BBC Proms 2018

From Bach to Bernstein via Buckley’s New York Disco, unveiling the 2018 BBC Proms

At a glance

Date: 19.04.2018     Last updated: 19.04.2018 at 00.01
The 2018 BBC Proms opens spectacularly with a contemporary response to the First World War by one of today’s most imaginative and eclectic young composers, Anna Meredith.

A joint commission with 14–18 NOW and Edinburgh International Festival, her piece Five Telegrams features stunning visual projections from 59 Productions, and draws on the talents of the BBC Proms Youth Ensemble and the National Youth Choir of Great Britain.
Six centenaries will be marked during the season:

  • the end of the First World War
  • the birth of Leonard Bernstein
  • the death of Claude Debussy
  • the death of Lili Boulanger
  • the death of Hubert Parry
  • the parliamentary recognition of women’s right to vote

The centenary of the birth of Leonard Bernstein is marked throughout the season with a series of concerts celebrating all aspects of his life as composer, conductor and educator. Highlights include concert performances of two of his most famous stage-works - West Side Story and On The Town - and a tribute to his televised presentations, which brought classical music to generations of new audiences.

100 years since women in the UK were granted the right to vote, eight BBC commissions are given to women composers never previously commissioned by the BBC, as part of the long-running Proms At… Cadogan Hall lunchtime chamber music series: Caroline Shaw, Eve Risser, Jessica Wells, Lisa Illean, Suzanne Farrin, Laura Mvula, Bushra El-Turk and Nina Šenk.

With a further commission for Roxanna Panufnik on the Last Night (alongside Anna Meredith on the First Night), women composers are celebrated at two of the most high-profile events in the classical music calendar.

Marking 40 years of BBC Young Musician’s contribution to nurturing young talent, a gala concert features 21 alumni, including Nicola Benedetti, Michael Collins and Sheku Kanneh-Mason (pictured above).

Proms At… visits the Roundhouse in Camden as well as two new exciting venues: Lincoln Drill Hall and Alexandra Palace in North London for the first official concert in its Victorian Theatre as its £26m refurbishment nears completion.

Following the success of the first ever Relaxed Prom in 2017, this year sees the return of the concert format designed to be open to all, with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and its disabled-led ensemble BSO Resound.

The BBC Proms continues to champion new music and previously unperformed works with over 40 premieres, including recently rediscovered and newly completed works by Britten and Bernstein.

There are over 90 debuts this season, including the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande in its 100th-birthday year. There are also first visits to the Proms for the Estonian Festival Orchestra and Il Giardino Armonico.

Other highlights from the international orchestral scene include: Kirill Petrenko with the Berliner Philharmoniker; Sir Antonio Pappano with the Orchestra of the Academy of Santa Cecilia, Rome; and Daniel Barenboim (pictured above) with the West–Eastern Divan Orchestra.

Achieving widespread acclaim in recent years for their highly original interpretations, Teodor Currentzis and MusicAeterna make their Proms debut, bringing their radical approach to Beethoven in performances of his Second and Fifth Symphonies.

The Aurora Orchestra’s Proms visits are always a highlight of the season - less a concert than a musical event. This year Nicholas Collon and the orchestra tackle their boldest challenge yet - performing Shostakovich’s Ninth Symphony from memory.

The London Contemporary Orchestra presents a late-night sonic exploration featuring composers from the BBC Radiophonic Workshop collective, Daphne Oram and Delia Derbyshire, who achieved cult status for her electronic arrangement of the Doctor Who TV theme.

The sounds on the streets of New York are brought to a Late Night Prom by Proms favourite Jules Buckley, as rising stars and established artists from across the Big Apple present everything from pagan-gospel to feminist rap.

Bach’s six Brandenburg Concertos are heard alongside new musical responses in UK premieres by Uri Caine, Brett Dean, Anders Hillborg, Olga Neuwirth, Steven Mackey and Mark-Anthony Turnage performed by the Swedish Chamber Orchestra over two concerts in one day.

Since appearing at the Proms in 2016, online sensation Jacob Collier (pictured above) has picked up two Grammy Awards and now returns to the Proms with a host of special guests.

The Tango Prom sees the Britten Sinfonia and Pablo Ziegler present a celebration of Argentine tango, along with its thriving variant that took hold in Finland.

Grammy Award-winning Senegalese singer Youssou Ndour (pictured above) makes his Proms debut with his band Le Super Étoile de Dakar.

Sir John Eliot Gardiner continues his multi-season Berlioz project with a programme devoted to the composer, featuring Joyce DiDonato and the Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique.

The brainchild of Australia’s leading reggae and dancehall producer, Mista Savona, Havana Meets Kingston invites some of the most influential musicians from Jamaica and Cuba - including original members of the Buena Vista Social Club - to fuse Cuban rhythms and melodies with the deep bass of Jamaican dub.

Sir András Schiff completes his two-year late-night Bach series with book two of The Well-Tempered Clavier.

Oud virtuoso Joseph Tawadros - heralded for his work in reimagining the range of music accessible to his instrument - presents a concert steeped in Arabic sound-worlds, alongside a world premiere by Jessica Wells.

In the centenary year of Debussy’s death, a French music theme runs through the summer, including two complete operas, Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande and Ravel’s L’enfant et les sortilèges.

Celebrating Folk Music around Britain and Ireland, leading artists including The Unthanks, Sam Lee and Julie Fowlis are joined by the BBC Concert Orchestra.

Sir Andrew Davis marks 130 appearances at the Proms by conducting the Last Night for the 12th time. He will be joined by Canadian baritone Gerald Finley making his Last Night of the Proms debut alongside 2016 BBC Young Musician finalist and saxophonist Jess Gillam (pictured above).