Last Night of the Proms gets its first female conductor

Marin Alsop American conductor and violinist Marin Alsop makes history on September 7

A woman is to be handed the baton for the Last Night of the Proms for the first time ever.

American conductor and violinist Marin Alsop will close the 2013 season on September 7 amid the traditional flag waving.

The music director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, who conducted the São Paulo Symphony Orchestra in their Proms debut last year, will be joined on the Last Night by mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato and Nigel Kennedy.

The British violinist will be dashing between the Proms in the Park in Hyde Park - one of four outdoor events - and the Royal Albert Hall. He will also perform Vivaldi's The Four Seasons at an earlier Prom; his 1989 recording of the piece is one of the best selling classical works ever.

Good value

The 119th Proms season will open at the Royal Albert Hall on July 12 and will feature 92 concerts, with tickets for Prommers - who stand in front of the stage - still costing just £5.

Roger Wright, director of the BBC Proms, believes it is 'one of the best value-for-money experiences anywhere'.

With eight weeks of music, spanning everything from Wagner to Frank Zappa, Wright says 'it is a festival where there is something for everyone to enjoy'.

Daniel Barenboim will conduct the first ever complete Wagner Ring Cycle at the Proms during the eight week festival. The Argentinian pianist and conductor will lead the Staatskapelle Berlin - the orchestra of the Berlin State Opera - in his first performance of a Wagner opera in the UK, with Welsh opera star Bryn Terfel among the guest singers.

Celebrating 200 years since the birth of composer Richard Wagner, the Proms will also feature three of his other operas. Tribute is also paid to his fellow bicentenarian Guiseppe Verdi by two Italian orchestras.

Britten premiere

And relative youngsters Benjamin Britten and Witold Lutoslawski - both born 100 years ago - are remembered across 18 Proms, including a world premiere of a Britten piece.

Other classical highlights include everything from a complete Tchaikovsky symphony cycle to a world premiere of the BBC-commissioned Piano Concerto by experimental composer Frederic Rzewski.

Doctor Who takes the Tardis to the Albert Hall for his third Prom - tying in with the programme's 50th anniversary - while the Stranglers are among the stars of the debut 6 Music Prom.

Greggery Peccary

There are first proms dedicated to gospel and to urban music, the latter featuring Fazer, Laura Mvula and Maverick Sabre. There will also be a rare performance of Frank Zappa's The Adventures of Greggery Peccary, which was originally released in 1978.

While welcoming numerous guest orchestras, groups and performers, the Proms will rely on the BBC's six performing groups as the musical backbone. Sakari Oramo will conduct the First Night of the Proms, marking the start of his turn as the BBC Symphony Orchestra's chief conductor.

Every prom will be broadcast live on Radio 3 and streamed in HD on the website, with the pick of the proms featured across BBC television and radio.

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