122 years since it was founded and 90 years since the BBC took over the running, financing and broadcasting of the world’s largest classical music festival, the BBC Proms today announces its 2017 season. Presenting over eight weeks of events and more than 90 concerts the festival continues its founder-conductor Henry Wood’s aim of bringing the best classical music to the widest audience.
The festival marks major composer anniversaries in 2017, including Monteverdi at 450, Handel’s Water Music at 300 and John Williams at 85. The birthdays of two pioneers of American Minimalism are also celebrated – John Adams’ 70th birthday is marked throughout the festival including the First and Last nights, and Philip Glass’ 80th birthday is celebrated with the first complete live performance of Passages, the 1990 studio album he created with Ravi Shankar, performed by the Britten Sinfonia, conducted by Karen Kamensek with sitar soloist Anoushka Shankar.
Following its launch last year, the ‘Proms at…’ series returns, matching music to five different venues and for the first time in recent history travels outside of London to Stage@TheDock in Hull, the UK’s 2017 City of Culture, for a concert inspired by the 300thanniversary of the first performance of Handel’s Water Music. As well as eight Proms Chamber Music concerts at Cadogan Hall, the series presents choral music at Southwark Cathedral, music theatre at Wilton’s Music Hall, new and experimental music at the Tanks at Tate Modern, and returns to Bold Tendencies Multi-Storey Car Park in Peckham for a wide-reaching programme featuring The Multi-Story Orchestra and Youth Choir.
The Proms explores the ways in which politics has inspired and influenced composers across the ages through two big historical anniversaries in 2017 – one hundred years since the Russian Revolution, featuring the music of Shostakovich, Prokofiev and Rachmaninov, and the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, which is marked with a special day of concerts curated by Bach specialist John Butt.
Engaging new audiences remains a vital part of the BBC Proms mission as the festival opens its doors through special initiativesincluding the first ever Relaxed Prom. Presented in collaboration with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales (BBC NOW) and the Royal Albert Hall Education & Outreach team, the concert offers an informal environment for people with autism, sensory and communication impairments and learning disabilities as well as individuals who are Deaf, hard of hearing, blind or partially sighted. The Prom, which follows BBC NOW’s first ever Relaxed concert in Cardiff on 2 July, is led by conductor Grant Llewellyn and musician Andy Pidcock. Other concerts designed especially to present classical music to new audiences include Gerard McBurney’s Beyond the Score, which combines actors, projections and live musical examples who explore the history of Dvo?ák’s ‘New World’ Symphony, and Beethoven’s ‘Eroica’ Symphony, deconstructed live on stage by Tom Service and conductor Nicholas Collon, before a performance from memory by the Aurora Orchestra. A series of weekend matinees also offer engaging concerts that present the perfect introduction to classical music at a time of day that is convenient for those who may not be able to attend evening events.
As always the Proms presents a wide range of the very best music, with jazz and soul music a focus in the 2017 season. The festival marks 100 years since the births of Ella Fitzgerald and Dizzy Gillespie with a concert starring vocalist Dianne Reeves and trumpeterJames Morrison. The music of jazz giant Charles Mingus is celebrated by conductor Jules Buckley and his Metropole Orkest, BBC Radio 2 presenter Clare Teal returns with bandleaders Guy Barker and Winston Rollins for a concert celebrating big band legends including Duke Ellington, and Jools Holland & His Rhythm and Blues Orchestra pay tribute to the legendary Stax/Volt Revue, credited for its championing of Southern and Memphis soul music.
The refreshed Proms website – bbc.co.uk/proms – reflects the entire festival offering. The ‘Proms Unplucked’ Podcast, presented by comedian and composer Vicki Stone, offers a unique backstage view of the whole festival.
Tickets are available via bbc.co.uk/proms or 0845 401 5040 and in person at the Royal Albert Hall as follows:
- General booking opens at 9.00am on Saturday 13 May
- Season and Weekend Promming Passes are available to purchase from 9.00am on Thursday 11 May.
- Proms Chamber Music Series Passes are available to purchase from 9.00am on Thursday 11 May.
- Tickets for the Ten Pieces Presents…Proms (Proms 11 and 12) are available to purchase from 9.00am on Friday 12 May.
- Tickets for the Relaxed Prom (Prom 19), including a limited number of Promming tickets, are available to purchase from 9.00am on Friday 12 May.