Teodor Curentzis injects new energy into established classics. Photo: Alice Calypso
that run through the Proms include commemorations of the end of the
First World War, the centenary of the first votes for women, music
by women composers, the music of France and music for young people.
are some astonishing feats of memory – Aurora Orchestra playing Shostakovich’s
Symphony No. 9 (6 Aug) and the pianist Andras Schiff playing Bach (29
centenary of the birth of the composer and conductor Leonard
Bernstein is marked with concerts including music from Candide and concert performances of West Side
Story (11 Aug) and On The Town (25 Aug). The Minnesota Orchestra,
playing Bernstein’s Overture to Candide (6 Aug) is one of three US
orchestras visiting the Proms. Look out too for the Baltimore
Symphony Orchestra under Marin Alsop (27 Aug).
American conductor Marin Alsop is a favourite with Proms audiences. Photo: Adrian White
French theme running through the Proms cues the music of Berlioz,
Messiaen and Debussy, in
the year that marks the centenary of the composer’s death.
mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato joins Sir John Eliot Gardener and the
Orchestre Révolutionaire et Romantique (5 Sept) for an all-Berlioz
programme. Worth listening out for too are Messiaen’s mighty
Turangalîla Symphony (18 July), Fauré’s soulful Pavane (14 July)
and Debussy’s atmospheric La Mer (4 Aug).
essential works at the heart of every child’s musical education are
played in the Ten Pieces Proms (29 July), with works by Copland,
Stravinsky, Tchaikovsky and others.
Young musicians will contribute to the Ten Pieces Prom, which introduces children to core classics
highly recommended for younger audiences is the concert marking 40
years of the BBC Young Musician (15 July). Finalist
from the 2016 competition, the brilliant saxophonist Jess Gillam,
performs in the massive Last Night of the Proms (8 Sept).
Last Night features a new commission by Roxanna Panufnik, one of the
most appealing composers working in Britain today. Her generation of women composers follows trailblazers including Lili Boulanger, the centenary
of whose death is marked in a number of programmes, and Ethel Smyth,
whose music is played (1 Aug) by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales.
orchestras are at the heart of the Proms, the biggest music festival
in the world, and that means broadcasts on radio and television for
armchair music-lovers. BBC Four’s Friday and Sunday visits, from 15
July to 7 September, include several concerts ideal for the whole
family, including Grieg’s Piano Concerto (17 Aug), with soloist
Saxophonist Jess Gillam, who plays on the Last Night, was a BBC Young Musician finalist. Photo: Kauko Kikkas
music from all over the Western world and beyond is played, there is
a strong British thread running through the Proms, demonstrating the
influence of other European composers in particular on those writing
here. The operetta Trial By Jury by Victorian satirists WS
Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan re-opens the newly restored theatre at
Alexandra Palace (1 Sept).
Proms that go outside the Royal Albert Hall include the London
Sinfonietta’s Camden Roundhouse concert of contemporary music (21
July) and, at Lincoln’s Drill Hall (4 Aug), two performances of
Stravinsky’s music-theatre piece The Soldier’s Tale.
Opera at the Proms includes a concert performance of Handel's moving Theodora (7 Sept), with the outstanding soprano Louise Alder (who was audience favourite at Cardiff Singer of the World) and the counter-tenor Iestyn Davies, back from a run on Broadway with Mark Rylance in Farinelli and the King.
There is more music for voices. Traditionally
the Proms includes a performance of Beethoven's Symphony No. 9,
concluding with the Ode to Joy, adopted as the anthem of the EU. This year the piece is performed (21 July) with Britten's Sinfonia da Requiem. In 2017 ushers intervened when concert-goers waved EU flags in Beethoven's rousing last movement. You can be sure pro-EU Prommers will be
joining in with even greater passion this year.
Sir Andrew Davies conducts The Last Night of the Proms for the 12th time. It will be his 130th Prom. Photo: Dario Acosta
whose attend other Proms can enter a ballot for tickets to the Last
Night, and at Proms in the Park (8 Sept) in Hyde Park, there is a
programme of live music before the open-air audience joins those in
the Royal Albert Hall via the big screen.
Whether you are a classical music addict or new to concert-going, the BBC Proms offers unbeatable programmes in a lively and relaxed atmosphere. You can stand (or sit, or lie) in the Arena, or right under the great Royal Albert Hall domed ceiling, or watch in greater comfort from seating all over the great concert hall. Late-night events are particularly magical.
Look out soon for Culture Whisper's recommended Proms, from Bach to Bernstein and back again.
Public booking for the BBC Proms opens on 12 May. Click here before that date to build your own Proms planner ready for tickets going on sale.
|What||BBC Proms 2018: a summer of music at the Royal Albert Hall and beyond|
|Where||Royal Albert Hall, Kensington Gore, London, SW7 2AP | MAP|
|Nearest tube||South Kensington (underground)|
13 Jul 18 – 08 Sep 18, 100-plus events, times vary
|Price||£6 - £60|
|Website||Click here for more information and booking|