BBC Proms 2012 is go!!!
To begin, I would like to apologise for my abuse of the exclamation mark in my title, but it felt necessary in order to convey to you my excitement that the full details of the BBC Proms 2012 have now been announced and I can talk about it with you.
The BBC Proms are to classical music what Glastonbury is to rock, and they are one of the highlights of my musical year. I love the buzz of excitement that surrounds the Albert Hall. I love the queues of Promenaders who queue with seemingly infinite reserves of patience rain, hail, or shine, to get tickets on the day.
I don't love the coach journeys to and from London, but until I've mastered the use of The Force I'll just have to deal with that.
This season we will perform in four Proms concerts, two of which will be broadcast on TV (my grandmother will be glued to the screen, just in case there is a fleeting shot of me), all of which can be heard live on BBC Radio 3.
Our Prom on Monday 6 August promises to be quite a spectacle, and after last year's Havergal Brian Gothic Symphony, I do not use the word spectacle lightly! In this concert, we will perform Bernstein's Mass - its first ever complete Proms performance - a work described by the Proms website as 'less a religious work than a theatrical happening'. However, what makes this Prom so special is that we will be joined by musicians from the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, young singers from across south Wales, the National Youth Orchestra of Wales and the National Youth Choir of Wales.
I, and a great many of my colleagues, discovered our love of music and performing through our national youth orchestras, and this year each of the United Kingdom's Youth Orchestras will feature in the Proms alongside one of their 'grown up' counterparts.
My first experience of playing in a professional scenario was in a side-by-side project between the Ulster Orchestra and the Ulster Youth Orchestra in a performance of Stravinsky's Rite of Spring with its then concertmaster Lesley Hatfield and Principal Conductor Thierry Fischer!
I think this will be an immensely exciting project. We actually have a few preparatory sessions with the young musicians this weekend - our principals will take sectional rehearsals and there will be a few tutti rehearsals also. This is an opportunity for us to work with today's young musicians, an opportunity for them to work alongside professionals, and an opportunity for them to experience the excitement and spirit of being a performer at the Proms.
Moreover, in my opinion, it is an opportunity for the Great British public to see the great, and exceedingly necessary role that our national youth orchestras play, especially in the current climate when many of them are increasingly feeling the financial pinch.
Obviously, in this Olympic year, Proms aren't the only big event happening in London this summer, but to me, they are still the best.
Explore the full programme of events at this year's BBC Proms by visiting bbc.co.uk/prom
Feel free to comment! If you want to have your say, on this or any other BBC blog, you will need to sign in to your BBC iD account. If you don't have a BBC iD account, you can register here - it'll allow you to contribute to a range of BBC sites and services using a single login.