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28 August

28 August

Sounds of Musical Theatre

RICE BUBBLES:. Composer and venue owner Andrew Lloyd Webber has stepped into the ongoing debate surrounding the performances of Rule, Britannia. at the BBC Proms.

This weekend rumours began to swirl that two songs Rule, Britannia. and Land of Hope and Glory may be cut from the iconic Last Night of the Proms, well before the confirmed set list had been revealed. As reported earlier this week, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden, who has drawn repeated fire from the arts industry for a delayed response to the ongoing pandemic, was quick to step in on the Proms setlist, saying that the two numbers should be retained in full.

The setlist, since announced, will feature the two numbers but the decision has been made to remove the lyrics, which in turn caused further outcry petitions have been set up to reinstate the words, with the BBC accused by some publications of censoring the tunes, due to their association with British imperialism and colonial history. Now Lloyd Webber, responsible for the likes of Jesus Christ Superstar and The Phantom of the Opera has given his thoughts on the matter in a new letter to The Times. Within the letter, Lloyd Webber states that Rule, Brittania would sound ordinary at best if it was performed without lyrics, but that there are many a writer who could fix any offending lyrics such as those referencing slavery.

Lloyd Webber has an obvious solution In the 50th anniversary year of Jesus Christ Superstar, the BBC should send for Tim Rice. Rice, a prolific lyricist who has been responsible for the likes of Evita, The Wizard of Oz, Beauty and the Beast, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and more, is one of 16 artists to have won an Emmy, Oscar, Grammy and Tony (commonly known as an EGOT). RIce has yet to respond to Lloyd Webbers comments.

A number of thought leaders have voiced concerns over the existing lyrics. Talking to The Guardian, the founder of Chineke. (an orchestra where the musicians are majority Black, Asian and ethnically diverse) Chi-chi Nwanoku said of Rule Britannia: Its so irrelevant to todays society.

Its been irrelevant for generations, and we seem to keep perpetuating it. Historian David Olusoga added in an interview on BBC Five Live that, as a Black man, it makes him feel uncomfortable to hear the song, and that hed rather the Proms instead featured William Blake and Charles Hubert Parrys Jerusalem seen by many as an unofficial national anthem. Jerusalem is now set to be performed alongside Rule, Britannia and Land of Hope and Glory.


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