News: The BBC Proms Launches 2023 Programme7 min read
The BBC Proms 2023 launches with a programme bursting with opera, oratorio and large-scale choral work and the first ever weekend-long Proms festival rooted in the North-East at Sage Gateshead.
A complete performance of Berlioz’s five-act grand opera The Trojans – the first in the UK for more than 10 years – will be performed by the Monteverdi Choir and the Orchestra Révolutionnaire et Romantique under Sir John Eliot Gardiner in his 80th-birthday year. And György Kurtág’s highly anticipated first opera gets its UK premiere at the Proms: an operatic version of Samuel Beckett’s play Endgame, performed by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra under Ryan Wigglesworth.
Further choral, opera and oratorio highlights across the season include Glyndebourne Festival Opera’s production of Poulenc’s Dialogues des Carmélites; Handel’s Samson with the Academy of Ancient Music and an all-star cast led by Allan Clayton; Mendelssohn’s Elijah performed by the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and Scottish Chamber Chorus led by Maxim Emelyanychev; Walton’s Belshazzar’s Feast performed by baritone Thomas Hampson, the BBC Symphony Chorus and the BBC Symphony Orchestra under Klaus Mäkelä; and Schumann’s Das Paradies und die Peri performed by the London Symphony Orchestra and Chorus led by Sir Simon Rattle. Rachmaninov’s The Bells, a Proms favourite, inspired by Edgar Allan Poe’s poem and thought to be Rachmaninov’s favourite of his own works, will ring out loud and clear, performed by the BBC Symphony Chorus, the Hallé and the Hallé Choir under Sir Mark Elder.
The BBC Orchestras and Choirs perform in 32 Proms, including 14 premieres. The BBC Singers will perform at First Night, Last Night, concerts with Sir Simon Rattle and Jon Hopkins and in their own Late Night Prom showcasing their huge range of repertoire. The BBC’s own orchestras perform alongside a roster of star soloists including Yuja Wang, Sheku Kanneh-Mason and Lise Davidsen.
The season will see more international orchestras return to the Royall Albert Hall, including the Budapest Festival Orchestra under Iván Fischer, with their much-loved ‘audience choice’ programme, in which the audience chooses and votes live from a list of 250 dances, overtures, marches and symphonic movements. The Boston Symphony Orchestra under Andris Nelsons perform two Proms featuring two European premieres: Carlos Simon’s Four Black American Dances and Julia Adolphe’s Makeshift Castle. Augustin Hadelich performs with the Tonhalle Orchestra Zürich led by Paavo Järvi, Kirill Gerstein performs with the 100-year-old Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra led by Vladimir Jurowski, Pekka Kuusisto performs with Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen and Raphaël Pichon conducts Mozart’s Requiem with Pygmalion.
The Proms continues its exploration of orchestral collaborations with non-classical artists. Rufus Wainwright performs the world premiere of Want Symphonic (his orchestral adaptation of his studio albums Want One and Want Two) and special guests join Jules Buckley, who returns with the Jules Buckley Orchestra, following their spectacular debut last year. Jon Hopkins makes his Proms debut with a 22-minute psychedelic drone epic for orchestra, choir and piano, alongside reinterpretation of pieces from his critically acclaimed albums.
New musical genres are featured at the Proms for the first time. Marking the 50th anniversary of the world-famous Wigan Casino, which helped make Northern Soul nights in the north of England a global phenomenon, Keep the Faith: Northern Soul, in partnership with BBC Radio 6 Music, marries the underground British club culture of the 1960s and 1970s with the symphonic edge of the BBC Concert Orchestra, under Edwin Outwater. Fado is also featured at the Proms for the first time in a concert featuring award-winning Portuguese singer Mariza. A Bollywood Prom, Lata Mangashkar: Bollywood Legend, in partnership with BBC Asian Network, pays tribute to the late playback singer, featuring Indian star singer Palak Muchhal with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra under Michael Seal.
Alongside the broadening of its musical offering, the Proms continues to increase its geographical reach. A weekend of six Proms at Sage Gateshead is launched with a special collaboration between the Royal Northern Sinfonia and Robert Ames. The weekend opens with singer-songwriter Self Esteem and then includes performances of jazz, African American spiritual, choral music and more. Across the UK, the ‘Proms at’ chamber concerts take place at Aberystwyth, Derry, Dewsbury, Perth and Truro, and the BBC Concert Orchestra presents a concert at the unique Hippodrome in Great Yarmouth as part of their ongoing residency.
The season culminates in the Last Night of the Proms with the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Chorus and BBC Singers. This year’s festival finale is led by Marin Alsop, who is joined by Sheku Kanneh-Mason and Lise Davidsen. Alongside traditional Last Night of the Proms favourites, audiences can enjoy the world premiere of 1922, a celebration of the BBC’s centenary from fast-rising British composer James B. Wilson.
David Pickard, Director, BBC Proms says: “There is no other classical music festival in the world to match the range and breadth of the BBC Proms. It is the place where so many discover orchestral music for the first time – whether through a cornerstone of the classical repertoire, ground-breaking new work or collaborations with some of today’s most exciting artists. Our musical range in 2023 extends from Bach to Bollywood and geographically from Gateshead to Great Yarmouth as we continue to build on Henry Wood’s vision of ‘the best of classical music for the widest possible audience.”
A key mission for the Proms is to bring classical music to the widest possible audience through a variety of different concert formats. The ever-innovative Aurora Orchestra presents a dramatisation of the origins of Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring, followed by a performance of the work, entirely from memory. The team behind the hugely successful Horrible Histories present ’Orrible Opera, an irreverent introduction to opera featuring the Orchestra and Chorus of English National Opera. The weekend festival at Sage Gateshead closes with CBeebies: Ocean Adventure, featuring the Royal Northern Sinfonia conducted by Kwamé Ryan. At the Royal Albert Hall, a relaxed performance of the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra Prom with Felix Klieser will include British Sign Language and onstage presentation.
Throughout its 128-year history, the Proms has been at the forefront of musical innovation. This year, the festival will premiere 23 new works, 15 of which have been commissioned or co-commissioned by the BBC. New music highlights include the world premiere of Begin Afresh from Master of the King’s Music Judith Weir. Kirill Karabits conducts the UK premiere of his father Ivan Karabits’s Concerto for Orchestra No. 1, ‘A Musical Gift to Kyiv’, and Ryan Wigglesworth conducts the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and the BBC Symphony Chorus for the UK premiere of Helen Grime’s Meditations on Joy.
The 2023 Proms marks the 150th anniversary of Rachmaninov’s birth. Eleven of his works will be performed during the season, including the popular favourite Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini performed by Yuja Wang, the Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor performed by Benjamin Grosvenor, and Rachmaninov’s own rumoured personal favourite, The Bells. This year also marks 100 years since the death of Dora Pejačević, the first prominent female Croatian composer, with performances of her works including the Symphony in F sharp minor and her Cello Sonata. And we reflect 100 years since the birth of György Ligeti, one of the boldest voices of the 20th century, whose ear-bending sounds brought wit as well as invention to the concert hall. Performances of his works include Concert Românesc, Violin Concerto, Lontano, Mysteries of the Macabre and choral works Nonsense Madrigals, Requiem and Lux aeterna. William Byrd and Thomas Weelkes, leading figures of the Renaissance English choral tradition, both died 400 years ago. Performances of their works include secular and sacred works by Byrd sung by Stile Antico and a selection of Weelkes’s madrigals with The Gesualdo Six. Samuel Coleridge Taylor is also celebrated throughout the season, with a particularly exciting concert from Chineke! Orchestra under Anthony Parnther and featuring solo trumpeter Aaron Azunda Akugbo.
Sam Jackson, Controller, BBC Radio 3 says: “I’m greatly looking forward to my first Proms season as Controller, with such an ambitious and diverse series of concerts on offer – at the Royal Albert Hall, and across the UK. And I’m delighted that, for the first time, most Proms will be available on BBC Sounds for a year, extending the national and international reach of the world’s biggest and longest-running classical music festival.”
General booking opens at 9am on Saturday 13 May: www.bbc.co.uk/proms
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