Classical Source welcomes Alan Davey – Controller of BBC Radio 3 – as the guest writer of the July and August editorial…
It’s that time of year again. As I joined the BBC Proms team to visit the Royal Albert Hall and get to know the staff there (eight weeks is a long time to be living together, so saying hello is only polite) I felt a familiar surge of excitement to be back at that venue, anticipating a great summer of music and discovery as so many summers before.
Once again it’s a great season – full of things to discover and things to hear in new ways. For me the emphasis on Sibelius and Nielsen is something special – especially as the season opens with the joyous Overture from the latter’s Maskerade – that we broadcast the whole of recently in Opera on 3. Two little-performed choral works in particular attract – Nielsen’s charming Springtime on Funen and Sibelius’s mighty Kullervo Symphony. But there is so much more – from late-night Bach to a clutch of piano concertos – complete cycles from Beethoven and Prokofiev – the latter in one night and there is also a goodly smattering of Mozart. As well as a lot of new music – from a newly discovered piece of Messiaen, a new Symphony by James Macmillan, to one by Raymond Yiu – and much else. Matinees to attract families, and late-nights for everyone with an open mind for music of all kinds – from Bach (Cello Suites, Violin Sonatas & Partitas, and Goldberg Variations) to the deeply ambient music of Nils Frahm and A Winged Victory for the Sullen. Many special events with a special atmosphere.
The Proms is a great festival that happens in the summer – but it’s a part of what we at BBC Radio 3 and the BBC Performing Groups are engaged with all year round. The Performing Groups have some terrific programmes being played in venues all around the country and abroad – including reaching audiences who might not otherwise be able to hear an orchestra, and also playing innovative programmes that include rare repertoire or new works. And then every night you can hear complete concerts on Radio 3 – bringing some of the world’s finest artists to your home, in beautifully engineered sound, and in HD sound if you listen online. Bringing music that is well-loved, new, or neglected but worthy of reappraisal, is something we do every day – it’s what we do.
So it’s natural that we will be bringing you every Prom live so that if you cannot get to the Royal Albert or Cadogan Halls you’ll be able to experience the thrills and discovery in the comfort of your own home. This year, if you have the right equipment, you’ll also be able to receive the concerts from the Albert Hall in Surround Sound.
So enjoy the musical feast that is the Proms – either in person, live on Radio 3, on demand for 30 days, or in carefully curated episodes on TV. But always remember Radio 3 and the BBC Performing Groups are doing this all year round. It’s what makes us a great cultural institution – one that is funded in a unique way by the licence fee, one that I am proud to lead, and one that none of us should take for granted.
For The Classical Source
July & August 2015
As for numerous previous seasons, Classical Source plans to review every concert of this year’s BBC Proms