A number of threads running through the season hold connections to the remarkable year of 1918.
First World War and Remembrance
100 years since the end of the First World War, the Proms revisits this key period in modern history with an exploration of the composers and writers who came to document it, and invites contemporary composers to offer their reflections on the legacy of The Great War.
Hubert Parry takes centre-stage as a composer who died in 1918, after leaving an indelible imprint on the British classical music tradition. The works of Parry’s remarkable pupils including Holst, Vaughan Williams and Frank Bridge are explored through the lens of his legacy.
Five Telegrams (13 July): A joint commission with 14–18 NOW and the Edinburgh International Festival, this contemporary response, with music by Anna Meredith (pictured above), will explore forms of communication used during this time of conflict and will feature specially created visual projections, producing a unique, multi-sensory experience.
The Planets (13 July): Paired with Anna Meredith’s new work, The Planets received its premiere in 1918, the year The Great War came to an end.
Ode to Death (27 July): Written by Holst to mourn friends lost at war, this piece sets a passage from Walt Whitman’s 1865 elegy, "When lilacs last in the dooryard bloom’d".
Sinfonia da Requiem (21 July): A piece whose three movements (Lacrymosa, Dies irae and Requiem aeternam) call to mind the fallen soldiers and the composer’s lifelong anti-war politics is performed by the World Orchestra for Peace.
The Lark Ascending (27 July): This elegiac piece for solo violin and orchestra was composed in 1914 but received its premiere in 1921 owing to the disruption of the First World War.
Pastoral Symphony (27 July): Completed in 1921, the third of Vaughan Williams’s symphonies has come to be held as a commemoration of the war dead and a meditation on the beauty of peace.
Dona nobis pacem (12 August): Written in 1936, this cantata is a plea for peace and takes its inspiration from four key texts: liturgical passages from the Mass, three poems by Walt Whitman, a political speech and sections of the Bible.
Proms At… Roundhouse
George Benjamin directs the London Sinfonietta in a First World War centenary concert. Along with four world premieres, there will be works by Stravinsky, Messiaen and Ives (21 July).
Proms At… Lincoln Drill Hall
The Hebrides Ensemble perform Stravinsky’s 1918 The Soldier’s Tale, as the theme of war comes to this unique out-of-London setting (4 August).
Requiems (Brahms, Verdi and Britten)
The Mass for the dead comes to the Proms in three iterations (7 August, 30 August and 6 September), reflecting three of the many nations affected by the First World War: Germany (Brahms), Italy (Verdi) and the United Kingdom (Britten).
Two unique Proms At… Cadogan Hall lunchtime chamber music concerts are also devoted to Parry and his pupils including Vaughan Williams and Holst.
P@CH 4 sees Dame Sarah Connolly perform a programme of works by composers associated with the Royal College of Music, where Parry was a former Director
P@CH 6 sees the BBC Singers deliver a programme around the theme of endings with a beautiful selection of English part-songs
Marking 100 years since the birth of one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century, the BBC Proms surveys the work and legacy of Leonard Bernstein as composer, conductor and educator.
Candide – overture 6 August
The Minnesota Orchestra and conductor Osmo Vänskä lead an all-American programme with Bernstein’s Candide overture, Gershwin’s Piano Concerto in F major and Ives’s Symphony No. 2, a work premiered by Bernstein in 1951.
Symphony No. 1, ‘Jeremiah’ 10 August
Sir Antonio Pappano (pictured above) and the Orchestra of the Academy of Santa Cecilia, Rome, perform Bernstein’s first symphony Jeremiah, alongside works by Haydn and Mahler - two composers who greatly inspired him.
West Side Story 11 August John Wilson and his eponymous orchestra give two concert performances of arguably the greatest musical of the 20th century.
On The Town 25 August
On what would have been Bernstein’s 100th birthday, John Wilson leads the London Symphony Orchestra in a concert performance of Bernstein’s 1944 musical On The Town.
The Sound Of An Orchestra 26 August
In a tribute to Leonard Bernstein’s televised presentations, which brought classical music to generations of new audiences, the Proms pays homage to his pioneering work. With creative direction from Gerard McBurney and projection design by Mike Tutaj, conductor Joshua Weilerstein and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra’s The Sound Of An Orchestra presents a vivid tapestry of words, projections and music.
P@C 7 27 August
A lunchtime chamber music concert explores Bernstein’s chamber works, including the UK premiere of Conch Town. The concert also features the world premiere of a BBC commission by Bushra El-Turk (pictured above) written in response to Bernstein’s vocal recipe settings La bonne cuisine.
Slava! (A Political Overture) and Symphony No. 2, ‘The Age of Anxiety’ 27 August
Marin Alsop (pictured above), a student of Bernstein, and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra conclude our bank-holiday Bernstein birthday weekend with the orchestra’s debut at the Proms.
This season we mark 100 years since the death of the composer Hubert Parry, whose hymn Jerusalem is not only one of his best-loved compositions, but was adopted as a rallying cry by the suffragettes and is still sung annually at the Last Night of the Proms.
Two orchestras celebrating their 100th anniversaries in 2018 and performing at the Proms are: