Last Night of the Proms to finally take place after weeks of controversy

Musicians are preparing for the Last Night of the Proms, after weeks of controversy over the event.

The BBC made a U-turn so that Rule, Britannia! and Land Of Hope And Glory will be sung at the Last Night.

The concert features South-African soprano Golda Schultz with the BBC Symphony Orchestra under its principal guest conductor Dalia Stasevska.

Musicians are performing live at the Royal Albert Hall – but without an audience due to coronavirus restrictions.

The original plan would have seen the pieces, seen by some as controversial because of their perceived ties to imperialism, performed without lyrics.

Ms Stasevska spoke out amid the controversy to say she  played no role in the decision to strip the pieces of lyrics.

The run-up to the Last Night saw musicians, media industry figures and even Prime Minister Boris Johnson weigh in to the debate over the pieces.

Tim Davie
Tim Davie, new director-general of the BBC (Andrew Milligan/PA)

“It will not be a usual Last Night, but it will be a night not just to look forward to, but to remember.”

The BBC Proms later said that “both pieces will now include a select group of BBC singers. This means the words will be sung in the hall, and as we have always made clear, audiences will be free to sing along at home.

“While it can’t be a full choir, and we are unable to have audiences in the hall, we are doing everything possible to make it special and want a Last Night truly to remember.

“We hope everyone will welcome this solution. We think the night itself will be a very special moment for the country – and one that is much needed after a difficult period for everyone.”

The U-turn came after director-general Lord Hall was succeeded in the role by Tim Davie, the former chief executive of commercial arm BBC Studios.

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