Music In the event, listening to Prom 6 on Radio 3 was a profoundly moving experience as my room filled with twenty to sixty voices (depending upon the work) from the BBC Singers and Tallis Scholars. Although I've heard choral music before, I don't think it's had quite this effect, perhaps because for once I was able to concentrate and let myself be carried along by the voices.

As related by conductor Davitt Moroney during the short break in the programme and in this preview from The Independent, in Striggio's Mass 'Ecco si beato giorno' in 40 and 60 parts he found one of the great lost works of the Renaissance, which in my terms is like tracking down Shakespeare's Love's Labour's Won or the first great (but wiped) Doctor Who historical Marco Polo.

What was staggering about the work is that each of those voices is for much of the time are singing to their own agenda yet still retain a collective thrust. I kept thinking about the large cathedrals, in which the main thrust of the space also includes side chapels in which people can worship in their own way, but still working towards that common cause. So although there is a general wave of sound, within that you can hear a soprano slipping off into a different tune or a tenor attempting to break loose.

I wish my vocabulary was more extensive -- I'm simply not equipped to enunciate the nuances. But it is another occasion in which my preconceptions have been confounded and tonight more than ever I wished I'd been there. Of course your imagination has the best pictures, but the sight of eventually sixty voices, sonically parting company then gathering again when necessary must have been extraordinary.

I wonder how many Mefites could make it. I'm really sorry that I didn't record it -- instead for some bizarre reason related to an old film course my Panasonic is engaged in capturing this Robert Bresson film about a donkey and I can't imagine that'll move me in quite the same way. Perhaps I've simply replicated the experience of the people in the hall, for whom the performance will live on in the memory.


  1. Anonymous9:56 am


    I was lucky enough to be in the Albert Hall at the time. I confess - like others, I suspect - that I went to hear Spem In Allium.

    The debut of 'Ecco si beato giorno' completely blew me away. It's one of the most moving pieces of music I've ever heard.

    Anyway, I saw that you were sorry you hadn't recorded it - I didn't even realise it was being televised.

    If you want to hear it again though the BBC have it for the next few days here:

    And it can be reached from here:


    Drop by my blog and say hello:

  2. My mum and dad were at this Prom, and they told me the wall of sound generated by so many distinct voices was sensational. One Prom you really shouldn't miss is on Saturday 4th August, when Shostakovich's 7th Symphony is being performed. It's one of the most overwhelming and emotional pieces of music you'll ever hear, depicting the German invasion of the USSR during World War Two. I'm going to try and go along in person, but I know it's scheduled to be shown on BBC2.

  3. Anthony,

    Thanks for reminding me! When I say record it, my dvd recorder has freeview built in which carries BBC3 so I can record that stream onto dvd. So it (and every other concert) has been televised (sort of).


    I'll there with you then -- in spirit at least. I've sort of made a promise to myself that I'm going to try and watch or listen to every prom if I can -- which is going to be an adventure. Although I know I'm going to miss at least one of them -- the Blue Peter Prom is happening twice but only the second one is being broadcast. Should I just listen to it twice?