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Wednesday 24 Sep 2014

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BBC Proms 2009: leading musicians join young talent for biggest ever Proms, Friday 17 July-Saturday 12 September – Family Events and Activities

Family Prom

The BBC Proms has always been an important first contact point with classical music for wide audiences and bringing younger audiences to the Proms – and to classical music in general – has long been a central pillar of its accessibility.

Whether families want to attend a spectacular show, or find out more about the music through listening or participating, there are more ways to enjoy the Proms than ever. Events and activities range from fabulous concerts – including a free Family Prom with star violinist Jennifer Pike and an extravaganza for kids inspired by Darwin – to free participatory talks, workshops and creative projects. Among the highlights of these are an ambitious Proms Family Orchestra performance on the main stage of the Royal Albert Hall for the first time, as part of the free Family Prom (26 July).

Seats for all BBC Proms concerts remain half-price for under-16s (excluding the Last Night) and in 2008 nearly 6,000 children took up that offer for Proms concerts in the Royal Albert Hall.

£5 Promming on the day also remains extremely popular with young people.

Family-friendly concerts

In 2009 there are more big events for families to enjoy, with more family-orientated concerts than ever.

Free Family Prom

The free Family Prom (26 July): a matinee concert with the BBC Philharmonic devised to give new and younger audiences a first taste of classical music, and a flavour of the music to be heard throughout the season. It includes:

former BBC Young Musician of the Year and current Radio 3 New Generation Artist Jennifer Pike playing a rarity by Holst and a showpiece by Saint-Saens; there's Stravinsky arranging Chopin for the ballet and a Pomp and Circumstance March by Elgar, Britten's The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra and more

the world premiere of a specially created new work, which gives children and their families the chance to perform at the heart of a Royal Albert Hall concert as part of a super-sized Proms Family Orchestra.

Evolution! A Darwin-inspired Extravaganza for Kids

Evolution! A Darwin-inspired Extravaganza for Kids (1 & 2 Aug) with CBBC presenters Barney Harwood and Gemma Hunt, and special guest Sir David Attenborough, unleashes a natural selection of creatures in a child-friendly Prom inspired by the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin's birth. The concert journeys from prehistoric Earth to outer space in John Williams's soundtracks to Jurassic Park and Star Wars – and uncovers the bird kingdom (with Delius's On Hearing the First Cuckoo in Spring) and insect life (in Arvo Part's If Bach Had Been a Beekeeper). Britten's "Storm" Interlude from his opera Peter Grimes represents the primal elements before the arrival of animals, while Copland's Fanfare for the Common Man anticipates the collective human spirit. The Evolution! Prom also includes the world premiere of a new orchestral work by drum 'n' bass star Goldie – runner-up of last year's BBC Two Maestro competition – being filmed as part of a new two-part series to be broadcast on BBC Two. The new work – the first Goldie will have created for classical orchestra – also takes Evolution as its theme.

Indian Voices

Indian Voices day (16 Aug) includes the first Prom devoted to the music of Bollywood, an all-singing, all-dancing extravaganza fronted by the popular Indian TV talent-show host and award-winning singer Shaan, backed by the band The Groove, plus the Bollywood moves of dancers from Honey's Dance Academy, as well as a packed afternoon of free performances and workshops in Kensington Gardens.

Multiple Pianos

Multiple Pianos day (9 Aug) has a matinee featuring the six hands of three piano duos – the Labeque sisters, Philip Moore and Simon Crawford-Phillips, and the Biziak sisters – with Saint-Saens's playful zoological suite, The Carnival of the Animals, Mozart's playfully intimate double concerto in E flat major, Lutosπawski's virtuosic reworking of a famous Paganini Caprice and a new work by Anna Meredith, whose nation-hopping froms introduced her to Proms audiences at last year's Last Night of the Proms. There is also a Family Music Intro involving the many hands of pianocircus.

Ivan Fischer and the Budapest Festival Orchestra

There's a rare chance outside Hungary to hear Ivan Fischer and members of the Budapest Festival Orchestra give one of their famous children's concerts, when they perform a free interactive concert aimed at introducing classical music to 5- to 12-year-olds at the Royal College of Music as part of Proms Plus (18 Aug).


Encouraging young people and families to participate is becoming an ever more important strategy for engaging younger audiences, and in 2009 this is more evident than ever with plenty of opportunity for everyone – from absolute beginners to skilled amateurs – to play or sing with professional musicians. Close to 5,000 people participated in such BBC Proms Learning Events in 2008, and such initiatives as BBC Proms Family Orchestras and Family Music Intros continue strongly (see below), and there are additional ambitious projects devised specially for this season.

Proms Family Orchestra

The idea of the Proms Family Orchestra is simple: family members – whether mums, dads, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles or grandparents – sitting alongside each other, making music with professional musicians. Whatever instrument is played, and at whatever level, the whole family can join in the fun. The first one at BBC Proms Out+About in Reading in 2006 had just five families. By the 2008 season, each Family Orchestra was bigger than the average symphony orchestra!

The events take place before main concerts and pick up on the themes or music of the main performance. The BBC's I Was There webpage allows participants to watch and listen to their own performances online, and most are offered £5 tickets for further Proms concerts in the Royal Albert Hall.

Proms Family Orchestra events include:

the first performance in a main concert at the Royal Albert Hall, when a super-sized Proms Family Orchestra – combining members of earlier Proms Family Orchestras in London with new members from Salford – works with the BBC Philharmonic on a newly devised piece inspired by Britten's The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra, to be performed as part of this year’s Free Family Prom (26 July)

two Family Orchestra events at the Natural History Museum centred on the Darwin anniversary following Evolution! A Darwin-inspired Extravaganza for Kids (1 & 2 Aug)

an Indian Voices day Family Orchestra with a Bollywood twist
(16 Aug).

Proms Family Orchestras will also convene before Holst's The Planets Prom (25 July), the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain Prom
(8 Aug) and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra's first Prom of the season (31 Aug).

Family Music Intro

Family Music Intro offers specially devised pre-concert introductions to families, which aim to give illuminating previews of the works themselves, and a chance to meet the players, and hear the stories behind the music before the main Proms concerts. Everyone is invited to bring an instrument if they want to and get inside the works by creating music inspired by the concert programme which follows the events.

These family-friendly musical appetisers become an important part of the Proms' role in opening up individual pieces to new audiences.There are seven events in 2009 at the Royal College of Music.

Proms Family Music Intro offers the chance to:

get to know Holst's The Planets (25 July)

explore Stravinsky’s ballet music in this special dance-themed event with musicians and dancers (27 July)

make music with members of the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain (8 Aug)

explore music for piano or multiple pianos with pianocircus (9 Aug)

hear about the stories behind Stravinsky's The Fairy Kiss, Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto and Khachaturian's Spartacus with members of the Bournemouth SO (10 Aug)

gain insight into French, Canadian and Russian music with members of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (30 Aug)

learn about Ravel's Daphnis et Chloe with members of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra (31 Aug)

BBC Proms Out+About

Proms Out+About has been taking free live classical music into a number of different communities across London and the South-East for six years. Last year's Out+About programme included a 10-hour nomadic concert given by BBC Symphony Orchestra musicians around London, beginning with a morning appearance at Paddington station and including slots at University College Hospital, Heathrow Terminal 5, St Pancras International station and the British Museum. There is an even wider spread of pre-season Out+About events across London this year on Thursday 25 June, culminating in the full might of the BBC Symphony Orchestra performing with conductor John Wilson at Westfield Shopping Centre. The BBC Proms Team will be working with young musicians and local communities in advance and on the day to include them in the music-making.

BBC Proms Inspire Young Composers' Competition and Inspire scheme

The BBC Proms Inspire Young Composers' Competition, now in its 11th year, has helped many thousands of creative young people gain skills and confidence in expressing themselves through music, and set others on the road to recognition. Winners have the chance to have their work broadcast on BBC Radio 3, performed by professional musicians in a Proms Plus concert at the Royal College of Music (14 Aug) and receive a first BBC commission.

It's not just about the competition. Teenagers all over the country are given the opportunity to work with professional composers and musicians in Composer Labs during the winter, helping them find new skills and confidence to express themselves through music. Participants in the Composer Labs do not have to enter the competition, and composers can enter the competition without taking part in the Labs.

Entries to the competition are judged by a panel of top composers and experts from varied musical fields and all entrants and Lab attendees are invited to come to London and attend the Proms Inspire Day
(14 Aug). This provides an opportunity for the young composers to meet professional musicians, leading composers, other young composers and key music industry people, and to participate in creative workshops.

For the first time selected Inspire Young Composers are invited to write fanfares to be included within the Last Night of the Proms celebrations (12 Sept) in the Royal Albert Hall and regional park celebrations.

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