So this year's Proms will soon be upon us. The Proms brochure is now available and booking opens on May 12th. There are some interesting programmes and one or two OMG moments.
The first night opens the show with a 'relay' of 4 conductors in a programme which includes Tippett's Suite for the Birthday of Prince Charles and Elgar's Coronation Ode (the 1911 version). Along with Delius's Sea Drift and a new Mark-Anthony Turnage piece. All that plus Susan Gritton, Sarah Connolly, Robert Murray, Gerald Finley and Bryn Terfel! The next night John Wilson conducts a performance of My Fair Lady with Anthony Andrews as Professor Higgins! They will be using Andre Previn's orchestrations done for the 1964 film. Later in the season the Halle under Mark Elder are doing an evening of Ivor Novello with Sophie Bevan and Toby Spence.
Herve Niquet and Le Concert Spirituel have a late night, big baroque band (80 players) concert performing Handel's Water Music and Music for the Royal Fireworks. Then Laurence Cumming and OAE are doing Handel's Judas Maccabeus with John Mark Ainsley in the title role and a strong cast including Christopher Purves, Rosemary Joshua, Christine Rice and Tim Mead; definitely essential listening. The English Concert and Harry Bicket are doing Bach's Mass in B Minor, inevitably a big band version of this to fill the Albert Hall, I suppose. Bach's organ music features in two recitals on the RAH organ by Cameron Carpenter
In a late night Prom, Robert Hollingworth and I Fagiolini present 1612 Italian Vespers including the world premiere of Hugh Keyte's reconstruction of the 22 part version of Gabrieli's In ecclesiis.
More oratorio with Walton's Belshazzar's Feast with Jonathan Lemalu, Tadaaki Otaka and BBC National Orchestra of Wales; Tippett's Child of Our Time from the BBC Symphony Orchestra with a cast including Sarah Connolly, Paul Groves and Measha Brueggergosman Mark Elder and the Halle are performing Elgar's Apostles with a strong cast including Rebecca Evans, Alice Coote, Paul Groves, Jacques Imbrailo, Iain Paterson and Clive Bayley. Schoenberg's Gurrelieder from the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Jiri Belohlavek, with Angela Denoke and Simon O'Neill.
Berlioz's Grande Messe des Morts from the BBC National Orchestra of Wales under Thierry Fischer is one of the stand out events of the season and, alas, I'll miss it was we'll be out of the country!
As regards opera, most are companies bringing in work which has been seen elsewhere. John Eliot Gardiner is conducting Debussy's Pelleas et Melisande with a cast who have been performing the piece at the Opera Comique in Paris. The Royal Opera are doing Berlioz's Les Troyens with a cast including Jonas Kaufmann, Anna Caterina Anntonacci and Eva Maria Westbroek; a concert performance but the cast will have been singing in the Covent Garden staging of the work. And ENO are bringing their Peter Grimes with Edward Gardner conducting Stuart Skelton, Amanda Roocroft, Iain Paterson and a strong cast. Glyndebourne are bringing The Marriage of Figaro conducted by Robin Ticciati.
Two operatic performances are creations specially for the Proms. Jane Glover, no less, is conducting Sullivan's The Yeomen of the Guard in a staging by Martin Duncan with the BBC Concert Orchestra. A terrific cast includes Leih Melrose, Andrew Kennedy, Lisa Milne, Victoria Simmonds, Felicity Palmer, Tom Randle, Mark Stone and Toby Stafford-Allen. Essential listening I think and a welcome outing for an opera which has become something of a rarity. And John Adams will be conducting his own opera, Nixon in China, a cast including Kathleen Kim, Alan Oke and Gerald Finley will be directed by Paul Curran.
In the contemporary music vein John Adams will be conducting his own City Noir, in a programme which also includes Respighi and Ravel. Tenebrae are giving a programme which mixes Orlando Gibbons with ujlian Philips and Steve Martland; contrasting Gibbons's The Cryes of London with Martland's Street Songs. Joanna MacGregor is performing Hugh Wood's Piano Concerto (he is 80 this year amazingly), with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales under Thierry Fischer. Langgaard's 11th Symphony receives its UK premiere (all 5 minutes of it) and Per Norgaard's 7th Symphony also gets is UK premiere. The National Youth Orchestra give us a new Nico Muly piece plus Messiaen's Turangalila Symphony, under Vasily Petrenko, should be terrific.
The LPO under Vladimir Jurowksi give us Tchaikovsky's Manfred plus Mahler's Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen with Alice Coote. Gergiev and the LSO give us Prokofiev's Cinderella. Martyn Brabbins conducts the BBC Symphony Orchestra in Howells Hymnus Paradisi and Elgar's 1st Symphony.
The National Youth Orchestra of Wales plus all sorts of other Welsh youth groups are performing Bernstein's Mass, not a work I feel attracted to but all those young people on stage should be infection in the enthusiasm. James MacMillan's Credo will get its premiere from the BBC Philharmonic; a bit work, it lasts around 25 minutes and is a BBC commission. The BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and Exaudi under Ilan Volkov give us a nearly all John Cage programme to mark his centenary. Oliver Knussen conducts his own 3rd Symphony in a programme with the BBC Symphony Orchestra which includes Debussy's Martyrdom of St. Sebastian, being played complete for the first time at the Proms. Eric Whitacre conducts a late night Prom centred on his own choral music. Sir Peter Maxwell Davies's 9th Symphony gets its London premiere from the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic.
The Proms chamber music series has some terrific concerts. Alice Coote is giving a recital of French song, Mahan Esfahani doing Bach's The Art of Fugue, L'Arpeggiata present us with a sequence of music based on the tarantella; the Escher Quartet are pairing Debussy with Hugh Wood.
And the last night? Tenor Joseph Calleja does the honours, mixing operatic arias with operetta.