Prom 30 – Friday Night with Frank Sinatra

Ol’ Blue Eyes

The Proms have an age old history of bringing music to all people, and this is true today still. While I had always put off going because I didn’t think anyone would enjoy coming along to listen to classical music, not only have I learned that many of my friends would have loved the chance to, but the Proms also offer far more than the expected Bach, Mozart or Handel.


Frank Sinatra night at the proms with Seth Macfarlane, awesome evening!

A photo posted by Jeremy Rose (@mrjeremyrose) on

Frank Sinatra at the Proms marks the third occasion for the John Wilson Orchestra to perform, and continued the day’s theme of jazz (with follow-up events dedicated to the genre as well). Seth MacFarlane, Jamie Parker as well as Claire Martin sang with the instrumentalists to bring alive Frank Sinatra’s spirit for this one night.

In the run-up to the event, MacFarlane was the performer who was most mentioned on social media – though not everyone was a fan.

Nevertheless plenty listeners were surprised at the confidence and ability of MacFarlane and plenty of users discovered themselves as fans of Jamie Parker, the standout singer of the night, afterwards as well. Claire Martin sadly missed out, as her time on stage was comparatively short.

Fun on Stage

Clarke Peters, of The Wire fame, and Clemency Burton-Hill appeared on stage before the performance is due to start, as part of the framing broadcast on BBC Radio 3 and television. Quickly they were out of sight and out of mind, as the orchestra and their singers drew us into the world of Frank Sinatra. For the benefit of those without programmes on the night, as well as viewers and listeners at home, the songs were grouped, with the singers taking a moment to reflect on the music and explain Sinatra’s history with the songs.


Loving my Friday night at the #proms Seth macfarlane singing frank Sinatra’s classics..

A video posted by Jimbo James Retrato (@jimbo_in_stockholm) on

Recurring throughout all performances was the indubitable sense of fun all participants had on stage. While MacFarlane was stiffer, he, Parker and Martin were not averse to dancing around stage, shooting winks at the audience and letting the orchestra have their glorious moments sans lyrics.

Slight Hiccups…

Although the singers did well throughout the night to varying degrees, they were all stumped by a common problem: the orchestra tended to overpower them. Several twitter users commented on the quality of the sound mixing, which was noticeable both live and on air.

…But Good Feelings Prevail!

Truly the John Wilson Orchestra was the star of the night. John Wilson himself was a constant source of joy. Occasionally using a reverse baton technique to conduct the large string instruments in opposition to the others, he also tickled crescendos out of the string section, smoothed out imaginary wrinkles with his hands, then sewed up masterpieces of rousing brass with the four trumpet players. You might have even caught a fist pump or two of his!

Bathed in changing light reflecting the sound of the song, everything about Royal Albert Hall transported you into a dream of Sinatra. Tapping into a sense of nostalgia the night appealed to plenty of people and the audience in the pit were definitely in the swing of things too, as the applause rolled on with rounds of foot-stamping in tow by the end of the night!

And while “Mama Will Bark” still very much is in the critics’ doghouse, that didn’t stop canines from enjoying the music on iPlayer afterwards.

The full show is available on iPlayer.