Putting on the Proms: Edward Blakeman

Edward Blakeman Edward Blakeman is the new acting director of the Proms following Roger Wright's departure

Edward Blakeman, editor and acting director of this year's Proms, talks about filling some big shoes in the final part of our series about staging the music festival.

How does it feel to be taking over the reins from departing Roger Wright at this year's Proms?

It's very exciting. Roger and I worked closely together on the planning of this year's Proms and it will be great to see everything actually happen on stage at the Royal Albert Hall, Cadogan Hall and the Royal College of Music.

The Proms has widened out to include music that isn't strictly classical. Do you think this is a good thing?

The emphasis, of course, is on classical music, but it's very stimulating to explore all sorts of other music - particularly in the Late Night Proms.

So this year, as well as Pet Shop Boys, we have Laura Mvula [Prom 45], Paloma Faith [Prom 65], Rufus Wainwright [Prom 74], Clare Teal and two big jazz bands [Prom 30], and a fully staged musical, Kiss Me, Kate with The John Wilson Orchestra [Prom 21]. It makes it feel as if the Proms really is for everyone.

Singer-songwriter Rufus Wainwright Singer-songwriter Rufus Wainwright will be performing 'baroque pop' for his Late Night Prom
Any surprises in store?

Well, we do have some new ideas in the pipeline for coming seasons, but those are secret for the moment. We do like to surprise you...

You are also a flute player. Would you rather be watching a concert or participating in it?

I love doing both. Playing music is a very special experience - unfortunately I have very little time to do it any more - but listening to a great performance is also thrilling and enriching. And there's nothing in the world quite like being part of a Proms audience at the Royal Albert Hall.

Have you ever been a Prommer?
Gallery Prommers at the Royal Albert Hall Gallery Prommers enjoy the show in 2009

I really admire the dedication - and stamina! - of the Prommers, who stand in the arena night after night throughout the season. Their reward, as I've discovered on the few times when I've done it, is that they really are at the centre of the music, and the sound is just fabulous. I am, however, a regular Prommer at rehearsals. It's my favourite place to be to check what's happening on stage.

What's been memorable?

There have been so many moments over the years that I've been involved in the Proms. The performance of Wagner's Ring Cycle last year, conducted by Daniel Barenboim, was quite literally overwhelming and part of its power was the unique Proms experience of sharing it with 6,000 other people in the Royal Albert Hall.

And I always have a 'tingle factor' moment every year as I listen to the first chord at the First Night of the Proms. It means that after all the months of preparation, we've finally got there - and now we have eight weeks to enjoy.

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