Thursday, 18 April 2019

Launching the BBC Proms with beatboxing and Jacob Handl

Launch of the 2019 BBC Proms in the Grand Hall of Battersea Arts Centre
Launch of the 2019 BBC Proms in the Grand Hall of Battersea Arts Centre
The programme for the 2019 BBC Proms has been announced, and last night the BBC had a launch event in the Grand Hall of Battersea Arts Centre (devastated by fire in 2015 and magnificently restored by architects Haworth Tompkins). There were introductions from Alan Davey, Controller of Radio 3 (I liked his comment that the range of music being presented went from Perrotin to Thorvaldsdottir), David Pickard, director of the Proms, and Yolanda Brown from CBeebies.

Pickard explained that the big anniversary this year was the 150th anniversary of the birth of the founder of the Proms, Sir Henry Wood, and the 2019 programme is include 33 of the 717 novelties that he was responsible for introducing into the UK (including works by Janacek and Schoenberg). Wood was aware that Proms with popular works drew the largest audience and used this to grow the audiences for the less well known pieces, something which still applies today. The BBC took over the Proms as long ago as 1927 (!) and the combination of the two organisations made sense in terms of the Reithian value placed on education, and the fact that by broadcasting the Proms the BBC widened the access to them, making them less London-centred and less elitist, all you needed was a wireless.

Jayson Singh and members of Solomon's Knot performing at BAC for the BBC Proms launch
Jayson Singh and members of Solomon's Knot performing at BAC for the BBC Proms launch
There were performances from artists who are appearing at the Proms this year. First of all four members of Solomon's Knot (Zoe Brookshaw, Kate Symonds Joy, Ruari Bowen and Jonathan Sells) sang Jacob Handl's Ecce Quamodo, the motet with which they had finished their performance of Bach's St John Passion at the Wigmore Hall the previous night [see my review]. The group is performing a programme of Bach at a late-night contrast. In complete contrast, beatboxer Jason Singh also did a short set (Singh is performing in the Prom which is being given at Battersea Arts Centre), then at the end Solomon's Knot and Singh combined forces to striking effect, mixing Handl with beatboxing.

Full details of the 2019 BBC Proms are at the Proms website.

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