David Pickard says farewell to the BBC Proms with 90 concerts across the UK including Bizet’s Carmen, Julius Eastman’s Symphony No. 2, Suk’s Asrael Symphony and much more

David Pickard says farewell to the BBC Proms with 90 concerts across the UK including Bizet’s Carmen, Julius Eastman’s Symphony No. 2, Suk’s Asrael Symphony and much more

BBC Proms 2024


So, the BBC Proms are on us again. The 2024 festival runs from 19 July to 14 September 2024 with 73 concerts at the Royal Albert Hall and 17 around the UK, with short seasons at Bristol Beacon and The Glasshouse, Gateshead, plus concerts in Nottingham, Newport, Aberdeen and Belfast. This season represents David Pickard’s last as director and Hannah Donat has taken over as Director of Artistic Planning for the BBC Proms. She is former Concerts Director of Britten Sinfonia and has been Artistic
Producer of the Proms for the last seven years, which has seen her bring
orchestras and ensembles to the event and work closely with the BBC’s
Orchestras and Choirs

Visiting ensembles this year include the Berlin Philharmonic and Kirill Petrenko, Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra and Sir Simon Rattle, Czech Philharmonic and Jakub Hrůša, and the West–Eastern Divan Orchestra and Daniel Barenboim. Another visitor on a smaller scale is Sir Andras Schiff who will be playing Bach’s The Art of Fugue.

2024 also sees the 100th anniversary of the founding of the BBC Singers and this year’s programme not only celebrates the ensemble, but the idea of choral music, with the BBC Singers in seven Proms including premiering a work written for them by Eric Whitacre, a three-concert Choral Day reflecting a wide range of styles with professional and amateur choirs including Voices of the River’s Edge, a community youth choir formed by the BBC Proms and the Glasshouse International Centre for Music during lockdown, and London LGBTQ+ chamber choir, the Fourth Choir. Further choral highlights across the summer include performances of Verdi’s Requiem, Britten’s War Requiem and Bach’s St John Passion.

Glyndebourne Opera is bringing its new production of Bizet’s Carmen, with Rihab Chaieb and Evan LeRoy Johnson conducted by Anja Bihmaier, and for the first time Garsington Opera is bringing a production, so we get a chance to hear their new production of Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream with Iestyn Davies and Lucy Crowe, conducted by Douglas Boyd.

This year, 23 premieres and BBC commissions/co-commissions will be performed. Composers Thomas Ades, Anna Clyne, Sarah Class, Francisco Coll, Sarah Gibson, Dani Howard, Sir Karl Jenkins, Cassandra Miller, Ben Nobuto, Laura Poe, Steve Reich, Carlos Simon, Asteryth Sloane, Laura Poe, Elizabeth Kelly and Eric Whitacre each have a premiere or UK premiere. Hans Abrahamsen’s Horn Concerto, Julius Eastman’s Symphony No. 2 and Mary Lou Williams’s Zodiac Suite will be performed in the UK for the first time. Sir Mark Elder marks his retirement from the Hallé with a performance of Sir James MacMillan’s Timotheus, Bacchus and Cecilia. Other music by contemporary composers featured includes Cheryl Frances-Hoad’s Cello Concerto, and pieces by Heiner Goebbels, Missy Mazzoli, Erkki-Sven Tüür.

The First Night includes Clara Schumann’s Piano Concerto, with Isata Kanneh-Mason, and later on Benjamin Grosvenor is the soloist in Busoni’s gargantuan Piano Concerto and there is more Busoni with his Concert Overture. Other unusual works included Zemlinsky’s The Mermaid, Grace William’s Concert Overture, Louise Farrenc’s Overture No. 1 and Symphony No. 3, a work by Samuel Coleridge-Taylor’s daughter Avril, music by Grażyna Bacewicz and Augusta Holmes, Josef Suk’s mammoth Asrael Symphony performed by the Czech Philharmonic, 

Column inches have already been expanded on this year’s collaborations with non-classical performers. Frankly, they make an interesting mix.

  • Florence Welch, of indie-rock band Florence + The Machine, makes her BBC Proms debut, and only UK appearance this year, to perform her lauded BRIT Award-winning 2009 album 
  • Lungs, with Jules Buckley and his orchestra
  • Jordan Rakei makes his BBC Proms debut with Robert Ames and the Royal Northern Sinfonia at the Glasshouse International Centre for Music. Academy Award-winning artist
  • Sam Smith makes their BBC Proms debut at the Royal Albert Hall, their only live UK appearance this year, performing their own music in new orchestral arrangements. 
  • After the success of the 2023 Northern Soul Prom, this year’s opening weekend will feature the first ever Disco Prom, celebrating disco music of the late 1970s during the era of New York’s Studio 54. 
  • Three Proms pay tribute to the work and legacies of iconic musicians:  folk-rock artist Nick Drake, jazz singer Sarah Vaughan and film composer Henry Mancini, each of whom have significant anniversaries this year and whose Proms will feature exciting soloists.
  • Tinariwen performs a Late Night Prom, featuring their pioneering mix of traditional Tuareg and African music with Western rock music

Booking opens on 18 May 2024, full details from the BBC website.  


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