Proms 2018

The Proms may have reached their conclusion for 2017, but the memories will last a lifetime. What an extraordinary season of music-making it's been - a glorious mix of pieces that were emotionally rich, intellectually challenging and plenty that just made you want to dance.

So, what have we learned? Many, many things. Here are just seven to tick us over for the 10 tough months until it's Proms time again.

1. It's possible to form an orchestra and wow the Proms audience just two years later

Few stories from the Proms 2017 captured the imagination quite like the story of the Chineke! Orchestra, which was founded by double bassist Chi-chi Nwanoku OBE as recently as 2015. Under conductor Kevin John Edusei, they made their Proms debut on 30 August at a stunning, late-night Prom. The orchestra was joined by rising-star cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason and soprano Jeanine De Bique and performed works by Dvořák, David Popper, George Walker and Handel. The night also included a premiere, The Spark Catchers, by British composer Hannah Kendall.

Read more: The inspirational real-life stories of seven Chineke! musicians

2. You loved Igor Levit's encore at the First Night...

...especially if you're a Twitter user. A tweet that included a clip of the award-winning pianist playing Liszt's transcription of Beethoven's Ode to Joy from his Ninth Symphony was our most successful of the season up to the Last Night, judging by the number of retweets and likes. The entire First Night of the Proms was spectacular, and you can re-live it by watching our highlights clip, below:

3. The sound of a 'singing' wine glass can fill the Royal Albert Hall

At the heart of the Proms is new music, and one of the absolute best premieres we heard this year was the first UK performance of Anders Hillborg's Sirens (hear an excerpt, above). At one point in the 33-minute work, Prommers looked baffled, trying to identify an unusual, high-pitched sound coming from the orchestra. A glance at the back-row percussionists revealed a member of the BBC Symphony Orchestra rubbing a moistened finger along the rim of a wine glass, making it sing - a technique for making music that goes back to the Middle Ages.

Other unusual instruments used at the Proms this year included percussive chains at the Simon Rattle-conducted Prom 46: Schoenberg - Gurrelieder, and, yup, the massive hammer was out for all to see/be deafened by at Prom 72: Vienna Philharmonic - Mahler's Sixth Symphony:

4. Old(ish) pieces are given a new lease of life when played by the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain

Stravinsky's Rite of Spring from 1913 is such an often-performed classic you wonder whether an orchestra in 2017 could possibly bring anything new to it. And then you hear the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain make it sound utterly fresh and dynamic again. We'll let the above clip from Prom 28 do the talking; it's thrilling stuff.

Read more: 30 and under: Meet the young stars of the Proms 2017

5. Prommers are good singers!

At Prom 10, the Aurora Orchestra returned, again performing a classic work from memory. This year, with the help of Radio 3 presenter Tom Service, they explored Beethoven's 'Eroica' Symphony in an event that was part concert, part lecture. During the lecture, Tom and conductor Nicholas Collon helped explain the symphony's "grand and heroic theme" by asking Prommers to sing it. They did a grand job, and a clip of the mass singalong was a hit on our Facebook page.

6. If you bring a date to the Proms, they'll love it

One of the most fascinating parts of the Vikki Stone-presented, season-long Proms Podcast was her "Prom date", in which Vikki invited a pop musician, or a comedian, and even a psychologist to come to a concert, often for the first time. Without exception, they loved the experience (although it suddenly dawned on Richard Osman, above, that he didn't like the sound of violins). So, word to the wise, singletons: bring a date to the Proms next year and you'll deeply impress them.

Sophie Ellis-Bextor was Vikki's most recent Prom date, and you can catch up with all eight episodes on the Proms Podcast page.

7. The director of the Proms goes to every single concert

If you're a friend of David Pickard's, you probably shouldn't invite him to literally anything between July 15 and September 9. He'll say, "I'm very sorry, but I'm busy." Because David, it transpires, goes to every Prom come hell or high water, including the Monday lunchtime chamber concerts at Cadogan Hall, and any outside London.

Tremendous effort, David, but you've still got work to do to compete with Harold Beck, who clocked up 80 years of going to the Proms this year, meaning he saw concerts under Sir Henry Wood at Queen's Hall, as we found out in our article Great feats of human endurance at this year's Proms.

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