BBC Proms season opens in July

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The Royal Albert Hall
Credit: BBC

The BBC has announced details of its 2013 Proms season, and – as ever – there’s a wealth of wonderful concerts to enjoy.  The 119th season of what is undoubtedly the greatest classical music festival in the world opens at London’s Royal Albert Hall on 12th July, with an impressive line-up of some of the greatest artists, orchestras and ensembles appearing over 92 concerts in the biggest ever broadcast Proms festival.

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Daniel Barenboim
Credit: Chris Christodoulou

Amongst the highlights are Daniel Barenboim’s complete Ring Cycle, with the Staatskapelle Berlin.  Part of the celebrations for the 200th anniversary of the birth of Richard Wagner, these performances mark not only the first complete Wagner Ring Cycle to be performed at the Proms in one season, but also Barenboim’s first performance of a Wagner opera in the United Kingdom.

The  Wagner anniversary will be celebrated further with performances of three of his operas by British orchestras, under the direction of leading exponents of his work –Tristan and Isolde by the BBC Symphony Orchestra led by Semyon Bychkov, Tannhäuser by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and Donald Runnicles, and Parsifal by the Hallé under Sir Mark Elder.

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Semyon Bychkov
Credit: Chris Christodoulou

Guiseppe Verdi’s bi-centenary will be marked with performances of his works by two Italian orchestras, and two centenaries will also be celebrated during the season – those of Benjamin Britten and Witold Lutoslawski – with Britten’s Four Sea Interludes on the programme for the opening night of the festival.

Of special interest is the concert on 20th August which was to have been conducted by the late Sir Colin Davies. Daniel Harding, in his role as Principal Guest Conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra, will lead the LSO in a concert dedicated to the memory of Sir Colin who, from 1960, led more than 140 Proms over a period of more than 50 years.  Harding also conducts a Prom with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra earlier in the season.

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Marin Alsop
Credit: Grant Leighton

The Last Night of the Proms will also take its place in history this year, as Marin Alsop becomes the first woman to conduct this world-famous event.  She’ll be joined by Nigel Kennedy – who appears in an earlier Proms performance with Vivaldi’s Four Seasons – and mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato.  There are four Proms in the Park events that evening – in London’s Hyde Park (where Nigel Kennedy and Joseph Calleja will appear), on Glasgow Green, in Caerphilly in Wales, and another in Northern Ireland.  As before, there’ll be a live link-up to the Royal Albert Hall for the traditional Last Night of the Proms singalong.

Other concerts of note include a complete cycle of Tchaikovsky’s symphonies and some of the more rarely performed piano concertos, including Malcolm Arnold’s Concerto for Two Pianos (Three Hands), the Piano Concerto No 2 by Glazunov and Stravinsky’s Concerto for Piano and Wind Instruments.

There’s a celebration of 50 years of the BBC’s Dr Who television series, and two Proms dedicated to music from the big screen – the John Wilson Orchestra presents an evening of Hollywood glamour, and classic British and American film scores will be performed by the BBC Concert Orchestra.

The programmes also include a number of BBC commissions – a selection from contemporary UK composers, three celebrating India’s musical heritage, and a piano concerto by experimental composer Frederic Rzewski. There will also be a world premiere performance of a work by Benjamin Britten, and a new orchestration by Anthony Payne of Vaughan Williams’ Four Last Songs.

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A Proms concert at the Royal Albert Hall
Credit: Chris Christodoulou

The impressive line-up of conductors also includes Sakari Oramo – who conducts the First Night of the Proms, marking the beginning of his tenure as Chief Conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra – Sir Andrew Davis, Sir John Eliot Gardiner, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Charles Dutoit, Yannick Nézét-Seguin, Jonathan Nott and Osmo Vänskä,

Notable pairings include include Valery Gergiev with the London Symphony Orchestra, Sir Antonio Pappano conducting the Orchestra of the Academy of Santa Cecilia, Rome, Lorin Maazel with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, Vasily Petrenko directing the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra – of which he’s the newly appointed Chief Conductor – and Mariss Jansons – who celebrates his 70th birthday this year – conducting the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra.

The Warsaw Philharmonic – under Antoni Witt – and the Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano Guiseppe Verdi, led by Xian Zhang, make their first appearances at the Royal Albert Hall.  The mainstay of the season will once again be provided by the six BBC performing ensembles.

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Stephen Hough
Credit: Sim-Canetty-Clarke

Amongst popular artists making a return visit to the Proms are Stephen Hough – performing on the opening night – Imogen Cooper, Midori, Mitsuko Uchida, and star of the 2012 Last Night of the Proms, Joseph Calleja.  Also appearing are Jean-Yves Thibaudet, Tine Thing Helseth, Vadim Repin, Daniel Hope and Daniil Trifonov.

The National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain gives the first ever free main evening Prom, and Joshua Bell appears with the National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America.  On the opening night of the season, the Proms Youth Choir joins forces with the BBC Symphony Chorus to form a 450-strong choir for Vaughan Wiliams’ A Sea Symphony.

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Joshua Bell
Credit: Lisa Marie Mazzucco

This Proms season will be broadcast on more BBC platforms than ever before – across BBC One, BBC Two, BBC Three and BBC Four.  BBC Radio 3 will carry live broadcasts of every Prom and the audio will be streamed online in HD quality, with additional broadcasts on Radio 1, 1Xtra, Radio 2, 4 Extra, 6 Music and the Asian Network.  The Cadogan Hall Proms chamber music concerts will be filmed for the BBC website and a selection will be recorded for broadcast on BBC Four.

Booking for the Proms opened on May 11th, and a record number of 114,000 tickets were sold in the first 12 hours.  Tickets are still available for the vast majority of events, though, and can be bought on the day of the concerts as well.

The 2013 Proms season runs from July 12th to September 7th at the Royal Albert Hall.  For full details of the season and booking, please visit: bbc.co.uk/proms

Royal Albert Hall

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