Rufus Wainwright, War Horse, Paloma Faith and Pet Shop Boys are some of the surprise names headlining at this year’s BBC Proms.
The full line-up for the BBC Proms 2014 has just been announced. Across 92 concerts, the 120th season promises “the biggest-ever celebration of global classical music” – and more than a side-order of other music genres to salivate over.
The two-month-long season will run from Friday 18 July to Saturday 13 September at the Royal Albert Hall and Cadogan Hall in London, with coverage across BBC TV, radio and online.
This year sees welcome returns for Daniel Barenboim conducting his hugely popular West–Eastern Divan Orchestra for a Spanish-flavoured evening (20 August), and Simon Rattle, conducting the Berlin Philharmonic in an all-Russian programme (5 Sept) and Bach’s St Matthew Passion (6 Sept).
Indeed, in a major logistical feat for the BBC Proms team, more international orchestras will be jetting into London than ever before – from China, Greece, Iceland, South Korea, Turkey, even Lapland and Qatar.
Closer to home, on the First Night (18 July), Britain’s Andrew Davis will conduct the BBC’s Symphony Orchestra, Symphony Chorus and National Chorus of Wales in Elgar’s biblical oratorio The Kingdom. Davis turns 70 this year – and my, how the BBC Proms loves to flag up Big Round Figures! Fellow Brits Donald Runnicles (60), Roger Norrington (80) and Neville Marriner (90) will also take to the podium this summer.
Both 80 this year, British composers Harrison Birtwistle and Peter Maxwell Davies will have works performed, while the 150th anniversary of the birth of Richard Strauss is celebrated with three operas: Der Rosenkavalier (22 July), Salome (30 August) and Elektra (31 August).
If you’re seeking a different vibe, the 2014 season features a BBC Sport Prom hosted by Gabby Logan (20 July), two CBeebies Proms (26 & 27 July), while Clare Teal takes us back to the golden age of jazz with a re-creation of Count Basie and Duke Ellington’s Battle of the Bands (8 August).
Among the hottest tickets will be the Late Night Proms featuring Laura Mvula (19 August), Paloma Faith (5 September), Rufus Wainwright (11 September) and Pet Shop Boys. On 23 July, they’re premiering a brand-new work, A Man from the Future, honouring the life and work of wartime code-breaker Alan Turing.
There’ll also be a scrum for Kiss Me, Kate (2 August), the now-annual Proms gig for John Wilson and his Orchestra, as well as the War Horse Prom (3 August). Those extraordinary puppets from the National Theatre production will feature in a special concert performed by the Proms Military Wives Choir, directed by the irrepressible Gareth Malone.
The Great War centenary is perhaps the most important strand this year, showcasing works by composers who died in the trenches, as well as Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem, based on Wilfred Owen’s poetry (21 August), and Sally Beamish’s violin concerto inspired by All Quiet on the Western Front (1 August).
There’s also a sweet find – a long-forgotten war hymn, written by Proms founder Henry Wood in response to the outbreak of the First World War, will have a modern-day premiere.
HOW TO ACCESS THE PROMS
If you can’t make it to the Royal Albert Hall – or face the scrum for tickets and heat of the auditorium – every concert can be heard live on BBC Radio 3 and in HD sound on bbc.co.uk/radio3. They’ll also be available to “listen again” for seven days after broadcast at bbc.co.uk/proms.
Roger Wright, who’s leaving the joint post of Proms director and controller of Radio 3 after 15 years, says that the Proms’ “enduring mission to create the widest access to classical music is helped enormously by the growth of technology”. Thus, in 2014, they can also be accessed via a dedicated Proms button on the BBC iPlayer Radio app.
Selected concerts will air across most other BBC TV and radio stations, with Katie Derham returning to BBC2 for a second year of her weekly digest, Proms Extra, on Saturday nights.
Patrick first joined Radio Times as a teenager in the black-and-white days of 1984. A career in journalism led to ES Magazine, Time Out, rival TV guides and Doctor Who Magazine. The Tardis returned him to RT in 2005, since when he’s been reviewing Nordic noir and Sicilian vice, saucy sitcoms, the BBC Proms and the further adventures of the Time Lord. He lives in the Smoke but prefers a sea breeze.