World class music-making from leading artists around the globe, emerging talent, and today's most innovative composers will create a new-look festival for 2020. From Friday 17 July BBC Radio 3 will present past Proms concerts every evening – and music-lovers can help choose the content. There will also be a weekly Late Night Prom, and a Monday lunchtime offering.
Above all, the famous Last Night of the Proms will take place, in a different but recognisably traditional format. And leading up to that, from Friday 28 August the plan is to have musicians perform live at the Royal Albert Hall, traditional home of the Proms. Works will range from solo performances to ensemble work.
Proms founder Sir Henry Wood presides over the festival, which will have a different form this year.
The remarkable summer of music that is the Proms was created 125 years by Sir Henry Wood – ‘to bring the greatest classical music to the widest possible audience’. Even with fewer live concerts, that vision continues, thanks to modern media. The Proms will be available on several platforms, and BBC Four will broadcast stand-out Proms every Sunday throughout the festival.
Artists will be favourite names and bright new talents. The full schedule of events and line-up will be announced nearer the time. It isn't yet clear whether a live audience can be involved. Several artsinstitutions are looking at ways of social distancing audiences in large outdoor spaces.
In a First Night venture, 350 musicians will make up the Grand Virtual Orchestra, bringing together players from the BBC orchestras and the BBC Singers. In this big Beethoven year, marking 250 years since the composer's birth, a new mash-up of all nine symphonies has been created by Iain Farrington.
Cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason played the Elgar Cello Concerto at last year's Proms and is a sure favourite for this year's event. Photo: Lars Borges
Audiences, including the famous Prommers, who traditionally stand for the whole concert, are always at the heart of the Proms. This year audiences will help shape the programme: tell Radio 3 about your favourite Proms moment and it could be added to the schedule, making 2020 the year of the People’s Proms.
David Pickard, director BBC Proms, says: 'This year it is not going to be the Proms as we know them, but the Proms as we need them.' Alan Davey, BBC Radio 3 and classical music controller, adds: 'The Proms will continue to mean summer for music lovers everywhere.'
With many great artists living in London and the rest of the country, expect some familiar names. A big hit last year was cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason. Pianist Stephen Hough, who launches the new live Wigmore Hall lunchtime concerts on Monday 1 June will also be in demand by Proms followers. Many will hope, too, to hear pianist Isata Kanneh-Mason, whose Royal Albert Hall concert earlier this year was postponed.
Isata Kanneh-Mason is one of the many emerging British artists popular with audiences. Photo: Robin Clewley
Two CBeebies Proms were a big hit of the Proms last year, and there is sure to be something again for families. Watch Culture Whisper for more details of this, and all the People's Proms highlights, by and by...
|What||BBC Proms 2020|
|Where||BBC Four | MAP|
|Nearest tube||South Kensington (underground)|
17 Jul 20 – 12 Sep 20, Eight weeks of concerts, from the archive and live
|Website||Click here for more information|