Belfast Telegraph

BBC's Proms in the Park thrills thousands at Titanic Slipway

By Lauren Harte

Thousands of people enjoyed a magical evening of classical and contemporary music at this year's BBC Proms in the Park in Northern Ireland.

After last year's event in Co Fermanagh's Castle Coole estate, BBC Northern Ireland's biggest classical music party of the year returned to Belfast on Saturday night.

Despite heavy rain, a crowd of around 11,000 people turned out at the Titanic Slipway and were treated to a musical outdoor extravaganza featuring the Ulster Orchestra.

Now in its 17th year, the event is Northern Ireland's biggest outside broadcast of the year and brought together an array of international and home-grown music stars.

The evening featured high profile names such as classical guitarist Xuefei Yang, virtuoso mandolin player Avi Avital, percussionist Ithamar Doari, the cast of Titanic Dance, musical star Kim Criswell and headline act, Ultravox frontman Midge Ure.

The audience also joined concert-goers around the UK in a singalong of war songs, including Roses of Picardy and Keep the Home Fires Burning, to mark 100 years since the end of the First World War.

In Belfast, the chosen song was It's a Long Way to Tipperary, which was performed by Karl McGuckin from Dungannon, who works as a barrister when he's not performing on stage.

BBC Northern Ireland's Noel Thompson and Claire McCollum presented the concert which was part of the UK-wide celebrations of the Last Night of the Proms.

The BBC Proms is the world's largest classical music festival, presenting over eight weeks of events and more than 90 concerts in London's Royal Albert Hall.

BBC Northern Ireland's head of entertainment and events, Mike Edgar, explained what makes the Proms in the Park event so special.

"This event started around 1996, but in 2002 the BBC decided to invite the rest of the nations into this fantastic classical music party," he said.

"Fast forward now to 2018 and it has just grown and grown.

"Music is one of the few things that brings everybody together.

"It's like having a house extension on the side of the Royal Albert Hall where basically the nations get invited to the party.

"Hopefully it's also inspirational to lots of young people who might come along and see a performance for the first time and go 'you know what, I could make a career out of that'."

There will be a special highlights programme from the night on BBC One Northern Ireland next Sunday, September 16 at 5.35pm and later on BBC Four at 7pm.

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