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What's new and extraordinary in the BBC Proms 2018 season

BBC Proms Season Launch 2018

Celebrate the launch of the 2018 season of the world’s largest classical music festival.

From Bach to Bernstein via Buckley’s New York Disco

The BBC Proms is an annual festival consisting of more than 90 concerts over eight weeks every summer of world-class performances by the planet's greatest classical musicians.

The Proms aims to bring the best of classical music to the widest possible audience:

  • for those coming to the concerts in person – more than 100,000 tickets available at under £15, Promming (standing tickets) costing just £6 and half price seats for under 18s for those. Most concerts take place at London's Royal Albert Hall.

> Tickets information

  • for millions of others through BBC TV, online platforms and BBC Radio 3, where every note is broadcast.

> Proms on TV & Radio

Director of the BBC Proms talks about the season

BBC Proms Director David Pickard on the 2018 Proms season

BBC Proms Director David Pickard on what makes the Proms so special and what to expect.

Special events this season

The 2018 Proms marks a range of musical anniversaries.

Leonard Bernstein, born 1918, was one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century.

His work as conductor, composer, pianist, and educationalist are explored in depth this season.

John Wilson leads performances of West Side Story, arguably the best-loved musical of all time, and also his 1944 production On the Town.

As a tribute to Bernstein's educational work on TV, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Joshua Weilerstein explore ‘The Sound of an Orchestra’ in a unique event with creative direction from Gerard McBurney and projection design by Mike Tutaj. Audiences will be treated to a vivid tapestry of words, projections and music.

The August bank-holiday weekend will feature a Proms debut for the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra under Music Director Marin Alsop, a former student of Bernstein.

Listen to Marin Alsop talking about Bernstein on Radio 4's Front Row

100 years since the end of the First World War

A contemporary response by one of today’s most imaginative and eclectic young composers, Anna Meredith, in collaboration with 59 Productions, sees a major new work for orchestra, choir and projections premiered on the First Night of the Proms.

Jointly commissioned by the BBC Proms, 14–18 NOW and Edinburgh International Festival, Five Telegrams explores the varied forms of communication from the Front Lines, and draws on the talents of both the BBC Proms Youth Ensemble and the National Youth Choir of Great Britain.

Women composers

Anna Meredith is one of 22 women composers championed by the Proms this summer as the festival reflects on Parliament’s 1918 decision to grant the vote to women aged 30 and over.

Roxanna Panufnik receives the coveted Last Night of the Proms commission, as women composers feature in two of the most significant events in the classical music calendar.

As part of the Proms Chamber Music series, eight women, never previously commissioned by the BBC, receive world premieres, including Laura Mvula and Bushra El-Turk.

The Proms also pays tribute to the French composer, Lili Boulanger, who died at age 24 in 1918, the same year as Debussy's death.

Young musicians

As BBC Young Musician celebrates its 40th birthday, the Proms present the first ever Young Musician Prom, a gala concert bringing together over 20 of the competition’s alumni, including Nicola Benedetti, Michael Collins and Sheku Kanneh-Mason.

This comes alongside a celebration of the BBC Proms Inspire scheme for young composers in its 20th-birthday year, and the fourth consecutive BBC Ten Pieces Prom.

A ground-breaking initiative that has already reached over 4 million people, this summer it collaborates with English Pen, an arts charity that works with young people from asylum-seeker and refugee backgrounds, and London Music Masters, an organisation focused on reaching children and young people in London’s poorest neighbourhoods.

The BBC Proms Youth Choir takes up residency in the North East as it prepares for a performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony.

Passionate about providing opportunities for young performers and encouraging the next generation of classical musicians, the BBC Proms sees over 1,500 young artists take to the Royal Albert Hall stage this summer.

Late nights

Nine Late Night Proms contain an eclectic range of musical styles that reflect the more intimate setting of these ‘after-hours’ events.

Highlights include the Proms debut of Grammy Award-winning Senegalese singer, Youssou Ndour and his band, Le Super Étoile de Dakar, while original members of the Buena Vista Social Club come to the Royal Albert Hall stage for the first time too for ‘Havana Meets Kingston’, a project fusing the sound-worlds of traditional and contemporary Cuba and Jamaica.

In ‘New York: Sound of a City’, Proms favourite Jules Buckley and a line-up of rising stars explore the current sounds on New York’s streets, embracing everything from disco-punk to feminist rap.

Also in the Late Night series, Sir András Schiff concludes a two-year project with a performance of Book 2 of J. S. Bach’s The Well-Tempered Clavier.

New music

42 premieres will be heard across the summer.

The Swedish Chamber Orchestra gives two Proms in one day, presenting Bach’s six Brandeburg Concertos alongside six newly commissioned companion works by Uri Caine, Brett Dean, Anders Hillborg, Olga Neuwirth, Steven Mackey and Mark-Anthony Turnage, creating a brand-new musical cycle spanning almost three centuries.

Relaxed Prom

The second Relaxed Prom will offer an informal environment for all to experience a world-class music event. The Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra will be joined by its disabled-led ensemble BSO Resound and director James Rose.

This Prom marks the first major UK performance by this pioneering ensemble, which is forging the way for extraordinary musicians with disability.

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The printed guide is available to buy and includes full concert listings, ticket information, and articles offering more insights into the music, artists and themes of the festival.

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