Anyone watching the BBC Proms special on Discovery

In case you're interested, Discovery HD has been showing a high-definition recording of the last night of the 2003 BBC Proms, with Leonard Slatkin directing. The interaction between audience and performers was fascinating to watch. The star of the show was definitely the soprano, Angela Gheorgiu.

Three questions for anyone who's in the know about such things.

1.) How did the Proms get started?
2.) Is there an American orchestra with a comparable tradition?
3.) How does Gheorgiu rate as a singer? (To my completely untrained ear, she sounded remarkable.)
Not that I have anything to add, but I watch the HD shows and they are alot of fun...I have seen several Proms also some Opera along with many rock shows in INHD.