BBC Proms 2017
20th March 2017
This year John Adams celebrated his seventieth birthday and to mark the occasion the combined forces of the BBC Symphony Chorus and Orchestra and the Proms Youth Choir perform his epic choral work, Harmonium, in the opening Prom. The evening will be conducted by Edward Gardner (Prom 1). On July 17, Proms-favourite Symphony No. 7 by Jean Sibelius opens the concert, the first of many this year on the theme of revolutionary music. Thomas Søndergård conducts the BBC National Orchestra of Wales (Prom 5).
For those who enjoy the music of Brian Elias, 2017 is an exciting year. Following on from the successful tour of a new Oboe Quintet by Brian Elias earlier this month by the Britten Sinfonia, and ahead of The Royal Ballet’s revival of The Judas Tree in October, concert-goers have the opportunity to hear another important world premiere of the Cello Concerto. Written for the former BBC Radio 3 New Generation Artist, Natalie Clein, Elias’ twenty-five-minute concerto explores the lyrical qualities of the cello. The new concerto has been paired with Elgar’s Enigma Variations, and, like the portraits in that iconic work, Elias has written something about Clein into the score for audience members to listen out for. Prom 32, featuring the BBC National Orchestra of Wales conducted by Ryan Wigglesworth, takes place on August 8.
On August 12, the Proms heads over to Southwark Cathedral for a mid-afternoon concert by David Hill, the BBC Singers and the Nash Ensemble. Following a two works by Palestrina, the programme concludes with the world premiere of In the Land of Uz, a thirty-five-minute work for chorus and orchestra from Judith Weir. In the Land of Uz sets text from the Book of Job and is the first commission from the BBC Singers as part of Weir’s position as Artist in Association.
On August 15, the Britten Sinfonia, conducted by Karen Kamensek, will give the first complete live performance of the 1990 studio album, Passages by Ravi Shankar and Philip Glass. This (Prom 41) is the first of two late night proms featuring works by Music Sales composers. Celebrating its 30th birthday this year, the pioneering American artistic collective Bang on a Can All-Stars bring three premieres to the Royal Albert Hall. Sunray by David Lang and Big Beautiful Dark and Scary by Julia Wolfe will receive their London premiere performances while a new BBC commission from Michael Gordon, Big Space, receives its world premiere. The All-Stars will also perform Glassworks by Philip Glass in what will no doubt be a memorable and energetic night (Prom 44). Other premieres include the European premiere of Sinfonia (for Orbiting Spheres) by Missy Mazzoli. Her 2016 work for small orchestra, written for the LA Philharmonic, is a mesmerising piece composed in the shape of a solar system, a collection of rococo loops that twist around each other within a larger orbit. Hear it at Prom 70 on September 5.
There are plenty of other notable concerts containing Music Sales-published symphonic works to look out for. Charles Dutoit and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra take the Royal Albert Hall audience to Spain in their Prom on August 17 (Prom 43). A programme of Lalo and Saint-Saëns is precluded the ballet masterpiece, El Amor Brujo by Manuel de Falla. Candelas, a beautiful young woman, prevented from returning the passionate love of Carmelo, a handsome, gallant man, by the ghost of a faithless wicked gypsy whom she once loved. Carmelo persuades Lucia, a friend of Candelas, to act as decoy and distract the ghost while he convinces Candelas of his true love and they exchange the kiss that breaks the evil spell. The Multi-Story Orchestra will perform Harmonielehre by John Adams (Proms at… Bold Tendencies Multi-Story Car Park, Peckham, August 26); Vasily Petrenko conducts The Firebird Suite (1919) with the Oslo Philharmonic (Prom 60, August 29); the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic and Sakari Oramo perform Knoxville: Summer of 1915, Op 25 by Samuel Barber and Symphony No. 2 by Carl Nielsen (Prom 61, August 30).
If you want to take a break from the big repertoire and enjoy some chamber music, then there is plenty to choose from at Cadogan Hall. German soprano Christiane Karg and pianist Malcolm Martineau take to the stage with a plethora of French song including Étude Latines by Reynaldo Hahn on August 21 (PCM 6). That same night, returning to the Royal Albert Hall are the CBSO, Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla and Leila Josefowicz in Prom 50. Leila, who premiered and toured internationally Esa-Pekka Salonen’s Violin Concerto, takes on the Violin Concerto in D by Igor Stravinsky. More contemporary repertoire is on offer at the world’s oldest concert hall, Wilton’s Music Hall. The Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, under Sian Edwards, perform Le merle noir by Olivier Messiaen and excerpts from songbirdsongs by recent Music Sales signing, John Luther Adams on September 2 (Proms at… Wilton’s Music Hall, 3pm & 7:30pm).
Visit bbc.co.uk/proms to view the full concert listings.
Click on the hyperlinks above to discover more about the composers and works on stage this summer. Looking forward to hearing these works live? We would love to hear from you: follow @msclassical on Twitter and Facebook.