BBC Proms 2016, July 15-September 10
Classical Source welcomes David Pickard – Director of the BBC Proms – as the guest writer of the July and August editorial…
My relationship with the Proms began over forty years ago. I first ‘prommed’ as a teenager – one memory that stands out is listening to Clifford Curzon play Mozart’s final Piano Concerto whilst lying on the floor in the Gallery – and then went on to have the opportunity to be involved in the festival during my career, first as Chief Executive of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and then as General Director of Glyndebourne. Now, as Director of the Proms, I’ve been given the wonderful opportunity to run the festival and I’m delighted to have the chance to build on its 121-year legacy. It was founded to bring the best of classical music to the widest possible audience and I’ll be endeavouring to develop and reinterpret this mission, as my predecessors have done, for the present day.
Eight weeks of world-class music-making featuring leading orchestras, conductors and soloists from the UK and around the world, the 2016 Proms will I hope take our audiences on some unforgettable musical journeys. This year we introduce the “Proms at...” series, a chance to explore spaces outside our regular homes at the Royal Albert Hall and Cadogan Hall. Matching music to four venues across London, the series will feature Shakespeare-inspired works at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse at Shakespeare’s Globe in Southwark, Rossini at The Chapel, Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich, the music of Steve Reich at the Bold Tendencies multi-storey car park in Peckham, and the return of the Proms to the Roundhouse in Camden with a new work by British composer David Sawer.
We put the cello under the spotlight with ten Concerto performances across the season ranging from Elgar’s Cello Concerto with Argentinean cellist Sol Gabetta on the First Night to the world premiere of Huw Watkins’s Cello Concerto performed by his brother Paul, and Steven Isserlis performing in the UK premiere of the version with orchestra of Thomas Ades’s Lieux retrouves. Tying in with our focus on the cello, we have also teamed up with 59 Productions to create a special film with Gabetta using cutting-edge technology including infra-red cameras to project images to her cello’s surface whilst performing an extract from the Elgar.
In the year of the Rio Olympics we'll host a carnival of music from South America including two Proms in one night from Marin Alsop featuring the music of Marlos Nobre and Villa-Lobos, Venezuelan pianist Gabriela Montero, and a Late-Night celebration of Brazilian popular music with the São Paulo Jazz Symphony Orchestra and string players from the São Paulo Symphony Orchestra which is set to get us dancing in the aisles. Martha Argerich also returns to the Proms, with Daniel Barenboim and his West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, in a performance that will mark fifty years since her first appearance at the festival.
In addition to reflections of the 400th-anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death and some special birthdays this year including Colin Matthews’s 70th and Anthony Payne’s 80th, we also look to a new generation of talent. I want young musicians and young audiences to be at the heart of the Proms and so we make youth a central focus both on and off the stage this summer with a range of opportunities for talented musicians to perform as well as concerts and workshops for young people who may have never been to a classical music event before.
It’s set to be a great summer of music-making and I do hope you’ll be able to join us, whether in person, on TV, Radio or Online.
For The Classical Source
July & August 2016
As for numerous previous seasons, Classical Source plans to review every concert of this year’s BBC Proms