Launching the 2011 BBC Proms ...
It's the morning of the BBC Proms launch. I have a real sense of anticipation and excitement because, at last, it's possible to tell everyone about the 2011 plans.
I always feel rather unfriendly keeping the plans as secret as possible until now.
We need as much publicity as possible on launch day as we have hundreds of thousands of tickets to sell and therefore want to spread the word as widely as we can. Leaks beforehand would simply drip the news out and potentially undermine the launch day splash.
Of course, in these days of social networking, rumours spread very quickly - and some of them were really wide of the mark! The first Proms performance of Havergal Brian's Gothic Symphony, however, has been one of the worst kept secrets in recent history! It's been fun to read the message boards full of 'will they, won’t they?' comments. So now it’s clear - we will! I'm not, by the way, one of those who, in order to make the case for a neglected work, overstates its importance. I don't claim the Gothic as a masterpiece, any more than I do the Second Symphony of Arnold Bax (also receiving its Proms premiere this year), but I do think they are important pieces, worth hearing in good performances and then letting audiences make up their own mind, rather than being influenced by second- or third-hand opinions.
Last year I was shocked (or perhaps just disappointed) when enquiring further of those who dismissed Parry's symphonies to discover that they had never heard any! I will, however, very much fight the corner for the quality of music by Frank Bridge. 'There is a willow', 'Enter Spring' and the Piano Quintet are fine works to stand alongside more regularly performed pieces and his place in musical history should stand for more than being simply Britten's teacher.
Of course with two months of concerts and a rich array of satellite events there is plenty for me to announce and lots of information for our audiences to take in and respond to. It's good to be able to give out all the details although I find there is far too much to talk about; so keeping it clear is one thought uppermost in my mind when talking about the music and performers featured this year.
If there is one event I would single out as an intriguing and fun concert to which I am particularly looking forward it is the Audience Choice Prom which will be given by the wonderful Budapest Festival Orchestra and Ivan Fischer. This will be the first Prom in which the whole programme has been selected by the audience in the hall. Pity the orchestra librarian!
I started to do interviews last week for those outlets with long lead times. It is around this time that we try to nail down as much of next year as possible and so my biggest challenge in giving interviews is not to get the years mixed up. It would be all too easy for me to give out the 2012 details now as they are most fresh in my mind!
One of the regular questions I get asked is 'what are the highlights?' or 'What is new this year?' It will be easier to talk about what seems to have particularly engaged and surprised the audience in the next few weeks when the discussion really gets into full swing. But there's no doubt that some of the star artists will excite ticket buyers as well as the international orchestras. I look forward to answering questions online once the season gets under way.
- Visit the BBC Proms website
- Watch a video of Roger Wright introducing the season
- Watch Katie Derham, Edward Gardner, and young stars Benjamin Grosvenor and Alice Sara Ott launch the BBC Proms 2011
- Watch Proms debut artist Alice Sara Ott perform Liszt's 'La Campanella' at the launch
- Watch Benjamin Grosvenor, who will be the youngest soloist to perform at the First Night of the Proms, in an outdoor performance of Chopin arr. Liszt 'Maiden's Wish'