The first night of the Proms 2019 saw the massed forces of the BBC choirs and symphony orchestra come together to create a memorable musical journey under the baton of highly acclaimed conductor Karina Canellakis with Dvorak symphonic poem The Golden Spinning Wheel Janacek’s monumental Glagolitic Mass and a world premiere of Zosha Di Castri’s piece Long Is the Journey, Short Is the Memory, inspired by the Apollo 11 Moon landing. When invited to see the greatest classical music festival in the world being launched there was no hesitation.
Marking the 150th anniversary of founder-conductor Sir Henry Wood’s birth, the 2019 BBC Proms presents one of its most diverse programmes yet, continuing to fulfil his mission to bring “the best of classical music to the widest possible audience”. Remaining faithful to Wood’s mission to “bring the best of classical music to the widest possible audience”, the Proms offers a wealth of genres and styles in a range of contexts. Whether it’s Murray Perahia performing Beethoven’s 4th Piano Concerto with the Vienna Philharmonic under Bernard Haitink or a Prom dedicated to the genius of Nina Simone with Ledisi and Jules Buckley, the quality and range of what’s on offer showcases the very best of music.
As an educationalist, conductor and champion of young people, Henry Wood provided countless opportunities for aspiring young artists to get involved in classical music; it’s a proud tradition that the Proms continues to reflect today. This season celebrates the 20th anniversary of BBC Radio 3’s New Generation Artists scheme, featuring 12 of its alumni. Elsewhere, other notable debuts take to the concert platform, including Leeds International Piano Competition winner Eric Lu and Lithuanian soprano Asmik Grigorian. Once again, BBC Proms Learning offers a diverse-range of creative opportunities beyond the concert platform. Initiatives such as BBC Proms Inspire for composers, Proms Youth Choir Academy, and the Proms Youth Ensemble will reach hundreds of young people this year.
But there is more to be found at the Proms than classical music. From afropop to jazz, East Coast hip hop to South Italian pizzica, and electronica to meditative listening, this will be a truly eclectic celebration of the diversification of music. A Prom devoted to the music of singer, pianist, and social activist Nina Simone explores her background and enduring influence; and an exhilarating evening of dance, song and spectacle, Duke Ellington’s Sacred Music is presented in a Late Night Prom. From breakdancing to MC-ing and DJ-ing to graffiti art, The Breaks will honour the global phenomenon of hip hop and, in particular, breakbeat culture. The Late-Night Mixtape Prom will bring together an eclectic range of classical and contemporary sounds. Bringing the popular concept of a music-mix into a ‘live’ context, this Prom will feed into the experiential model that drives so much of music consumption today, where immersion and discovery is key.
There are also theme based highlights with one celebrating the Apollo 11 landing on the Moon. The Proms ponders how composers across the centuries have imagined and created the sound of space. The first work heard at the 2019 BBC Proms was a BBC commission and world premiere from Zosha Di Castri, Long Is The Journey, Short Is The Memory, inspired by this monumental event. On the very day that marks the 50th anniversary of the Moon Landings, Holst’s The Planets is complemented by John Adams’s ever-popular Short Ride In A Fast Machine. The CBeebies Prom will offer families the chance to travel through time and space with some famous faces including Mr Tumble and Chris Jarvis, hosted by YolanDa Brown, featuring Chineke! Orchestra under Kwamé Ryan.
David Pickard, Director, BBC Proms, says: “The Proms in 2019 gives a snapshot of all that is most exciting in our musical world today. It is the chance to hear some of the most celebrated ensembles and artists from across the globe, a showcase for the vibrant orchestral life that exists in the UK, and a celebration of the diversity of contemporary music in the 21st century. All of this is underpinned by the proud tradition of promming which allows audiences to enjoy this vast range of music for just £6 per concert. As we celebrate 150 years since Henry Wood’s birthday, the Proms continues to explore new ground whilst celebrating the founding principles of the festival - to bring the best of classical music to the widest possible audience.”
Across more than 90 concerts over eight weeks, the Proms draws the world’s greatest classical musicians to London. From Martha Argerich and Daniel Barenboim to Joyce DiDonato and Sir Antonio Pappano, the festival will amplify the work of today’s most acclaimed artists. Mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton will feature at the world-famous Last Night Of The Proms, Sheku Kanneh-Mason will perform Elgar’s Cello Concerto, and Nicola Benedetti and Pekka Kuusisto contribute to a season-wide survey of well-loved and lesser-known violin concerti.
And finally take note: In the bicentenary year of Queen Victoria’s birth, Stephen Hough performs Mendelssohn’s Piano Concerto No. 1 on her very own piano. Loaned from the Royal Collection by Her Majesty The Queen, this will be the first time the piano will be played outside Buckingham Palace. The programme also includes songs written by Prince Albert. That will be a night to remember in The Royal Albert Hall as much as the iconic last night with its Pomp and Circumstance. Please join us there.