Entertainment & Arts

BBC Proms 2016: Strictly, Bowie and music in a car park

David Bowie and Katie Derham on Strictly Come Dancing Image copyright AP / BBC
Image caption The Proms' new director said he wanted the festival to have "a broad appeal"

The BBC Proms, Britain's annual celebration of classical music, is to include music by David Bowie and a Strictly Come Dancing theme night.

The Strictly Prom, on 21 July, will be hosted by BBC Radio 3's Katie Derham, a finalist in last year's show.

Bowie will be honoured with a late-night Prom on 29 July, featuring Amanda Palmer and Anna Calvi, amongst others.

And the festival will temporarily abscond its home at the Royal Albert Hall for a concert in a car park.

Taking place in Peckham, south-east London, the open-air show will feature Christopher Stark and the Multi-Storey Orchestra performing works by minimalist composer Steve Reich.

The Proms' new director David Pickard said previous concerts at the venue, a disused municipal garage, had been "very exciting" and a departure from type of venues that typically host classical concerts.

"The demographic is completely unlike anything I've ever seen," he told BBC News, adding that the aim of his inaugural year was to present "the best of classical music to the widest possible audience".

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Media captionA look ahead to the 2016 Proms

Elsewhere, the Proms will pay tribute to French conductor and composer Pierre Boulez, who died in January aged 90.

The Ensemble Intercontemporain, which he founded, will present a programme of pieces he conducted during more than 40 years of appearances at the Proms on 2 September.

Image caption Pierre Boulez was a frequent performer at the Proms over his career

Other highlights from the 2016 programme include

  • US music legend Quincy Jones presents an overview of his career, from his solo works to collaborations with Miles Davis and Michael Jackson.
  • A season of music inspired by Shakespeare, marking 400 years since the playwright's death.
  • The return of the popular CBeebies Prom.
  • Bryn Terfyl performing the title role in Mussorgsky's Boris Godunov.
  • A celebration of Latin American music, to coincide with the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
  • Ten cello concertos, starting with Elgar's Cello Concerto, performed by Sol Gabetta on the First Night.
  • The John Wilson Orchestra performing the best of George and Ira Gershwin, marking the 120th anniversary of Ira's birth.
  • A night of Gospel music, featuring a handpicked selection of singers from the UK's leading gospel groups.
  • All three of Stravinsky's landmark ballets for the Ballet Russes, performed over one weekend.

Explore the full line-up on the BBC Proms website

Image caption The Proms have been held in London since 1895

The Bowie Prom is billed as a "celebration and reinterpretation" of the star's music "from right across the spectrum", overseen by Berlin-based collective s t a r g a z e.

"Bowie is one of those people who had a tremendous influence on musicians of all kinds," said Pickard. "I wanted to celebrate that and show just how versatile and extraordinary a song-maker he was."

The Strictly Prom will feature waltzes, foxtrots and tangos, as well as several of the professional dancers from the BBC One show.

"The music will be to the fore - but with lots of spangly things," said Radio 3's controller Alan Davey.

Ticket prices up

This year's festival includes more than 90 concerts, culminating in the world-famous Last Night on 10 September.

The grand finale will turn the spotlight on young musicians, with the Proms Youth Ensemble premiering a new work by Tom Harold, one of the winners of the BBC's young composers competition.

The concert will also feature Peruvian tenor Juan Diego Florez, alongside the traditional performances of Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance and Rule, Britannia!

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Quincy Jones will provide an overview of his career, with the help of Jules Buckley and his Metropole Orkeste

Although the Last Night is traditionally raucous, last year saw scenes reminiscent of a rock concert, as audience members threw underwear at German singer Jonas Kauffman.

"Will people throw throw their knickers at the front [again]? I suppose they might do," said Pickard. "But, you know, you're asking for it if you put Jonas Kauffman on stage on the Last Night."

"Bu look, the Last Night, as we all know, people get excited and it's a party atmosphere but what we tried to do with the Last Night this year is [have] the party atmosphere start in the second half, not right at the beginning."

More than 100,000 tickets for this year's festival will be available for £12.50 or less, although the price of the cheapest ticket has risen from £5 to £6.

Pickard said that, despite budget cuts across the BBC, the Proms had had its funding protected. The event costs £10 million to stage, half of which comes from the licence fee, with the rest raised via ticket sales.

All of the concerts will be broadcast on BBC Radio 3, with 26 filmed for television or iPlayer. Television coverage will be limited to Saturday nights during the Olympic Games in August, but a week-long series of concerts will be broadcast on BBC Four immediately after the games.

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