Main content

Unmissable moments from the Proms 2019 season

The 2019 Proms season has certainly been one to remember - with standout performances from star players, unexpected moments and a whole load of surprises.

Here are just some of the best bits...

Ad you can also get the complete concerts for 30 days after broadcast by following these links:

Sheku stole the show

Sheku plays spellbinding Proms encore of Weinberg's Prelude No. 18

Sheku Kanneh-Mason performs Weinberg's Prelude No. 18 as an encore at BBC Proms 2019.

His third Proms outing to date (and with an increased profile following his headline-grabbing performance at last year's Royal Wedding), Sheku Kanneh-Mason continued to show why he's a superstar in the modern classical scene by producing mesmerising renditions of Elgar's Cello Concerto and Weinberg's Prelude No. 18 at Prom 46: City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra.

Nicola Benedetti provided an encore to remember

Star violinist disappears off stage during Proms encore

Nicola Benedetti on the "incredible feeling" of performing at the Royal Albert Hall.

During an address to the audience during her encore in Prom 12, a visibly emotional Nicola Benedetti paid tribute to the wonderful institution that is the Proms, saying: "It's incredible to be at the Proms. What a place, what a venue, what an atmosphere."

Telling the crowd that she wished to play "something slow and intimate", the star violinist delivered an encore to remember with a solo rendition of As The Wind Goes by Wynton Marsalis. As Benedetti played the final notes, she disappeared from the stage, with the sound of her violin fading ever into the distance.

The Breaks was a sight to behold

The Breaks: From the Bronx to the BBC Proms

Take a look back at one of the standout moments of the Proms 2019 season.

Prom 64: The Breaks paid tribute to the vibrant breakdancing scene that emerged from 1970s New York City, offering up big band reimaginings of some of the tunes that you'd likely hear blaring from a Bronx boombox during the time. But this very special Prom was a true feast for the eyes as well as the ears. Watch highlights from the Prom above.

Pekka brought everyone together

Pekka enlists choir of thousands in magical Proms encore

The star Finnish violinist leads Prommers in a haunting, folk-inspired improvisation.

Pekka Kuusisto's folk-inspired encores are great at showing how truly communal and joyous music can be. At Prom 20 this year, he led a choir of thousands, inviting the crowd to join him in humming unison.

"Let's rehearse a small thing," the Finnish violinist joked, before instructing: "We are going to need all of you to first hum a note with your mouths closed – all 6,000 of you." He added, "We will all feel like brothers and sisters" - and he was right.

Hough played Queen Victoria's piano

Proms encore played on Queen Victoria's golden piano

Pianist Stephen Hough performs Chopin on Queen Victoria's piano at the BBC Proms 2019.

Prom 40 celebrated the 200th anniversary of Queen Victoria’s birth by providing a look at the monarch's musical life with a programme featuring her favourite composer, Felix Mendelssohn. And the Prom was extra special for Stephen Hough, who had the honour of performing Felix Mendelssohn's First Piano Concerto on Queen Victoria's own golden piano, which Proms director David Pickard referred to as "an impressive bit of bling."

The Warner Bros Prom finished in WAND-erful fashion

Prom 30 featured a tribute to classic Hollywood scores by John Wilson and his orchestra, who performed iconic songs from Warner Brothers studios' biggest movies, featuring music by the likes of Frederick Loewe and John Williams, plus rousing tributes to Judy Garland and Doris Day.

The Prom finished in spectacular fashion too, with an excerpt from the Harry Potter soundtrack. Wand-erful, indeed.

This performance of Hans Zimmer's Interstellar was out of this world

Hans Zimmer's Interstellar (excerpt) from the Sci-Fi Film Music Prom (Proms 2019)

London Contemporary Orchestra play an extract from the soundtrack of "Interstellar"

With 2019 marking the 50th anniversary of the Moon landing, this year's Proms season was jam-packed with space-themed programmes. Prom 27: The Sound of Space: Sci-Fi Film Music honed in on cinematic scores, with Hans Zimmer's space-epic Interstellar a particular highlight, the London Contemporary Orchestra's performance of which was out of this world.

Meanwhile, BBC Ten Pieces also commissioned Zimmer for a brand-new work called Earth (performed during Prom 3 & 5: CBeebies: A Musical Trip to the Moon), which revolved around the concept of how our home planet must appear while looking back upon it from the Moon.

Public Service Broadcasting paid tribute to a NASA pioneer

Public Service Broadcasting - Go! (Proms 2019)

Public Service Broadcasting pay tribute to late NASA engineer Chris Kraft at the Proms.

Public Service Broadcasting's Late Night Prom also had a space theme, with the cult London band performing their 2015 album The Race For Space, a concept album that follows the Cold War-era Space Race between America and the Soviet Union, backed by the Multi-Storey Orchestra and London Contemporary Voices Choir.

The band's performance of the song Go! was particularly poignant, with frontman J Willgoose Esq. dedicating it to Christopher C Kraft, the man behind NASA's Mission Control, who passed away earlier in the same week and just two days after the 50th anniversary of the Moon landing.

We were taken on an intergalactic journey

Proms takes a trip to a galaxy far, far away with Star Wars favourite

An excerpt of "Cantina Band" by John Williams from Star Wars, from Proms Encore Episode 4

Proms Encore, on BBC Two Saturday evenings during the festival, delivered special Bandstand performances over the course of the season, along them harpist Rosanna Rolton playing Debussy's Valse Romantique and soprano Nadine Benjamin teaming up with beatboxer Jason Singh.

We were also transported to a galaxy far, far away with a performance of Cantina Band by John Williams from Star Wars by players from the London Contemporary Orchestra.

We took a trip back to the Summer of 69

The Sound of a Summer

Archive footage with soundtrack from 1969: The Sound of a Summer, Prom 11, 2019 Season

1969 was a year that will forever be remembered, a period of huge social change, heartache and turmoil as well as major human advancement with the Apollo 11 mission.

It was also a landmark year for music, as shown vividly in Prom 11, with Stephen Bell leading the BBC Concert Orchestra for performances of classic tracks of the time and the music that would soundtrack the era-defining Woodstock festival. Think David Bowie, Harry Nilsson, Marvin Gaye and, of course, The Beatles, who released their final album Abbey Road that same year.

We were treated to a Beatles classic

Shanghai Symphony Orchestra plays Hey Jude

Shanghai Symphony Orchestra plays Hey Jude

The Proms debut from the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra was always going to be a headline-grabbing affair. Founded in 1879, they're China's oldest symphony orchestra, and performed the score for the Oscar-winning 2000 film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

But to mark the occasion, after performing works by Mozart and Rachmaninov, they decided to treat us to something entirely unexpected: a spine-tingling version of The Beatles' Hey Jude, which they described as a "little gift, dedicated to the UK". The crowd were more than happy with the surprise!

The Nina Simone Prom was triumphant

Nina Simone tribute Prom highlights mix

A montage of magical moments from "Mississippi Goddam", the Nina Simone Tribute Concert.

Prom 45 celebrated the great musical legacy of one Eunice Kathleen Waymon, otherwise known as late jazz icon Nina Simone, with a tribute concert led by Jules Buckley and the Metropole Orkest, and featuring singers Ledisi and Lisa Fischer.

Including classic songs like Feeling Good, My Baby Just Cares for Me and I Put a Spell on You, it reminded us of the brilliance in abundance of Miss Simone's repertoire.

We reconnected with nature

The Lost Words Prom: The Lark Ascending, by Vaughan Williams

With Stephanie Childress (violin) and Indigo Griffiths (spoken word)

Writer Robert Macfarlane and artist Jackie Morris were spurred into creating their magical book, The Lost Words, by the exclusion of once familiar nature words like fern, otter and starling from a children's dictionary. Prom 49 took the book as inspiration for a concert celebrating the rich musical landscape of nature, and warning of its fragility.

No such concert would be complete without the hugely popular tone-poem, The Lark Ascending, by Vaughan Williams. It's a shimmering paean to the skylark and its song – it feels as if our human souls take flight with it over the pastoral landscape. In this extract, you'll hear the skylark's song, Vaughan Williams's music, and Robert Macfarlane's poem about the lark.

Modern life is so fast-paced that it's hard sometimes to take a moment to breathe, relax and decompress. The Late-Night Mixtape Prom, however, was intended as an antidote to this, taking inspiration from the spirit of the mixtape and splicing together a flurry of great Minimalist works, providing a chance to reflect and a much-needed wind-down.

We were blown away by Bach's organ masterpiece

JS Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D minor: The Headphones Mix

Listen to a special immersive recording of a live performance from the BBC Proms 2019.

The Toccata and Fugue in D minor is Bach’s most universally recognised organ work, due not only to its status as a favourite among organists and their listeners but also to its appearance in over 80 feature films, TV series and animations, including Walt Disney’s Fantasia (1940) in which Leopold Stokowski, egged on by Mickey Mouse, performed his own grand orchestral transcription of it, with the Philadelphia Orchestra.

Bach's organ music can be performed as what's been called 'lean Bach' or 'tubby Bach' – this suggests that the music works brilliantly on both small church organs and big concert instruments. And they don't come much bigger than the Royal Albert Hall's huge Henry Willis organ; with its 9,997 pipes, it’s known as 'The Voice of Jupiter' and it’s played here, in Prom 21, by the brilliant Olivier Latry, one of the organists at Notre Dame in Paris.

Last Night finished the season on a high

A jaunty digest of Last Night of the Proms squeezed into one minute

An executive summary in video of the planet's biggest classical music party.

After 58 days, 85 concerts, 191 conductors and 83 orchestras, choirs and ensembles, the Proms 2019 season came to a close with Last Night of the Proms. One of the highlights on the night, a truly iconic moment, came when star-of-the-show Jamie Barton sang Rule, Britannia! and triumphantly held the LGBTQ+ rainbow flag aloft at the end of her performance, to the audience’s great delight.

After even more Proms 2019 highlights? Watch this handy video:

Four scintillating minutes from a glorious summer of music at the BBC Proms 2019

Watch highlights from the 2019 season of the BBC Proms