Memoirs: BBC 1Xtra Proms

Written by Olivia for

Until late September, the BBC Proms will be playing at the Royal Albert Hall. It's a showcase of the best classical music from around the world. But what happens when you mix a live orchestra with grime?

This time last year I was lucky enough to get press tickets to the BBC 1Xtra Prom. The world renowned Metropole Orkest orchestra took to the stage with a line-up unlike any other. Krept & Konan, Kano, Lethal Bizzle and new-kid-on-the-block Stormzy were amongst some of the performers on the night.

At the time I was working for BBC Radio 4's Front Row, a daily arts programme. Even during rehearsals throughout the day, it was clear how excited the MCs and artists on the bill were to be doing something so different to their usual scene. The Royal Albert Hall is one of the most renowned venues in the world, where the likes of Frank Sinatra, Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles and Led Zeppelin have all performed. I was excited and intrigued to see what a night of grime would bring.

It was amazing, and the energy throughout was infectious. The crowd ranged from 16-year-old South Londoners to 50-year-old Proms regulars, all coming together to appreciate a great performance. It's hard to imagine how the strings and keys of a classical orchestra could keep up with the high octane bass of grime - but somehow they managed it. The Metropole Orkest mastered sharp breaks and a cranked up PA system, whilst the legends of grime filled the stage with passion and charisma. It was something new for the Royal Albert Hall, bringing both different genres and people together.

There's something about live music that feels more exciting and more inclusive than a CD ever could. One of the aims of the BBC Proms is to introduce new audiences to orchestral music; and what better way to do that than break down the traditional barriers that separate classical from jazz, or pop from rock music. At the BBC 1Xtra Prom, grime got its chance to show it's much more than just fast-paced rhythms and edgy lyrics. It’s clear grime has safely solidified itself as the sound of today’s youth culture.

Wretch 32, who headlined the event, and was as charming as his music, told us: "It's not every day you get to do something like this, and we wanted to showcase our skills and show that we can take our music to the next dynamic as well."

Whether you’re a music maker or simply music lover, it's important to stretch yourself and step out of your comfort zone every now and again. Grime might not be classical music, but it’s full of classics for generation 94five.