Unveiling the 2020 BBC Proms
17 July – 12 September
• The 2020 season will open on Friday 17 July on BBC Radio 3 and Sunday 19 July on BBC Four
• 8 weeks of broadcast on television, radio and online
• A unique First Night commission by Iain Farrington for a Grand Virtual Orchestra to mark the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth
• Plans for special live performances later in the season culminating in the Last Night of the Proms bringing the nation together on 12 September
125 Years on from its creation, the Proms will once again provide a summer of music, fulfilling founder Sir Henry Wood’s vision to ‘bring the greatest classical music to the widest possible audience’.
The current situation with COVID-19 means that the season we had originally planned is sadly no longer possible. Instead the Proms in 2020 have been reconceived in a different format, but our aim remains the same – to create the world’s greatest classical music festival by reflecting world-class music-making from leading artists around the globe, highlighting and featuring work by some of today’s most exciting and innovative composers.
The 2020 Proms will celebrate the past, reflect on the present and build for the future.
Delving into the BBC Archive
For the first time we celebrate some of the best of the Proms from the unrivalled BBC archive, which we will delve into to deliver a broadcast festival across radio, television, and online like no other. From Friday 17 July BBC Radio 3 will present past Proms concerts every evening, as well as a weekly Late Night Prom and a Monday lunchtime offering.
This will be a rare opportunity to reconnect people with concert and artists from the past as well as introducing these performances to new audiences.
Joining the celebrations on the opening weekend, BBC Four will broadcast stand out Proms each Sunday throughout the festival. Further TV highlights of Proms over the years will be available on BBC iPlayer.
From Friday 28 August our ambition is to have musicians performing live at the Royal Albert Hall across the final two weeks of the season, culminating in a poignant and unique Last Night of the Proms celebration to bring the nation together. The range of work will vary from solo performances to ensemble work and feature some of the greatest musicians of our time alongside emerging talent. We will reveal the full schedule of events nearer the time allowing us to respond to the latest government advice available.
Our digital offer will begin right at the start of the festival with a unique opening weekend commission performed by all the BBC Orchestras and BBC Singers. Featuring over 350 musicians, this Grand Virtual Orchestra will see all the groups performing together. To mark the 250th anniversary year of Beethoven's birth, a new mash-up of Beethoven's 9 Symphonies has been specially created by Iain Farrington, which will be a spectacular digital springboard for the summer.
Every live element will be captured for broadcast across radio, TV and online. Every archive Prom broadcast available live and on demand on BBC iPlayer and BBC Sounds. In addition there will be specially curated, on-demand music mixes on BBC Sounds.
All About Audiences
Audiences are always at the heart of the Proms, but this year they will play a unique role in helping shape the programme. Radio 3 is inviting audiences to get involved by requesting their favourite Proms performances of all time, making this truly the People’s Proms.
David Pickard, Director BBC Proms, said: “These are extraordinary times for our nation and the rest of the world, but they show that we need music and the creative industries more than ever. This year it is not going to be the Proms as we know them, but the Proms as we need them. We will provide a stimulating and enriching musical summer for both loyal Proms audiences and people discovering the riches we have to offer for the first time.”
All of us at the BBC Proms stand with music lovers everywhere and musicians around the world affected by COVID-19.