #LNOP.

Last Night of the Proms program

Anna Clyne
BBC Commission, World Premiere

The Mastersingers of Nuremberg — overture

Chichester Psalms

Vaughan Williams
The Lark Ascending

The Building of the House

Chérubin - 'Je suis gris! je suis ivre!'

Xerxes - 'Frondi tenere e belle ... Ombra mai fù'

La donna del lago - 'Tanti affetti in tal momento!'


Candide - overture
Candide - 'Make our Garden Grow'

Nabucco - 'Va, pensiero' (Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves)

Over the Rainbow


Londonderry Air (Danny Boy)

Carousel - 'You'll never walk alone'

Sea Reivers

HMS Trinidad March
UK Premiere

Rule, Britannia!

Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1 in D major ('Land of Hope and Glory')

orch. Elgar, Jerusalem

The National Anthem (arr. Britten)

Joyce DiDonato mezzo-soprano
Iestyn Davies counter-tenor
Nigel Kennedy violin
BBC Symphony Chorus
BBC Symphony Orchestra
Marin Alsop conductor

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