Move over, Glastonbury: the world’s biggest music festival is about to begin. This year’s BBC Proms kick off on Friday July 17 at the Royal Albert Hall, which has hosted the series of classical concerts since 1941.
Every year the Proms see the world’s greatest orchestras and classical performers come to London, and 2015 is no exception. Advance booking is recommended for the biggest concerts – including, of course, the Last Night of the Proms – but up to 1,400 standing tickets are also available for each performance if you’re prepared to queue for a summer evening enjoying some of the world’s finest music.
With a wider scope than ever this year there’s a Prom for everyone, so we’ve picked a mixture of traditional and modern highlights to look out for. Check out our guide to this year’s series below.
For old-school Prommers
Norway’s finest Leif Ove Andsnes is the soloist for the five Beethoven piano concertos, played over three concerts with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra. He begins with Concerto No 1, then mixes up the order, ending with No 5, ‘The Emperor’ (July 23, 24 and 26).
Big-name international orchestras
This year the Vienna Philharmonic provides the prestige, first under conductor Semyon Bychkov in Brahms’s Symphony No 3 and the rarely heard Second Symphony by Franz Schmidt (September 10). The Viennese band are back the following evening under Sir Simon Rattle for Elgar’s mighty oratorio ‘The Dream of Gerontius’, with the BBC Proms Partitas for solo violin (July 31 and August 1). The nocturnal bacchanal continues with Youth Choir and Mrs Rattle – mezzo Magdelena Kozená (September 11).
Among a host of world-class instrumentalists, Portugal’s Maria João Pires is a captivating pianist who should excite and delight in Mozart’s Piano Concerto No 23, especially when backed up with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe under eminent conductor Bernard Haitink (August 28).
At 10.15pm, with the sun already set and the auditorium now replenished by a younger/more inebriated audience, a warmer and more intimate vibe takes over the Royal Albert Hall – perfect for violinist Alina Ibragimova to play JS Bach’s set of sonatas (August 22), while Yo-Yo Ma takes on the Olympian challenge of playing all six solo cello suites in a single concert (September 5).
For new-school Prommers
Proms go pop
Bobby Friction introduces the Late Night with… BBC Asian Network Prom, featuring Naughty Boy and Emeli Sandé joining the BBC Philharmonic for the best South Asian sounds (July 22). Jules Buckley conducts his Heritage Orchestra in homage to the Ibiza clubbing scene (July 29), while Late Night With… BBC Radio 1Xtra sees Buckley team up with rappers Wretch 32, Stormzy and Krept & Konan (August 12).
This year, Doctor Who steps aside for ‘Sherlock Holmes: A Musical Mind’, as the BBC Concert Orchestra and choir Stile Antico summon up music associated with the great fictional detective. Later, Sir David Attenborough pops up to present the ‘Life Story Prom’, offering recollections of making the recent TV series, with filmed excerpts accompanied by Murray Gold’s soundtrack, played live by the BBC Concert Orchestra (August 30).
Stage and screen
When it comes to the music of Hollywood and Broadway, there is only one person to turn to. Geordie conductor John Wilson returns to the Proms, first with his orchestra and vocalist Seth ‘Family Guy’ McFarlane to mark the centenary of Frank Sinatra (August 7). Then, he’s back with his band and the Maida Vale Singers to celebrate the Broadway musicals of Leonard Bernstein. So stand by for ‘Candide’, Wonderful Town’ and, of course, ‘West Side Story’ (September 5).
See a Prom for free
There is something irresistible about the word ‘free’. In this case it applies to trumpeter Alison Balsom as soloist in the free-to-attend world premiere of jazzer Guy Barker’s new concerto ‘The Lanterne of Light’. The BBC Concert Orchestra is then joined by four choirs and three principal singers for Carl Orff’s ‘Carmina Burana’ (September 6) – yes, the music used to fluff up the egos of judges on ‘The X Factor’.