Friday 13 July – Saturday 8 September
Royal Albert Hall, London
BBC Radio 3, BBC TV and online
The 2012 BBC Proms is officially launched today, revealing details of the wide-ranging programme of events planned for its 118th season. Opening at the Royal Albert Hall on 13 July 2012 the festival promises two months of the world’s greatest artists, composers, orchestras and ensembles across 92 concerts including four Last Night celebrations around the UK.
With the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the Olympics, this summer promises to be unlike any other, and as such the Proms is delighted to be part of the London 2012 Festival. Throughout the season, there is music to reflect these major events and on the opening night of the Proms, four British conductors take to the Royal Albert Hall stage to ‘pass the baton’: Martyn Brabbins, Sir Mark Elder, Edward Gardner and Sir Roger Norrington.
Daniel Barenboim and his celebrated West–Eastern Divan Orchestra make Proms history by performing all nine Beethoven symphonies - the first time the entire cycle has featured at the Proms in over 60 years – whilst also becoming the Proms’ first ever non-BBC orchestra-in-residence. English National Opera and the Royal Opera House both perform complete operas in the same season for the first time, the São Paulo Symphony Orchestra becomes the first Brazilian orchestra to appear at the festival, and in an exciting collaboration with Aardman Animations, the much-loved Wallace & Gromit characters are transported to the Royal Albert Hall stage where there will be the chance to hear the world premiere of Wallace’s new work, a BBC commission!
From Congolese street musicians to a recreation of Louis XIV’s Baroque orchestra, the season provides a range of diverse musical offerings. A Desert Island Discs Prom celebrates the 70th birthday of the iconic Radio 4 programme, John Wilson and his eponymous orchestra give a complete performance of My Fair Lady as well as a celebratory gala surveying the Broadway musical, and Gilbert & Sullivan’s operetta The Yeomen of the Guard receives its first ever complete Proms performance. The work of Ivor Novello is also placed under the festival’s spotlight for the first time since 1914.
The season celebrates some of the world’s most eminent living composers including Pierre Boulez, whose works appear alongside the West–Eastern Divan Orchestra’s Beethoven symphony cycle. British composers celebrating significant birthdays include Oliver Knussen and Simon Bainbridge at 60, and Hugh Wood and Alexander Goehr at 80. There are also 150th-birthday tributes to Debussy and Delius.
As ever, the Proms remains firmly committed to new music with 17 BBC commissions, the biggest number in recent years, a further five world premieres and 14 other UK and London premieres, including versions of music by Mendelssohn and Gabrieli, previously unheard in the UK. On top of this are 10 short BBC commissions which make up the Music Walk around South Kensington, part of the centenary celebrations of John Cage.
Youth is a major focus of the festival. From 4 – 6 August four youth orchestras from around the UK, as well as the National Youth Choirs of Great Britain and Wales, perform at the Proms. Other UK and international youth ensembles include the Juilliard Orchestra and the Aldeburgh World Orchestra, the later created to bring together the best young performers from around the globe. The BBC Proms Youth Choir gives its inaugural performance, part of an on-going four-year project.
In addition to the six BBC performing groups who once again provide the backbone to the season, there is a stellar line-up of international orchestras including the Berliner Philharmoniker with Sir Simon Rattle and the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra with Bernard Haitink who for the first time give two performances each in one season. The Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra under Riccardo Chailly also gives two concerts.
In a strong year for conductors, several give more than one Prom. Leading the pack is Daniel Barenboim, who conducts all nine Beethoven Symphonies over five Proms with the West–Eastern Divan Orchestra. Sir Mark Elder conducts four performances and Jiří Bělohlávek marks his final year as Chief Conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra by leading it through four Proms, including the Last Night. Martyn Brabbins conducts three Proms, while John Adams leads two performances featuring his own work. Other leading conductors include Marin Alsop, Sir John Eliot Gardiner and Sir Roger Norrington.
In the spirit of the Proms’ enduring mission to make the best classical music available to everyone, every Prom is broadcast live on BBC Radio 3 with many televised on BBC One, BBC Two and BBC Four. For the seventh consecutive year Promming tickets remain just £5 and for the first time this season seats are half-price for under-18s.
Roger Wright, Director BBC Proms and Controller BBC Radio 3, says:
‘From Daniel Barenboim to Wallace & Gromit, we once again look forward to welcoming the world’s greatest artists to a festival where there is something for everyone to enjoy. Promming tickets remain just £5 and there are plenty of ways for people to enjoy the events in person, on radio, television and online. The BBC’s on-going commitment in running the festival, allows the Proms to be one of the best value-for-money experiences anywhere.’