John Adams’ insistent piece ‘A Short Ride in a Fast Machine’ popped up on my Shuffle this week, which reminded me of its fated history with the Last Night of the BBC’s Proms. ‘A Short Ride’ is a little over four minutes long, driven along at pace for most of that time by an urgent percussion which cuts through the orchestra.
It’s been scheduled twice for the Last Night of the Proms, and pulled each time. On the first occasion Diana died in a car crash just before the concert; on the second, the planes went in to the Twin Towers. The Proms planners held their nerve and it has been featured twice since on concerts for a younger audience, the Blue Peter Prom in 2004 and the Dr Who prom in 2010. But will Fast Ride In A Short Machine ever be scheduled again for The Proms’ last night? Depends on how superstitious you are.