Summer has arrived and we can now look forward to the 120th season of the BBC Promenade Concerts. Running from 18th July to 13th September the season opens with Sir Andrew Davis conducting the BBC Symphony Chorus and Orchestra and the BBC National Chorus of Wales with Erin Wall (soprano), Catherine Wyn-Rogers (mezzo-soprano) Andrew Staples (tenor) and Christopher Purves (baritone) in Elgar’s great oratorio, The Kingdom.
The world’s biggest and longest-running classical music festival this year sees, by my reckoning, no less than five London Premieres, ten UK Premieres, three European Premieres and seven World Premieres from composers such as Roxanna Panunik, John Tavener, David Horne, Barrie Bignold, Jonathan Dove, Gabriel Prokofiev, Sally Beamish, John McLeod, Luca Francesconi, Helen Grime, Bernard Rands, Benedict Mason, Kareem Roustom, Ayal Adler, Haukur Tómasson, Jukka Tiensuu, Bill Whelan, Zhou Long, John Adams, Behzad Ranjbaran, Jörg Widmann, Peter Maxwell Davies, Dave Brubeck and Chris Brubeck.
British music is again well represented with works by Walton, Holst, Moeran, Gurney, Vaughan Williams, Tavener, Maxwell Davies, Alwyn, Britten, Bax and Birtwistle. This being the 80th birthday years for both Sir Peter Maxwell Davies and Sir Harrison Birtwistle there are a number of their works being performed including a Sir Peter Maxwell Davies Birthday Concert (8th September) and a Saturday Matinee: A Portrait of Sir Harrison Birtwistle (6th September).
Other musical fare ranges right across the spectrum with works by Beethoven, Mahler, Mozart, Bach, Berlioz, Wagner, Nielsen, Sibelius, Prokofiev, Bruch, Ravel, Shostakovich, Stravinsky, Dvorak, Tchaikovsky, Copland, Brahms, Rachmaninov, Respighi, Debussy, Kodaly, Schubert, Grieg, Janáček, Szymanowski, Schumann, Rameau, Bruch, Berio, Cole Porter, Balakirev, Handel, Bartok and Mussorgsky
The 150th anniversary of the birth of Richard Strauss is celebrated by 17 works across 13 Proms and includes Glyndebourne Festival Opera’s Der Rosenkavalier conducted by Robin Ticciati with Kate Royal as Marschallin, Salome from Deutsche Oper Berlin conducted by Donald Runnicles, and Elektra with the BBC Singers, BBC Symphony Orchestra conducted by Semyon Bychkov
Visiting orchestras include China Philharmonic Orchestra/Long Yu, World Orchestra for Peace/Valery Gergiev, Tonhalle Orchetra Zurich/David Zinman, Les Arts Florissants/William Christie, European Youth Orchestra/Semyon Bychkov, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra/Andrew Davis, West-Eastern Divan Orchestra/Daniel Barenboim, Iceland Symphony Orchestra/Ilan Volkov, Czech Philharmoic Orchestra/Jiří Bělohlávek, Budapest Festival Orchestra/Iván Fischer, Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra/Myung-Whun Chung, Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra/Daniel Harding, Singapore Symphony Orchestra/Lan Shui, Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra/Simon Rattle, Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra/Han-Na Chang, Cleveland Orchestra/Franz Welser-Möst and Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra/Riccardo Chailly.
There are chamber music concerts and Saturday matinées from Cadogan Hall as well as lighter fare such as the CBeebies Prom (26 July), War Horse Prom (3rd August), BBC Sport Prom (20th July), Battle of the Bands (8th August), Late Night with Laura Mvula (19th August), Late Night with Paloma Faith (5th September) and Late Night with Rufus Wainwright (11th September).
The season will end with the Last Night of the Proms on Saturday 13th September, with, this year, the BBC Symphony Orchestra conducted by Sakari Oramo. We must not forget Proms in the Park that runs alongside the last night from 5.15pm until around 10.30pm.
I have not been able to do more than scratch the surface of all the concerts taking place so please go to the BBC Proms website for full details www.bbc.co.uk/proms and, indeed to book your tickets. All Proms concerts can be heard live on BBC Radio 3 www.bbc.co.uk/radio3
Sadly Roger Wright, the controller of Radio 3 and director of the BBC Proms, is to leave the BBC after more than 15 years. BBC Director General, Tony Hall, has said, ‘Over the last 15 years Roger has made a huge contribution to the BBC, through the success of both Radio 3 and seven seasons of the Proms.’ I agree wholeheartedly with those sentiments and wish him all best wishes for the future.