BBC Proms: How to watch the 2020 live performances

The Royal Albert Hall will have a number of performances streamed live from August 28th.

BBC Proms

The BBC Proms are already underway. Since July 17th, archive footage has been aired on BBC Radio 3 and on demand on BBC Sounds, and the live shows will now kick off from August 28th.

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This year celebrates the 125th anniversary of the Proms, which is being celebrated with performances from some of the world’s greatest classical musicians.

David Pickard, Director BBC Proms, said: “These are extraordinary times for our nation and the rest of the world, but they show that we need music and the creative industries more than ever.

“This year it is not going to be the Proms as we know them, but the Proms as we need them. We will provide a stimulating and enriching musical summer for both loyal Proms audiences and people discovering the riches we have to offer for the first time.”

So how can you watch the live Proms? Here’s everything you need to know.

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How to watch the BBC Proms

In the final two weeks of the event, the Royal Albert Hall will have a number of performances streamed live directly to iPlayer and on BBC4, Radio3 and BBC Sounds. The first night of the live Proms will kick off on Friday August 28th. 

Friday 28 August

BBC Two: Sakari Oramo & The BBC Symphony Orchestra: Beethoven: ”Eroica” Symphony; Hannah Kendall: Tuxedo: Vasco de Gama; Eric Whitacre: Sleep; Copland: Quiet City.

Saturday 29 August

BBC iPlayer: Jonathan Scott: Organ arrangements of symphonic classics including works by Rossini, Mascagni and Dukas, plus Saint-Saen’s “Organ” Symphony.

Sunday 30 August

BBC FourSir Simon Rattle conducts London Symphony Orchestra in programme which includes Vaughan William’s Symphony No5.

Monday 31 August

BBC iPlayer: Tribute to Viennese operetta, marking the 150th anniversary of Franz Lehar’s birth.

Tuesday 1 September

BBC iPlayer: Contemporary music from the London Sinfonietta.

Wednesday 2 September

BBC iPlayer: Omer Meir Wellber & BBC Philharmonic: Haydn: philemon und Baucis – overture; Symphony No80; Aziza Sadikova: Marionettes; Britten: Nocturne.

Thursday 3 September

BBC Four: Nicola Benedetti, Alina Ibragimova and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment: showcase of Baroque concertos with works by Vivaldi, Handel and Bach.

Friday 4 September

BBC Four: Sitarist Anoushka Shankar and electronic music composer Gold Panda alongside the strings of the Britten Sinfonia.

Saturday 5 September

BBC iPlayer: Stephen Hough with Thomas Dausgaard and the BBC SSO: Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No2.

Sunday 6 September

BBC Four: Laura Marling and the 12 Ensemble perform works from her own back catalogue.

Monday 7 September

BBC iPlayer: Live performance from Royal Albert Hall on BBC Four.

Tuesday 8 September

BBC iPlayer: Ryan Bancroft and BBC National Orchestra of Wales: Works by John Adams, Barber and Copland; Martinu: Jazz Suite; Gavin Higgins: new work.

Wednesday 9 September

BBC iPlayer: Esa-Pekka Salonen the Philharmonia Orchestra, featuring pianist Benjamin Grosvenor: Ravel: Le tombeau de Couperin; Shostakovich: Piano Concerto No1; Mozart: Symphony No45, “Jupiter”.

Thursday 10 September

BBC Four: The Aurora Orchestra perform Beethoven’s Symphony No7 from memory. Also – Richard Ayres: No52; with introductions from Tom Service and Nicholas Colon.

Friday 11 September

BBC Four: Sheku Kanneh-Mason and Isata Kanneh-Mason: works by Beethoven, Barber, Bridge and Rachmaninov.

Stax Records – 50 years of Soul. Jools Holland tribute to pioneering record label.

Saturday 12 September

BBC One: The Last Night of the Proms, with soprano Golda Schultz and the BBC Symphony Orchestra under conductor Dalia Stasevska.

Will Proms 2020 be the same as previous years?

BBC Proms
BBC Proms 2016
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The event will be slightly different to previous years given there will be no live audiences and no full orchestras.
There has been some controversy around this year’s event, particularly the inclusion of songs Land of Hope and Glory and Rule, Britannia!.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson says he is opposed to the BBC’s decision to play instrumental versions.

“I think it’s time we stopped our cringing embarrassment about our history,” he said.

Media reports have suggested the lyrics are being dropped due to associations with colonialism and slavery, however,  the BBC says the decision was prompted by COVID-19 restrictions.

Fewer performers will be allowed on stage, which makes it harder to perform the songs with a traditional chorus.

The BBC’s director general Tony Hall said he felt the move to include instrumental versions was the right one, saying: “I think they have come to the right conclusion.”

He added: “It’s very, very hard in an Albert Hall that takes over 5,000 people to have the atmosphere of the Last Night of the Proms and to have things where the whole audience normally sing along – it’s quite hard creatively, artistically to make that work.”

The live BBC Prom performances will be streamed on BBC4, Radio3 and BBC Sounds from August 28th. If you’re looking for more to watch, check out our TV Guide.