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29 October 2014
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BBC Proms 2008 
BBC Proms 2008: Conductor Mark Elder

BBC Proms 2008


The BBC Proms celebrates the anniversaries of two great composers in 2008 – the 50th anniversary of the death of Ralph Vaughan Williams and the centenary of Olivier Messiaen.


From Vaughan Williams's cherished The Lark Ascending to lesser-known works such as his Piano Concerto, and from Messiaen's organ pieces to his largest work, Saint Francis Of Assisi, their music will be heard throughout the season by esteemed champions from around the globe.


There are also opportunities to hear leading experts on both composers in conversation – with pre-concert talks, films and discussions as part of the new and extended pre-Prom events series, Proms Plus, offering the opportunity to get inside both the life and music of these eminent musicians.


Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872–1958)


Fifty years after the death of one of Britain's finest composers, the 2008 Proms season celebrates the music of Ralph Vaughan Williams with a host of favourites that are regularly heard at the Proms, as well as far less well-known works, positioning the composer at the forefront of 20th century British music, both as a staunch defender of English cultural heritage and a leader in setting new trends for English music.


Hear The Lark Ascending, one of his much-loved works, alongside many of his symphonies, the rarely heard Piano Concerto and the inclusion of his Sea Songs on the last night.




  • Anniversary celebrations with an all-Vaughan Williams concert including his Serenade To Music (26 August, Prom 54)

  • In celebration of the Hallé's 150th anniversary, Mark Elder conducts the Symphony No. 8, written for the Hallé (29 July, Prom 16)

  • Ashley Wass gives a rare performance of the Piano Concerto (12 August, Prom 35)

  • The BBC SO and Sir Roger Norrington perform the composer's Sea Songs to close the 2008 season (13 September, Prom 76)


Vaughan Williams listings


  • Thursday 24 July, 7.30pm (Prom 10)
    Symphony No. 4
    BBC Philharmonic/Yan Pascal Tortelier

  • Tuesday 29 July, 7.30pm (Prom 17)
    Symphony No. 8 in D minor
    Hallé/Mark Elder

  • Friday 8 August, 7.00pm (Prom 29)
    Five Variants On Dives And Lazarus; Symphony No. 6
    Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/Leonard Slatkin

  • Tuesday 12 August, 7.00pm (Prom 35)
    Piano Concerto
    Ashley Wass (piano); BBC Philharmonic/Vassily Sinaisky

  • Sunday 17 August, 7.30pm (Prom 43)
    Flos Campi
    Lawrence Power (viola); BBC Singers; City of London Sinfonia/Richard Hickox

  • Tuesday 26 August, 7.30pm (Prom 54)
    Fantasia On A Theme By Thomas Tallis; Job: A Masque For Dancing; Serenade To Music; Symphony No. 9
    Sarah Tynan; Elizabeth Atherton; Sophie Bevan; Rachel Nicholls (sopranos); Allison Cook; Louise Poole; Julia Riley; Catherine Hopper (mezzo-sopranos); Ed Lyon; Joshua Ellicott, Peter Wedd; Nicholas Sharratt (tenors); Mark Stone; Darren Jeffery; George von Bergen; Tim Mirfin (basses); BBC Symphony Orchestra/Sir Andrew Davis

  • Wednesday 27 August, 7.00pm (Prom 55)
    The Lark Ascending
    Akiko Suwanai (violin); Philharmonia Orchestra/Peter Eötvös

  • Monday 1 September, 1.00pm, Cadogan Hall (PCM 7)
    On Wenlock Edge
    Mark Padmore (tenor); Nash Ensemble

  • Wednesday 10 September, 6.30pm (Prom 73)
    Sinfonia Antartica (Symphony No. 7)
    Elizabeth Watts (soprano); Holst Singers; BBC Symphony Orchestra/Martyn Brabbins

  • Saturday 13 September, 8.00pm (Prom 76)
    Sea Songs
    BBC Symphony Orchestra/Sir Roger Norrington


Proms Plus


  • Thursday 24 July, 5.45pm, Royal College of Music
    Proms Intro
    Managing and Artistic Director of the English Music Festival, Em Marshall, and pianist Ashley Wass discuss Bax, Vaughan Williams and English music with Petroc Trelawny

  • Tuesday 26 August, 5.45pm, Royal College of Music
    Proms Intro
    RCM Chief and Deputy Librarians, Pam Thompson and Peter Horton, join Michael Kennedy and Stephen Johnson to discuss Ralph Vaughan Williams on the 50th anniversary of his death




  • Sunday 24 August, 1.00pm, Royal College of Music
    O Thou Transcendent – Tony Palmer's new biopic of Vaughan Williams, the first full-length documentary on the composer and introduced by the director

  • Sunday 24 August, 1.00pm, Royal College of Music
    Scott Of The Antarctic – Introduced by Anthony Payne


Olivier Messiaen (1908–92)


The BBC Proms celebrates Messiaen's centenary with performances of 17 works over 14 concerts showcasing the extraordinary breadth of his compositions, which draw on his devout Catholic faith, fascination with birdsong, and the effects of his war experience so profoundly expressed in the Quartet For The End Of Time, as well as his Turangalîla Symphony – one of his few works to explore human, not divine, love.


International artists pay homage to this composer – pianist Pierre-Laurent Aimard, who first met Messiaen as a 12-year-old student at the Paris Conservatoire; the Berliner Philharmoniker and Sir Simon Rattle; conductors Myung-Whun Chung and George Benjamin; organist Jennifer Bate, who has championed his work throughout her career and, in this centenary year, performs his music all over the world; and rising star Gweneth-Ann Jeffers in the Proms Chamber Music series.


Further opportunities to get inside the life and music of Messiaen are offered with pre-concert events in the Proms Plus series.




  • Organists Wayne Marshall, Jennifer Bate and James O'Donnell in recital (3, 10 & 17 August, Proms 22, 32 & 42)

  • Turangalîla Symphony with Pierre-Laurent Aimard (piano); Tristan Murail (ondes martenot); and the Berliner Philharmoniker/Sir Simon Rattle (2 September, Prom 64)

  • Rare performances of Messiaen's two largest works, Saint Francis Of Assisi by The Netherlands Opera with 270 performers on stage (7 September, Prom 70) and La Transfiguration de Notre Seigneur Jésus-Christ with Thierry Fischer conducting BBC National Orchestra of Wales (27 July, Prom 14)

  • Quartet For The End Of Time (4 September, Prom 67)

  • Organist Olivier Latry in conversation with Tom Service in Proms Plus, before his performance of L'Ascension (21 July, Prom 6)


Messiaen listings


  • Friday 18 July, 8.00pm (Prom 1)
    La Nativité du Seigneur – Dieu parmi nous
    Wayne Marshall (organ)

  • Monday 21 July, 1.00pm Cadogan Hall (PCM 1)
    Catalogue d'oiseaux – L'alouette lulu
    Pierre-Laurent Aimard (piano)

  • Monday 21 July, 7.30pm (Prom 6)
    L'Ascension (for organ)
    Et Exspecto Resurrectionem Mortuorum
    Olivier Latry (organ); Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France/Myung-Whun Chung

  • Sunday 27 July, 7.00pm (Prom 14)
    La Transfiguration de Notre Seigneur Jésus-Christ
    Dénes Várjon (piano); Adam Walker (flute); Julian Bliss (clarinet); Sonia Wieder-Atherton (cello); Colin Currie (xylophone); Adrian Spillett (marimba); Richard Benjafield (vibraphone); BBC Symphony Chorus; BBC National Chorus of Wales; BBC National Orchestra of Wales/Thierry Fischer

  • Sunday 3 August, 4.00pm (Prom 21)
    Verset pour la Fête de la Dédicace; Prélude For Organ
    Wayne Marshall (organ)

  • Wednesday 6 August, 7.30pm (Prom 27)
    L'Ascension (for orchestra)
    BBC Symphony Orchestra/George Benjamin

  • Sunday 10 August, 4.00pm (Prom 32)
    Messe de la Pentecôte
    James O'Donnell (organ)

  • Monday 11 August, 1.00pm (PCM 4)
    Gweneth-Ann Jeffers (soprano); Simon Lepper (piano)

  • Sunday 17 August, 4.00pm (Prom 42)
    Apparition de l'église éternelle
    La Nativité du Seigneur
    Jennifer Bate (organ)

  • Tuesday 19 August, 7.00pm (Prom 45)
    Concert à quatre
    Cédric Tiberghien (piano); Emily Beynon (flute); Alexei Ogrintchouk (oboe); Danjulo Ishizaka (cello); BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra/Ilan Volkov

  • Monday 1 September, 10.00pm (Prom 63)
    Cinq rechants
    BBC Singers/David Hill

  • Tuesday 2 September, 7.30pm
    Turangalîla Symphony
    Pierre-Laurent Aimard (piano); Tristan Murail (ondes martenot); Berliner Philharmoniker/Sir Simon Rattle

  • Thursday 4 September, 10.00pm (Prom 67)
    Quartet For The End Of Time
    Martin Fröst (clarinet); Anthony Marwood (violin); Matthew Barley (cello); Thomas Larcher (piano)

  • Sunday 7 September, 4.00pm (Prom 70)
    Saint Francis Of Assisi
    Heidi Grant Murphy (soprano); Hubert Delamboye, Charles Workman, Donald Kaasch (tenors); Rod Gilfry, Henk Neven (baritones); Armand Arapian, Jan Willem Baljet, André Morsch (basses); The Netherlands Opera; The Hague Philharmonic; Chorus of the Netherlands Opera/Ingo Metzmacher


Proms Plus


  • Monday 21 July, 5.45pm, Royal College of Music
    Proms Intro
    Oliver Latry in conversation with Tom Service about the great French composer

  • Sunday 27 July, 5.45pm, Royal College of Music
    Proms Intro
    A romantic modernist – Messiaen's music from the vantage point of La Transfiguration, with Christopher Dingle and musicians from the RCM, presented by Tom Service

  • Tuesday 2 September, 5.45pm, Royal College of Music
    Proms Intro
    Martin Handley talks to Tristan Murail about the ondes martenot and this intriguing electronic instrument's role in Messiaen's Turangalîla Symphony

  • Sunday 7 September, 2.15pm, Royal College of Music
    Proms Intro
    Tom Service and Messiaen scholars Peter Hill and Nigel Simeone discuss Messiaen's Saint Francis Of Assisi




  • Sunday 17 August, 1.00pm, Royal College of Music
    Olivier Messiaen: La liturgie de crystal – A film by Olivier Mille introducing Messiaen's musical universe through a series of archive clips filmed between 1964 and 1987


Other composer anniversaries


Elliott Carter (born 1908)


  • Friday 18 July, 8.00pm (Prom 1)
    Caténaires (UK premiere)
    Pierre-Laurent Aimard (piano)

  • Monday 21 July, 1.00pm (PCM 1)
    Night Fantasies
    Pierre-Laurent Aimard (piano)

  • Monday 28 July, 5.45pm, Royal College of Music
    Proms Intro
    Writer and critic Paul Griffiths joins conductor David Robertson and oboist Nicholas Daniel, with presenter
    Andrew McGregor, to discuss the music of Elliott Carter

  • Monday 28 July, 7.30pm (Prom 15)
    Oboe Concerto
    Nicholas Daniel (oboe); BBC Symphony Orchestra/
    David Robertson

  • Monday 18 August, 7.30pm (Prom 44)
    Soundings (UK premiere)
    Nicolas Hodges (piano); BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra/Ilan Volkov


Karlheinz Stockhausen (1928–2007)


  • Saturday 2 August, 1.00pm, Royal College of Music
    Film: Double bill of Music Masters: Stockhausen and In Absentia, introduced by Robert Worby

  • Saturday 2 August, 4.15pm, Royal College of Music
    Proms Intro
    Ivan Hewett talks to Paul Hillier, Morag Grant, Robin Rimbaud and Robert Worby about Stockhausen

  • Saturday 2 August, 6.00pm (Prom 20)
    Gruppen (performed twice); Cosmic Pulses, for electronics (UK premiere); Harmonien, for solo trumpet (BBC commission: world premiere); Kontakte, Marco Blaauw (trumpet); Nicolas Hodges (piano); Colin Currie (percussion); BBC Symphony Orchestra/David Robertson/Pascal Rophé/Ludovic Morlot

  • Saturday 2 August, 10.15pm (Prom 21)
    Theatre of Voices/Paul Hillier

  • Friday 22 August, 7.00pm (Prom 48)
    Punkte (1952/1962/1993)
    Gürzenich Orchestra/Markus Stenz


Also noted...


  • Leoš Janáček died 80 years ago in 1928, and is celebrated with an all-Janáček Prom conducted by Pierre Boulez (Prom 40) and a concert performance of his opera Osud (Prom 47), with the BBC Symphony Orchestra conducted by his compatriot Jiří Bělohlávek.

  • 100 years after his death, Rimsky-Korsakov's music is heard with the sumptuous Sheherezade (Prom 35) and his rarely performed one-act opera Kashchey The Immortal (Prom 68).

  • Michael Berkeley, 60 in 2008, is celebrated with the world premiere of the new version of his Slow Dawn (Prom 33).

  • Nigel Osborne, also 60 in 2008, is celebrated with a performance of his Flute Concerto by Sharon Bezaly (Prom 44).

  • In the year that would have marked Leonard Bernstein's 90th birthday, cellist Han-Na Chang performs his Three Meditations From Mass (Prom 31).

  • Tasmin Little and Richard Watkins perform Ethel Smyth's Concerto For Horn And Violin in her 150th anniversary year (Prom 24).

  • Puccini's 150th anniversary is marked with a performance of Il Tabarro conducted by Gianandrea Noseda and featuring soprano Barbara Frittoli as Giorgetta (Prom 34). Plus a Proms Intro talk with Suzy Klein, Roger Parker and Alexandra Wilson.

  • Simon Holt has recently been appointed Composer-in-Association at the BBC National Orchestra for Wales. For his 50th birthday the orchestra performs the world premiere of the BBC commission Troubled Light (Prom 11). You can hear the composer in conversation about the work with Radio 3's Sarah Walker directly before the concert in a Proms Composer Portrait, which also features some of his chamber music.

  • Finnish composer Magnus Lindberg's Seht Die Sonne receives its UK premiere for his 50th birthday with his compatriot Jukka-Pekka Saraste conducting the Oslo Philharmonic. The work takes its title from the last chorus of Schoenberg's Gurrelieder (Prom 59).

  • Thea Musgrave's Rainbow is revived by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra – the orchestra which gave the work's world premiere 18 years ago – in celebration of the composer's 80th birthday (Prom 69).

  • Einojuhani Rautavaara, 80 in 2008, is celebrated with the Proms premiere of his best-known work, Cantus articus (Prom 56).



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