The charitable side of... The Proms

Nathalie Thomas

It's not just about the great and good of classical music - the Proms also resonate to the sound of coin in bucket.

It might seem like a whole load of Pomp and Circumstance to some, but there's more to the Proms than classical music and interval ice cream.

On the famous Last Night of the Proms, the Royal Albert Hall becomes the Land of Hope and Glory as the annual event reveals its charitable side. As is so often the case, however, it's not the big corporation - in this case the BBC - that demonstrates its generosity. The Promenaders' Musical Charities, a group born out of faithful members of the Proms audience, collects the money raised throughout the eight-week event.

The PMC, as it is more affectionately known, has existed as an official body for ten years. But charitable Proms followers have been collecting money for decades, with proceeds going towards the Musicians Benevolent Fund, the Malcolm Sargent Cancer Fund for Children and a third charity, voted for by the PMC's 12 trustees.

This year Jessie's Fund, a charity that seeks to assist seriously ill and disabled children through music therapy, is the third cause to benefit from the Proms' choruses of Jerusalem.

Beethoven inside the Royal Albert Hall precedes buckets outside. The PMC's simple technique has reaped success year after year, with a record £55,000 collected in 2004.

Collections are restricted to the end of Proms performances, although the musical theme remains. The PMC makes a trademark chant at the outset of the interval to indicate that buckets will rule the hall after Britannia has finished ruling the waves.

In line with a whole host of traditions on the Last Night, the conductor, this year Paul Daniel, calls out the grand total raised to the applause of an audience full of Auld Lang Syne nostalgia.

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