This year’s BBC Proms season has now been announced, and there’s a veritable feast of contemporay music on offer this year.
The season kicks off with a première from Julian Anderson, Harmony, at the First Night. Prom 5 sees the Arditti Quartet (visitors to Sounds New last year) in Helmut Lachenmann’s Tanzsuite mit Deutschlandlied.
Previously unheard at the Proms, the blistered, metallic timbres and subtle textures of Lachenmann’s ‘musique concrète instrumentale’ unsettle and transfix, creating an abrasive yet alluring sound-world ideally suited to the Ardittis and the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra. (Prom webpage)
Later, Prom 8 sees Thomas Adès conducting the première of his Totentanz, written in memory of Lutoslawski, in a programme featuring the latter’s Cello Concerto.
The second Saturday Matinee sees Britten‘s Phaedra alongside Tippett‘s ebullient Fantasia Concertante on a Theme of Corelli.
The Proms Chamber Music series also features new music; trumpeter Tine Thing Helseth plays music by Diana Burrell in Proms Chamber Music Four, the première of Blaze, together with Piazzolla‘s short Oblivion; Proms Chamber Music 5 brings the UK première of Sir Harrison Birstwistle‘s The Moth Requiem.
A visitor to Sounds New last year, composer and pianist John McCabe‘s Joybox is premièred at Prom 17.
High on the list of prospective favourites comes Prom 25, in which Nicholas Collon and the Aurora Orchestra bring music by Frank Zappa, Conlon Nancarrow and the UK première of Philip Glass‘ Symphony no.10.
Possible top: Prom 28 with Oliver Knussen and the BBC Symphony Orchestra in Tippett‘s Symphony no.2, alongside Stravinsky‘s Concerto for piano and winds and music by the late Hans Werner Henze.
There’s Eastern promise in Prom 39, with the intriguing prospect of sitar-player Nishat Khan‘s The Gate of the Moon (Sitar Concerto No. 1), with composer as soloist.
There’s an all-Russian affair in Prom 41, with Gergiev conducting the UK première of Sophia Gubaidulina‘s The Rider on the White Horse, in a programme including the enduring crowd-pleaser, Pictures at an Exhibition.
Penderecki‘s homage to the Baroque, the Concerto grosso, appears in Prom 44, whilst Matthias Pintscher is both composer and conductor, at the helm of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, in the London première of his Chute d’étoiles in Prom 48.
Midori plays Peter Eotvos‘ DoReMi in Prom 63. The usually-prevalent Arvo Pärt is represented in a single Prom this year, Prom 67 with his Cantus in memoriam Benjamin Britten. Prom 71 features Gorecki’s popular Symphony of Sorrowful Songs.
Mark-Anthony Turnage who wrong-footed many with his Hammered Out homage to Beyoncé at last year’s Proms is welcomed back in Prom 38 with the world première of Frieze in the first-ever free evening Prom, in a canny piece of programming alongside Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony.
There are too many Proms featuring music by Lutoslawski to go through here, but here’s the page detailing all of them.
Stand-out Prom (for me, at least) must surely be the late-night Prom 11, given over to Karlheinz Stockhausen, with his Gesang der Jünglinge and ‘Welt-Parlament’ from Mittwoch aus Licht.
Visit the guide and explore for yourself, including some of the other pieces coming to the Albert Hall this summer. Last year, there was a handy ‘contemporary music’ tab for users on the Proms website: alas, there isn’t one this year, but we hope this will guide you in its place. Hopefully, it’ll be back next year ?
This summer, there’s only one place to be – well, three, if you count broadcasts on Radio 3 and BBC television…