The 2017 BBC Proms season has just been announced. The 75-concert series, based in London's Royal Albert Hall, will open with a weekend which sees Gramophone’s Recording of the Year Award-winner Igor Levit playing Beethoven’s Third Piano Concerto on Friday July 14, followed by Daniel Barenboim conducting Elgar’s First and Second Symphonies with his Staatskapelle Berlin on the Saturday and Sunday.
Key themes throughout the season include marking several significant political anniversaries, including the centenary of the Russian Revolution, the 500th anniversary of the start of the Protestant Reformation and 70 years since partition and independence on the Indian subcontinent. Musical anniversaries range from 450 years since the birth of Monteverdi, to a celebration of the life and legacy of Proms conductor Sir Malcolm Sargent to mark the 50th anniversary of his death, conducted by Sir Andrew Davis. The 70th birthday of John Adams and the 80th of Philip Glass will also receive well-deserved acknowledgement.
Contemporary music is always a significant focus of the Proms, and this year sees 29 premieres (including 15 world premieres) from such diverse composers as Sir Harrison Birtwistle, Julian Anderson, Judith Weir and Cheryl Frances-Hoad.
Ensembles making their Proms debut this year include the Cincinnati Symphony, the Latvian Radio Choir and the UK’s first BME orchestra, Chineke!, while debut soloists include pianists Beatrice Rana and Inon Barnaton and soprano Christiane Karg. Another first will see the Proms taking a trip to Hull, the current UK City of Culture, for a performance of Handel’s Water Music in its 300th year.
Events exploring where classical music meets other genres include Jools Holland and His Rhythm & Blues Orchestra, the evening devoted to Indian and Pakistani classical music, and a tribute to Ella Fitzgerald and Dizzy Gillespie in the centenary year of their births.
Ahead of the announcement, Gramophone’s Editor Martin Cullingford met with the Proms Director David Pickard to talk through the new season for a Gramophone Podcast. You can download this Podcast, and subscribe to future episodes, at Gramophone's iTunes page. Or you can listen below:
While London’s Royal Albert Hall is of course the Proms's home, audiences around the world can hear and watch the season via BBC Radio 3 and a number of television broadcasts. And the BBC also promises that this year it will ‘stream the entire season in the highest audio quality the BBC has ever broadcast’. For the full eight weeks of the festival, BBC Radio 3 will be available as a lossless audio stream as part of a trial called ‘BBC Radio 3 Concert Sound’. For more information, and for full details of the BBC Proms season, visit the Proms website.