From Bernstein to Benedetti, Haitink to Hvorostovsky, Mackerras to Kanneh-Masons
Musical greats, from the past and the present, brought together in one extraordinary Proms season
17 July – 12 September 2020
Update 2 September – The pandemic means a different Proms this year and one of the consequences, under COVID-19 restrictions, is we are not able to bring together massed voices. For that reason we took the artistic decision not to sing ‘Rule, Britannia!’ and ‘Land of Hope and Glory’ in the Hall.
We have been looking hard at what else might be possible and we have a solution. Both pieces will now include a select group of BBC Singers. This means the words will be sung in the Hall, and as we have always made clear, audiences will be free to sing along at home. While it can’t be a full choir, and we are unable to have audiences in the Hall, we are doing everything possible to make it special and want a Last Night truly to remember.
We hope everyone will welcome this solution. We think the night itself will be a very special moment for the country – and one that is much needed after a difficult period for everyone. It will not be a usual Last Night, but it will be a night not just to look forward to, but to remember.
More details of live programme revealed
- Singer-songwriter Laura Marling joins the live line-up of Proms this summer
- Pianist Benjamin Grosvenor performs with the Philharmonia Orchestra and Esa-Pekka Salonen
- For the first time ever, all live Proms performances will be visualised and available to watch on BBC TV or live streamed on BBC iPlayer
- BBC Four to air much-loved Late Night Proms, including 2015’s Radio 1Xtra Prom featuring Stormzy and 2017’s tribute to soul label Stax
- BBC Radio 1Xtra, Radio 2 and 6 Music to broadcast Proms
- A collection of Proms is made available on BBC iPlayer – from Alina Ibragimova performing solo Bach to the Doctor Who Prom
The BBC Proms are delighted to announce award-winning British singer-songwriter Laura Marling will be part of the live Proms this summer. Marling will be performing songs from her recently acclaimed, Mercury-nominated album Song for Our Daughter, as well as selected songs from her previous albums, in brand-new string arrangements by American multi-instrumentalist, arranger and producer Rob Moose. Laura will perform live at the Royal Albert Hall with pioneering string group 12 Ensemble, who have collaborated with everyone from The National to Max Richter on Sunday 6 September, broadcast live on BBC Radio 3 and BBC Four, and recorded for future broadcast on BBC Radio 6 Music.
Further artists announced today include British pianist Benjamin Grosvenor appearing with the Philharmonia Orchestra and conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen (Wednesday 9 September), organist Jonathan Scott who brings the colossal sound of the Royal Albert Hall’s organ back to the Hall in a recital of popular classical works (Saturday 29 August) and a programme of contemporary classical works performed by the London Sinfonietta to be announced (Tuesday 1 September).
The full line-up includes previously announced stars such as Nicola Benedetti, Stephen Hough, Sheku Kanneh-Mason, Sir Simon Rattle, Anoushka Shankar and Mitsuko Uchida.
The BBC Singers will also make a special appearance at the First Night of the live Proms, joining the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Sakari Oramo on Friday 28 August. The BBC National Orchestra of Wales with Chief Conductor Ryan Bancroft, BBC Philharmonic with Chief Conductor Omer Meir Wellber and BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra with Chief Conductor Thomas Dausgaard join the Proms from their homes in Cardiff, Manchester and Glasgow, representing the cities in which they are based, in this summer’s Proms. The Proms outside London will all be streamed to BBC iPlayer.
The two weeks of live Proms include seven new commissions highlighting the Proms’ commitment to contemporary music. The opening night sees a new work by Hannah Kendall whilst Aziza Sadikova, Jay Capperauld and Gavin Higgins all have world premieres, in addition to the three commissions already announced by Thomas Adès, Andrea Tarrodi and Richard Ayres.
Whilst there will not be an audience at the Royal Albert Hall, every live Prom will be broadcast on BBC Radio 3 and for the first time ever, all live Proms performances will be visualised and available to watch via BBC Four (Thursday, Friday, Sunday) or live streamed on BBC iPlayer (Saturday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday).
For the full BBC Proms details please click here
Last Night of the Proms UPDATE (24.8.2020): In light of the recent speculation about the Last Night of the Proms, the programme for the concert has been announced. The BBC very much regret the unjustified personal attacks on Dalia Stasevska, BBC Symphony Orchestra Principal Guest Conductor made on social media and elsewhere. As ever, decisions about the Proms are made by the BBC, in consultation with all artists involved.
The Proms will reinvent the Last Night in this extraordinary year so that it respects the traditions and spirit of the event whilst adapting to very different circumstances at this moment in time. With much reduced musical forces and no live audience, the Proms will curate a concert that includes familiar, patriotic elements such as ‘Jerusalem’ and the National Anthem, and bring in new moments capturing the mood of this unique time, including ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’, presenting a poignant and inclusive event for 2020.
The programme will include a new arrangement by Errollyn Wallen of Hubert Parry’s ‘Jerusalem’ alongside new orchestral versions of Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1 ‘Land of Hope and Glory’ (arr. Anne Dudley) and ‘Rule Britannia!’ as part of the Sea Songs, as Henry Wood did in 1905.
The Proms is delighted to announce that violinist Lisa Batiashvili will be joining soprano Golda Schultz, conductor Dalia Stasevska and the BBC Symphony Orchestra for the Last Night performing favourite works from the repertoire including Vaughan Williams’s The Lark Ascending.
Previous News – In the year that the Proms turns 125 years old, the 2020 season brings the spirit of the Proms to music-lovers at home. BBC Radio 3 and BBC Four broadcasts treasures from the past 30 years of the Proms across six weeks, before two weeks of incredible live performances at the Royal Albert Hall.
In challenging times, the BBC Proms aims to shine a beacon of hope with its mix of seminal moments from Proms history alongside live performances from the Royal Albert Hall. The season will bring a summer of music to celebrate a wealth of talent, genres and styles, creating a line-up which brings together legendary performers from the past through its unrivalled archive, with a diverse line-up of the biggest stars of the present and future.
The Proms Opening Weekend
BBC Radio 3 kicks off this special season with the debut performance by the BBC Grand Virtual Orchestra, comprising over 350 musicians from the BBC Orchestras and Choirs. Joining Beethoven Unleashed – a year-long, BBC-wide marathon marking the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth, the Grand Virtual Orchestra will perform a completely original arrangement of Beethoven’s nine symphonies, created by Iain Farrington. On Sunday 19 July the premiere of the film accompanying the piece will air on BBC Four. Farrington describes the work as “taking Beethoven’s music and putting it in a musical washing machine to see which colours run”.
Following Farrington’s curtain-raiser, the First Night continues [on Radio 3] with highlights from three Proms across the past 25 years. The BBC Symphony Orchestra features both in Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3 (with soloist Igor Levit, under Edward Gardner) from 2017’s First Night, and in the world premiere of Sir Harrison Birtwistle’s Panic which won instant notoriety at the Last Night of the 100th-anniversary Proms season (1995). The evening closes with celebrated Italian conductor Claudio Abbado’s final Proms performance (2007), leading the Lucerne Festival Orchestra and mezzo-soprano Anna Larsson in Mahler’s Third Symphony.
The Opening Weekend continues on BBC Four on Sunday 19 July, when audiences will have the opportunity to watch electrifying conductor Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla lead the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra in a programme of Beethoven, Stravinsky and Gerald Barry with violinist Leila Josefowicz and tenor Allan Clayton (2017).
Delving into the rich Proms archive
In the 125th-anniversary year of the Proms, audiences have the chance to reflect back on some of the outstanding performances and biggest moments in Proms history with a fantasy season celebrating the greats of the past and providing a snapshot of the ever-changing classical music scene of our times.
BBC Four, fronted by Katie Derham, will broadcast BBC Proms Classics, a range of blockbuster archive concerts each Sunday throughout the festival, presenting the breath-taking scale of orchestral power showcased on the Royal Albert Hall stage. The TV offering reflects innovative highlights such as the 2017 debut of Chineke! Orchestra, Europe’s first majority BME orchestra and the now-legendary 2007 Proms debut of the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela conducted by Gustavo Dudamel. BBC Four will also air the ground-breaking 2012 John Wilson Orchestra Prom that celebrated ‘The Broadway Sound’ sending the orchestra to new heights.
Across the season, Radio 3 has curated a vast array of show-stopping archive performances covering four decades of unforgettable musical stories. Across six weeks there will be a wealth of big-name orchestras and conductors, including: Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra / Leonard Bernstein; Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra / Riccardo Chailly; Staatskapelle Berlin / Daniel Barenboim; Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra / Mariss Jansons; Chicago Symphony Orchestra / Bernard Haitink; Boston Symphony Orchestra / Andris Nelsons; Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra / Sir Simon Rattle; and soloists: Martha Argerich, Alfred Brendel, Dame Sarah Connolly, Renée Fleming, Maria Friedman, Dimitri Hvorostovsky, Janine Jansen, Evgeny Kissin, Jessye Norman, Murray Perahia, and Andreas Scholl.
As always the season celebrates the many faces of classical music, with repertoire ranging from Beethoven to Anna Meredith, Varèse to Mozart, Sally Beamish to Britten, Bach to Thomas Adès. It also presents the many talents that have made waves in an ever-changing scene. Amongst the treasure trove of performances on offer, Radio 3 will broadcast the 2015 Proms debut of composer and keyboard wizard Nils Frahm with ambient duo A Winged Victory for the Sullen; and the 2014 appearance of Jules Buckley conducting the Metropole Orkest with special-guest singers and composing sensations Laura Mvula and Esperanza Spalding.
The Afternoon Concert series on BBC Radio 3 will also feature some of the greatest Proms of the past 25 years given by the BBC Orchestras and Choirs.
This year also sees the first ever TV broadcast of the hugely popular Radio 1 Ibiza Prom from 2015, featuring Pete Tong, Jules Buckley and the Heritage Orchestra, who transformed dance classics into orchestral masterpieces with the help of John Newman and Ella Eyre (BBC Four, Friday 28 August).
On BBC Radio 3, presenter Georgia Mann will host a new Sunday-evening programme that looks ahead to each week’s array of archive Proms. She’ll be joined by a selection of guests to preview the vintage performances, to recall behind-the-scenes stories of the concerts and to recommend highlights to look out for.
Radio 3 will also be broadcasting some of the most stimulating pre-Prom public events that have been held over the past decade, with great interviews and conversation from leading musicians, artists, actors and writers.
Live performances from the Royal Albert Hall
In the final two weeks of the Proms, from Friday 28 August, there will be a series of live performances from the Royal Albert Hall from some of the greatest musicians of our time alongside emerging talent. In what promises to be an emotional return to the Royal Albert Hall, the Proms presents a range of performances fulfilling our founding to mission to present ‘the best of classical music for the widest possible audience’
As the beating heart of the Proms, each of the BBC Orchestras will perform as part of the live element of the festival, and in long-standing Proms tradition, the BBC Symphony Orchestra will open and close the series, beginning with an opening night conducted by Chief Conductor, Sakari Oramo and culminating in a Last Night of the Proms to bring the nation together. Led by the BBC SO’s Principal Guest Conductor, Dalia Stasevska, the 2020 Last Night of the Proms features soprano Golda Schultz, in what promises to be a unique and poignant occasion.
Celebrating a wide range of musicians and music the line-up includes pianist Mitsuko Uchida with the London Symphony Orchestra and Sir Simon Rattle, violinists Nicola Benedetti and Alina Ibragimova with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment under Jonathan Cohen, a recital from cello sensation Sheku Kanneh-Mason and his pianist sister Isata Kanneh-Mason, Aurora Orchestra led by Nicholas Collon, performances from pianist Stephen Hough, singers Sophie Bevan, Allan Clayton and Robert Murray and sitar virtuoso Anoushka Shankar with electronic artist Gold Panda and the Britten Sinfonia under Jules Buckley.
New Music is central to the Proms and a number of composers will be commissioned to write works that respond to the current world-wide situation caused by Covid-19. Composers include Thomas Adès writing a new piece for the LSO Prom and Andrea Tarrodi for the Last Night of the Proms. Alongside these works Richard Ayres explores Beethoven’s journey into deafness, as well as his own hearing loss, with a very personal new work performed by Aurora Orchestra.
The presenting team for the live TV performances includes Katie Derham, along with Tom Service, Suzy Klein, Danielle de Niese and Josie d’Arby.
Whilst it’s unlikely there will be an audience at the Royal Albert Hall, the live performances will be broadcast on BBC Radio 3, BBC Four and iPlayer.
The full schedule of artists and programmes will be announced nearer the time of the performances to allow for utmost flexibility in responding to the safety guidelines at the time.
A Digital Summer
Audiences are always at the heart of the Proms, but this year is truly the People’s Proms. By utilising the many BBC platforms, this summer will provide equally meaningful journeys for the most loyal of Proms audiences and for those discovering the delights on offer for the very first time.
Everyday throughout the season, Radio 3’s Breakfast will invite audiences to share their favourite Proms memories to be reflected on air each morning. In a time of isolation for so many of us, the BBC Proms aims to unite the nation with music. We’ll be ‘cracking open’ the Proms Time Capsule, remembering some of the best moments of the past 125 years and inviting everyone to join the conversation on social media – hearing from audiences about their favourite Proms memories. Audiences will be able to enjoy shared moments through watching and listening parties hosted by BBC Proms on social-media platforms.
Whilst Proms are normally available on BBC catch-up services for 30 days after broadcast, this year the season will remain online on both BBC Sounds and BBC iPlayer for 30 days after the Last Night on the 12 September.
BBC Sounds will also release themed and mood-led Proms mixes which will be updated throughout the season.
There will be a special collection of past Proms on BBC iPlayer for audiences to enjoy, as well as performances live from the Royal Albert Hall streamed directly to iPlayer.
Proms at Home for Families
After the success of this year’s highly popular BBC Ten Pieces at Home initiative, this season families will be able to experience Proms at Home. Families will be able to take part in special free activities built around selected Prom broadcasts, and are encouraged to upload their creative results to be featured on the Proms website. The activities have been created in partnership with organisations around the UK that work to change lives and bring music and the arts to children and young adults, including The Irene Taylor Trust, Heart n Soul, Handprint, Mousetrap and Literacy Pirates.
As part of a wider offering for young people, the deadline for the BBC Young Composer competition for 12- to 18-year olds has also been extended until 20 July and young composers can take part in our 30 Second Challenge until 31 August. Winners of the BBC Young Composer competition, which encourages students of all technical abilities, backgrounds and musical influences to get creative and submit an original composition, will participate in a tailored development programme, and will work with a mentor composer on a project with the BBC Concert Orchestra which will be performed and broadcast as part of the 2021 BBC Proms.
David Pickard, Director BBC Proms, said:
‘The 2020 Proms will be a season unlike any other in its 125-year history. Music can be a powerful friend in difficult times and Sir Henry Wood’s mission – to bring the best of classical music to the widest possible audience, ‘making its beneficent effect universal’– is more important now than it has ever been. Over the eight-week season we are proud to celebrate the BBC’s 93-year guardianship of the festival as well as its continued support for live music. The riches to be found in the archive of the past four decades – including legendary concerts with some of the greatest names in classical music – bear witness to the international standing of the Proms, while two weeks of live performances in the Royal Albert Hall will celebrate the beating heart of music today.’
Alan Davey, BBC Radio 3 and Classical Music Controller, said:
‘The 2020 Proms are a timeless mix of conductors, artists and great performances from across many eras as well as two weeks of memorable new performances. As an audience member, at these Proms, whether vintage or new, you know you will have the best seats in the house for experiencing them on air and online. Savour the atmosphere of the past and the newly forged – and I hope electric – atmosphere of the present, with the one constant being the magnificent Albert Hall and the great music that happens and has happened there. Throw yourself into this year’s Proms – without limits – and see where great music can take you.’
Jan Younghusband, Head of Music TV Commissioning, said:
‘It has never been more important for us to deliver great classical performance for our audiences and also support musicians to work in these incredibly difficult times. Working within the confines of what we can do, we really hope the Proms on TV this year will deliver from the archive some of the iconic orchestral concerts of recent years. And the live concerts in August at the Royal Albert Hall will, we hope, be a positive start to being able to do more in the future.’
All of us at the BBC Proms stand with music-lovers everywhere and musicians around the world affected by COVID-19.