Put your hands together for the BBC Proms, the grand old classical music party that defines a nation.

Every story, they say, has a beginning, a middle and an end. And if you were like me as a teenager, and thrived on the whodunits of Messrs Poirot and Holmes, it was a constant battle not to flick forward so that the very first thing you read was actually the end, the great unmasking, invariably the great unmasking, invariably the most exciting scene in the book. Well, there’s a music festival rather like that, one where everyone focusses right from the beginning on its last concert, and it’s not a whodunit but it is a “whowilldoit” – as all observers strain to be the first to discover who has been chosen to perform and conduct in the Last Night of the Proms.

This year the honoured maestro – or maestra in fact – is Marin Alsop (pictured), and what do the newspaper stories scream? “First woman to conduct the Last Night!” And almost never mind the rest. “The Proms tend to be either incredibly well-known and people feel deeply connected to the festival, or otherwise if it is known, then it is known...