The Proms kick off on 19 July, launching a season to suit a multitude of tastes. Alongside core rep, the festival has been known to venture into the world of unconventionality: past events have included comedy proms, electronic proms and British folk music proms. This year is no different: from music inspired by the natural world to sci-fi film soundtracks, the wide diversity of events ensures a concert for everyone. Formatting varies too, with concerts that encourage audience movement, make use of dancers and have sign language interpreters. The musical palette has never been wider – so we’ve picked seven of the more unusual stand-out events from this year’s line-up.
Enthusiastic about bringing new audiences to classical music, the kids’ division of the BBC will be putting on a Prom during the opening weekend of the series to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Moon landings. With music from Benjamin Britten and Hans Zimmer, Europe’s first majority Black and Minority Ethnic orchestra – Chineke! – will feature alongside several Cbeebies stars. Also not to be missed… a meeting with the Clangers.
Date: Performed twice, Sunday 21 July and Monday 22 July
Time: 11am (both)
Prom Number: 3 and 5
The Relaxed Prom
Concerts can be intimidating experiences for those with autism, sensory or communication disabilities. This concert offers an informal, friendly atmosphere where you can move about, dance or sing with chill-out spaces outside the auditorium. This unconventional format will include audio description, as well as British Sign Language interpretation, with performances including Rachmaninov’sRhapsody on a Theme of Paganini and excerpts from Tchaikovsky’sSwan Lake.
Date: Tuesday 6 August
Prom Number: 24
The Nature Prom
This Prom is centred around the bestselling book The Lost Words by Robert Macfarlane, in which he seeks to restore disappearing words describing the natural world. As well as new words from the book’s author, there will be live painting from Jackie Morris (creator of the book’s original artwork) and musical birdsong passages from Beethoven’sPastoral Symphony, Rautavaara’s Cantus arcticus and Vaughan Williams’ The Lark Ascending. With performances from beatboxer Jason Singh, this Prom guarantees a unique experience.
In the last decade of his life, Duke Ellington wrote a series of Sacred Concerts, which he himself described as ‘the most important thing I have ever done’. Combining jazz and spirituality, the concerts aired in the late 1960s and from them spawned three energetic albums. Drawing on these, the Proms are premiering a brand-new Sacred concert, where the legendary musician’s creativity and vigour will manifest in a vibrant melange of big-band jazz and gospel, promising an evening of dance and song. With tap dancing performances, Monty Alexander on piano and vocals from BBC Singers, this concert will bring a modern dynamism to Christian themes.
Date: Thursday 29 August
Prom Number: 54
The Hollywood Prom
Ten years after their first Proms appearance, conductor John Wilson and his orchestra return to host a concert brimming with powerful Warner Bros. film scores from the Golden Age of Hollywood. With pieces from classics such as The Sea Hawk, My Fair Lady and A Streetcar Named Desire, audiences will be plunged back to a time when sweeping orchestral soundtracks defined the atmosphere of film music.
Date: Friday 9 August
Time: Performed twice, 3pm and 7.30pm
Prom Number: 29 and 30
The Breakdancing Music Prom
A dive into ‘the breaks’ – the beat-driven music that has inspired scratch DJs and breakdancing for over 40 years – is the exciting theme for this Prom. As one of the four main elements of hip-hop – along with MCing, DJing and graffiti – breaking has grown into a worldwide sensation, enjoyed by people of all ages and cultures. Involving performances from Soul Mavericks and Mr Switch, this Prom explores the heritage of breaking and its legacy on music today.
Date: Friday 6 September
Prom Number: 64
The Sci-Fi Film Music Prom
This Late Night Prom has a futuristic twist, combining some of the greatest pieces from science fiction soundtracks for an exhilarating evening. The London Contemporary Orchestra, whose collaborators span from Radiohead to Steve Reich, will be performing music from Gravity and Alien: Covenant among others, which will include score extracts by Hans Zimmer and Mica Levi. For film music fans, this one is not to be missed – airing Friday 9 August at 22:15.