BBC defends Proms conductor after "unjustified personal attacks"

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File photo dated 13/9/2014 of members of the audience during the Last Night of the Proms at the Royal Albert Hall, London. The BBC risked a fresh row after announcing that traditional favourites such as Land Of Hope And Glory will be performed without lyrics at the Proms.
The BBC has defended the Last Night of the Proms conductor after a report saying there were fears of a backlash if Rule Britannia! was performed. (PA)

The BBC has criticised social media attacks made against this year’s Last Night of the Proms conductor amid the Rule Britannia! controversy.

The Sunday Times reported that organisers feared a backlash if the anthem was played, along with Land of Hope and Glory, because of a perceived association with slavery and colonialism.

It drew anger from supporters of the music, and it has since been confirmed the pieces will be played but without singing.

Some Twitter users criticised this year’s conductor, Dalia Stasevska, from Finland, but the BBC has moved to defend her.

AUGUST 13, 2019: ADELAIDE, SA - (EUROPE AND AUSTRALASIA OUT) Finnish Conductor Dalia Stasevska poses during a photo shoot in Adelaide, South Australia. (Photo by Matt Turner / Newspix via Getty Images)
Dalia Stasevska was criticised on Twitter, but the BBC has moved to defend her. (Newspix via Getty Images)
Festival goers sing Rule Brittania at BBC Proms in the Park, in Hyde Park, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday September 10, 2016. Photo credit should read: Matt Crossick/PA Wire.
Rule Britannia! and Land of Hope and Glory will be performed without vocals. (PA)

The corporation’s statement said: “We very much regret the unjustified personal attacks on Dalia Stasevska, BBC Symphony Orchestra principal guest conductor, made on social media and elsewhere.

“As ever, decisions about the Proms are made by the BBC, in consultation with all artists involved.”

Anger expressed at the report included one Twitter user who said Stasevska showed “extraordinary arrogance and insensitivity”.

Some users’ comments aimed at Stasevska told her to “stay in Finland” while others told her to step down or criticised her for accepting the role if “you do not like our traditions”.

A general view of the BBC headquarters in London, Sunday, Nov, 11, 2012. The head of the BBC's governing body said Sunday the broadcaster needs a radical overhaul following the resignation of its chief executive in wake of a scandal over a botched report on child sex-abuse allegations. Chris Patten vowed to restore confidence and trust in the BBC, which is reeling from the resignation of George Entwistle and the scandals prompting his ouster. Entwistle resigned Saturday night amid a storm of controversy after a news program wrongly implicated a British politician in a child sex-abuse scandal, deepening a crisis sparked by revelations it decided not to air similar allegations against one of its own stars.(AP Photo/Alastair Grant)
The BBC has defended the Last Night of the Proms conductor. (AP)

Another said she didn’t “deserve to be invited back to play ever again at the Proms”.

Stasevska’s website says she became the principal guest conductor with the BBC Symphony Orchestra from July 2019, making her debut at the Proms last year.

It adds that she is due to debut with the Montreal and Toronto Symphony orchestras, National Symphony Orchestra Washington, Orchestre National de France and the Orchestre National de Belgique.

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Stasevska, who studied as a violinist and composer at Finland’s Tampere Conservatoire, conducted the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic at the Nobel Prize Ceremony in Stockholm in December 2018.

Previously, she has tweeted about campaigning for equality, and earlier in the summer encouraged her followers to listen to a BBC programme about classical music and race.

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She previously tweeted about her excitement at being chosen to conduct at this year’s event.

“I’m really honoured to conduct Last Night of the Proms this year! Whilst @bbcproms will be so exceptional this year, we’ll carry on great spirits and determination and will be waiting for our wonderful audiences in joining us through the radio & tv,” she said.

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