#BRISTOLPROMS DAY 1 – Prombassadors: Nell

Rebecca Nell Snell

Rebecca Nell Snell

Rebecca ‘Nell’ Snell
Soon to be drama and creative writing student and aspiring actor/musician/writer/composer/director/general story teller and theatre maker.

Rule #1: Clap whenever you want

There are people who dismiss contemporary popular music because of the noise made by the audience. People who tut pointedly at the T.V when the screams of festival fans obscure the opening bars of a well-loved song. How disruptive, they cry, how inappropriate, how disrespectful to the performer!

I have come round to the idea of responding in the very moment in which the urge to respond should take you, it makes the audience part of the proceedings. After all, what could be more disrespectful to a performer than the audience not responding at all? It feels as though sometimes the fear of not giving the performer just auditory feedback versus the fear of standing out and offending the occasion are caught in equilibrium, resulting in a stiff-backed catatonia of indecision. Hang on, we’re supposed to be enjoying ourselves!

Ovation fearing, musical conservatives beware. At the Bristol Proms your safety net is gone. Time to stand on your own two feet. In an ovation . Whilst screaming.

However, for those of us finding this transition bewildering, I’ve written some guidelines:

Suggestions of when to applaud/emit alternative response:

  • A heart-felt sentiment
  • A belted high note
  • A sustained virtuoso passage
  • In time to the beat
  • For a piece you like that you’ve never come across before
  • For a revival of an old favourite
  • In between the movements of a piece
  • In short, do whenever you like

Suggestions of alternative responses:

  • Sigh
  • Laugh
  • Smile
  • Shout for joy
  • Gasp
  • Slump in your seat
  • Close your eyes in rapture
  • Nod
  • Shrug
  • Dance
  • Sit completely still and give no outward sign of your innermost thoughts but tweet them afterwards
  • In short, do whatever you like

Bryn Terfel – My Life in Song
Bristol Proms – Mon 28th July 2014

The View From the Pit

We troop into ‘the pit’ and huddle around the edges. The pit is new and people are unsure how to treat it. One brave lone man strides forward and takes a picture. Gradually the rest of us edge forward.

Bryn Terfel. Photography Mark Douet

Bryn Terfel.
Photography Mark Douet


It’s incredible being so close to that voice. Bryn describes being ‘engulfed’ in the songs he was set to learn, and we are engulfed by his enormous voice as he shares them with us. Standing at the front of the pit and looking back you get a view over the auditorium that, as an audience member, you don’t often see. It is an inclusive venue, when the singer (in our case THE singer) stands at the front, the acoustic is complete and it makes sense that this venue was built for music as well as theatre.

It’s fun to watch people watch a performer, especially one as engaging as Bryn Terfal. With my back to the wall of the pit I can watch Bryn, I can watch John Suchet, watching Bryn and I can watch the audience. John Suchet refers to the audience as a body with likes, dislikes and opinions, as if we are the third person in their conversation. Actually, there are four entities in this conversation; Bryn, John, the audience and the music, which speaks for itself.

Bryn’s encore is The Green Eyed Dragon by Wolseley Charles, during which he list the things the dragon like to eat, which includes ‘little boys’. There is a fairly small boy right at the front of the pit and each time this line is sung Bryn gestures to him in a different way. The audience at the front grow to expect it and it becomes more and more hilarious.

As an aspiring performer, it’s always heartening to hear someone who’s so completely ‘Made It’ lamenting lost competitions, failed auditions and taking small parts. I will finish with Bryn’s top advice for impressing opera houses when you’re starting out: ‘Just be a nice guy and they might invite you back.’ Love it!

Overheard at Bristol Proms

One Prombassador’s account of the utterances* of the people in the pit, staircases and foyer – thankyou general public for your wisdom!

Disclaimer: Utterances are held in the prombassador’s head only for as long as it takes her to reach a pen to ensure maximum accuracy is retained.

In Response to Bryn Terfal: My Life in Song

‘I can think of so many people I wish had been here to see that’

‘That was truly Once in a Lifetime’

‘I wonder if he adequately replaces the fluid he loses by those plosives when he drinks?’

‘He’s properly nice isn’t he? Like properly, properly nice.’

‘What a voice’

‘I can feel the floor vibrating when he does low vibrato’

In Response to The Erebus Ensemble’s Bach in the Dark

‘And when that soprano sang right behind me. Oh my god her voice. It was just like ridiculously perfect.’

‘That conductor has so much energy, and I do love a Welsh accent’

In Response to Lisa Batiashvilli and her ensemble

‘I wish this place was used more for music like this-the acoustic is so perfect’

‘they’re like the Beyonce and JayZ of classical music’

#BRISTOLPROMS DAY 1 – Prombassadors: Jon James
#BRISTOLPROMS DAY 1 – Prombassadors: Mark Edmundson
#BRISTOLPROMS DAY 1 – Prombassadors: Guy Withers


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