Sir Henry Wood and Robert Newman created the Proms for everyone and, in that spirit of making world-class music accessible to the widest possible audience, there is an ever-growing programme of free daily events under the umbrella of Proms Plus. All are designed to enhance the festival experience and create extra context, insight and entry points to the music for aficionados and newcomers alike, both at the events and on BBC Radio 3.
Proms Plus comprises six broad categories of daily events which take place at the Royal College of Music – Intro, Portrait, Sing, Literary, Late and Family – and audiences can choose from a range of presentations and interactive workshops across the season, from joining in singing workshops or participating in Family Orchestra and Chorus events to hearing well-known literary figures discuss the themes behind the music or leading contemporary composers introducing performances of their chamber works.
New for 2011 is a series of relaxed and informal Proms Plus Lates, which will take place in the Elgar Room at the Royal Albert Hall after eight Proms.
Proms Plus Intros feature musicians, conductors and other experts offering insights into the music being performed in the concert hall that evening. There are 30 Intros this season, exploring everything from the Golden Age of film musicals to Verdi's Requiem. Contributors include conductors Sir John Eliot Gardiner and John Wilson, musicologist Kenneth Hamilton, pianist Stephen Hough and members of the Israel Philharmonic and Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestras.
Proms Plus Portrait
Proms Plus Portraits offer audiences the chance to get close to the creative process behind the work of some of today's leading contemporary composers. Pascal Dusapin (27 July), Thomas Larcher (18 August), Kevin Volans (22 August) and Graham Fitkin (31 August) all discuss their work prior to their premieres later that evening and introduce performances of their chamber music, with musicians from UK conservatoires and the London Sinfonietta's Academy Ensemble.
Proms Plus Sing
An expanded series of participatory singing events is new for 2011. Proms Plus Sing events are linked with each of the eight Choral Sundays and invite adult singers (aged 16 plus) of all abilities to join professional singers and singing leaders in performing some of the music to be heard in that evening's Prom. There is also a further opportunity for audiences to join a singing workshop prior to the Last Night of the Proms (10 September).
Proms Plus Family
The popular Proms Plus Family strand returns with an exciting line-up of events for family members aged seven and upwards.
Proms Plus Family Intros offer imaginative, interactive ways to explore the music of the Proms, where participants can bring along their own instruments, play alongside professional musicians and explore the stories behind the music.
There are also two Proms Plus Family Poetry Workshops which coincide with the Horrible Histories and Human Planet Proms. These are presented by Ian McMillan and Michael Rosen respectively, who will invite participants to write a poem inspired by a piece of music at this year's Proms. Budding poets can also submit their work to the first Proms Poetry Competition.
Proms Plus Family Orchestra and Chorus events are two-hour creative sessions where participants take part in music-making with professional musicians before performing their new group composition. Whether it's World Music (23 July), Horrible Histories (30 July), Mozart and Beethoven (27 August) or Hollywood (29 August), there's something for everyone: all musical abilities are welcome. The World Music orchestra will also have the opportunity to showcase its talent on the Human Planet stage in Kensington Gardens (23 July).
There is also an Inspire Young Composers' Concert at the Royal College of Music (6 August) which features performances of the winning entries from this year's Proms Inspire Young Composers' Competition, while the Royal College of Music Learning programme, RCM Sparks, offers a fun complementary programme of musical activities for six- to 18-year-olds throughout the season.
Proms Plus Literary
Proms Plus Literary returns with an intriguing line-up of events that explore some of the cultural themes behind this year's music.
Highlights include novelist Kate Mosse discussing French literary classics in keeping with the season's focus on French music (18 July); Peggy Reynolds on the role of the cello in literature (20 July); playwright Mark Ravenhill and novelist Ali Smith on the Faust myth that has inspired so many composers (26 July); Oscar-winning writer Sir Ronald Harwood and silent film accompanist Neil Brand on music in film (12 August); and Proms musicians including Stephen Hough and Tasmin Little talking about their favourite works of fiction and poetry in events throughout the season.
New for 2011 is the Proms Poetry Competition. Launched in May, it will invite verse from children and adults that takes inspiration from a piece of music to be performed during the season. The winning entries will be announced by Ian McMillan and Michael Rosen at the Royal College of Music on 5 September.
Proms Plus Late
Proms Plus Late is a new series of relaxed and informal post-concert events in the Royal Albert Hall's Elgar Room. Featuring poetry and music from young artists, it is the perfect way for concert-goers to round off the evening.