Rhinegold Photo credit: Les Gibbon/BBC
Stage@TheDock, Hull

Katy Wright

Deputy Editor, Classical Music

Proms 2017: more new venues, politics and religion, and tributes to Sargent

2:00, 20th April 2017

In addition to its core Royal Albert Hall programme and chamber music series in Cadogan Hall, the 2017 season (14 July – 9 September) will see Proms concerts take place at five different venues.

The Proms will return to Bold Tendencies Multi-Storey Car Park for a performance by the Multi-Story Orchestra featuring works by Bach, Kate Whitley and John Adams. It will also visit four new venues, including Stage@TheDock in Hull, UK City of Culture 2017, where a performance of Handel’s Water Music will take place. The other three new venues are in London: BBC Singers will perform Palestrina and Judith Weir in Southwark Cathedral; Sian Edwards will conduct the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group in a celebration of birdsong at Wilton’s Music Hall; and the London Contemporary Orchestra will present new and experimental music at The Tanks, Tate Modern.

This year’s season will contain a strand of concerts exploring how politics and religion have inspired and influenced composers across the ages. This will include a concert of Indian and Pakistani classical music, which will celebrate the 70th anniversary of partition and independence on the Indian subcontinent, and an exploration of works by Sibelius and traditional Finnish folk music, marking the 100th anniversary of Finnish Independence.

The theme also encompasses two major series celebrating the centenary of the 1917 Russian Revolution and the quincentenary of the Protestant Reformation. The former will be marked with a series of concerts focusing on the composers whose lives and music were influenced by the Revolution, with a performance of Shostakovich’s symphonic poem October and excerpts from his Ten Poems on Texts by Revolutionary Poets; Prokofiev’s Cantata for the 20th Anniversary of the October Revolution and rarely heard cantata Seven, They Are Seven; and Rachmaninov’s All-Night Vigil (Vespers).

Programming marking the 500th anniversary of the Reformation will be concentrated around a study day curated by John Butt. The event will explore music inspired by the event, including chorale preludes performed by organists William Whitehead and Robert Quinney; a survey of five centuries of Passion settings with the BBC Singers conducted by Sofi Jeannin; and a complete performance of J. S. Bach’s St John Passion with a chance for the audience to join in selected chorales. There will also be a Late Night concert of Lutheran cantatas by Bach and psalm-settings by Schütz performed by Sir John Eliot Gardiner, the Monteverdi Choir and English Baroque Soloists, and a performance of Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 5 in D major (‘Reformation’).

The Proms will also celebrate the birthdays of John Adams (70), Philip Glass (80) and John Williams (85), with performances of Adams’ work across the season, a concert Williams’ best-loved film scores, and the first complete live performance of Glass and Ravi Shankar’s 1990 studio album Passages, and will commemorate the 450th anniversary of the birth of Monteverdi with a performance of the Vespers of 1610 by Pygmalion and Raphaël Pichon, and a Proms Chamber Music concert from I Fagiolini.

The season contains a number of ‘firsts’, including Proms debuts from Chineke! and 2016 BBC Young Musician Sheku Kanneh-Mason, and the inaugural Relaxed Prom, which will create an informal environment suitable for everyone, from children and adults with autism, sensory and communication impairments and learning disabilities to individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing, blind and partially sighted.

The 2017 season will also see the launch of two multi-year series – Handel’s oratorios, beginning with Israel in Egypt, and Sir András Schiff’s presentation of Bach’s The Well-Tempered Clavier (with the first book performed this year, and the second in 2018) – as well as the continuation of Sir John Eliot Gardiner’s exploration of Berlioz, with a performance of The Damnation of Faust.

Sir Mark Elder and the Hallé will present a Beyond the Score concert:  in a multimedia exploration of Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9 (‘From the New World’), devised by Gerard McBurney, combining actors, projections and live musical examples.

Tom Service and Nicholas Collon will introduce Beethoven’s ‘Eroica’ symphony, with Aurora Orchestra providing live excerpts before performing the complete symphony from memory, and Sir Mark Elder and the Hallé will present a Beyond the Score® concert: a multimedia exploration of Dvořák’s ninth symphony, combining actors, projections and live musical examples.

The Proms will pay tribute to conductor Malcolm Sargent, marking the 50th anniversary of his death with a recreation of his 500th Proms concert and a Last Night tribute, and will give a nod to Proms founder-conductor Henry Wood with ‘Ten Pieces Presents … Sir Henry’s Magnificent Musical Inspirations!’, featuring an array of young artists.

Other highlights include two semi-staged performances of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Oklahoma! from John Wilson and his orchestra; an Elgar symphony cycle, including Anthony Payne’s completion of the unfinished third; and a performance in which the BBC Proms Youth Ensemble will join the Bang on a Can All-Stars and their six-piece amplified ensemble for a concert of avant-garde Minimalism, rock and funk.

Season and weekend passes will go on sale at 9am on 11 May and general booking opens on at 9am on 13 May.


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