The best BBC Proms from an overwhelming 2019 line-up
Everyone knows about the flag-waving gimmickry of the Last Night of the Proms, but we’re here to argue the case that the 70+ Proms that precede this might be even more worth your time.
Everyone knows about the flag-waving gimmickry of the Last Night of the Proms, but we’re here to argue the case that the 70+ Proms that precede this might be even more worth your time. The programme is long and stressful, so here are some of our recommendations for any Proms newcomers.
Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra’s chief conductor Kirill Karabits
Holst’s The Planets. If you haven’t heard it, it’s the perfect entry point to classical music for those who find themselves tapping their toes along to the soundtracks of Star Wars and such other cinematic larks. It’s dramatic and fabulous. Barber’s Violin Concerto is also on the menu in this Prom, which is sumptuous and downright glorious. It’s all rounded off with a nice dose of contemporary composer John Adams’s racy four-minute rollercoaster, Short Ride in a Fast Machine. The Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra are at the helm of this fun-filled programme, so you’ll be in safe hands.
Public Service Broadcasting
Public Service Broadcasting are performing their studio album The Race for Space live at this Late Night Prom. They’ll be joined by the Multi-Storey Orchestra, a really unusual ensemble renowned for performing in wacky and unusual venues. If you’re not fancying the stuffiness of Mozart or the relentlessness of Rachmaninov, this might be the Prom for you.
Violinist Nicola Benedetti
Nicola Benedetti is one of this country’s best violinists, and she really is spectacular to watch. She’ll be performing Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto — one of classical music’s most impressive concertos. Continuing in the spirit of Russian melodrama, you’ll hear extracts from Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet. Ballet is the perfect way to access orchestral music — particularly by any Russian, they know what they’re doing — and this is a real beauty.
Conductor John Wilson with the cleverly named John Wilson Orchestra
John Wilson is a bit of a Proms legend, returning year on year with his orchestra to perform classic hits from the worlds of stage and screen. This year, he’s bringing scores from the Golden Age of Hollywood, so here’s the chance to head back to the early 20th-century and kick back with a few great vintage sweeping cinematic tunes. Best enjoyed with a plastic cup of vintage champagne.
Vienna Philharmonic with conductor (and love of our lives) Simon Rattle
The Vienna Philharmonic is the best orchestra in the world. We say that with confidence, and implore anyone to suggest otherwise. So, why not make this your first Proms trip? Dvořák’s ‘New World’ Symphony is one of our all-time favourites. With emotional highs and lows to keep you firmly on the edge of your seat, this piece is a fabulous introduction to orchestral music. It’ll be accompanied by the Korngold Violin Concerto. Korngold was a big film composer in his day, and you can get a real glimpse of that side to his writing in this opulent, glossy and rich slice of stupendousness. Enough adjectives? Probably not.
Composer and guitarist Jonny Greenwood
Heard of Jonny Greenwood? That chap from Radiohead? Well, he’s a bit of a classical music chap nowadays. He’s curating his first Prom this year, and it’s firmly on our bucket list. Opening with a gloriously understated Baroque work for violin, it moves into a sinfonietta for strings by Penderecki, one of our greatest living composers and a total badass. There’s two works by Greenwood himself, which are definitely worth checking out, as well as a minimalist work by Steve Reich so edgy and electronic in sound that you’ll be lusting for a can of Red Stripe and the nearest tie-dye top.