This year’s BBC Proms kicks off on Friday 17 July, with the launch of six weeks of highlights of archive Proms from history broadcast on BBC Radio 3 and BBC Four.
The First Night will feature the world premiere of a new work by Iain Farrington, Genius Never Dies, written for the newly formed BBC Grand Virtual Orchestra, which is made up of around 350 players from the various BBC Orchestras. The work has been referred to as a ‘mash-up’ of Beethoven’s nine symphonies.
‘I took Beethoven’s music and put it in a musical washing machine to see how the colours would run’, Farrington told BBC Music Magazine. ‘What’s come out is a collage of fragments that sum up his music: heroic, witty, defiant, turbulent, tragic and reflective.’
The First Night will also feature a selection of archive Proms, including pianist Igor Levit’s performance of Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3 with the BBC Symphony Orchestra under conductor Edward Gardner from the 2017 First Night of the Proms.
The premiere of Harrison Birtwistle’s Panic – performed by the BBC Symphony Orchestra under Andrew Davis at the 1995 Last Night of the Proms – will also be rebroadcast, along with the 2007 Proms performance of Mahler’s Third Symphony, led by Claudio Abbado and featuring the Lucerne Festival Orchestra, London Symphony Chorus, Trinity Boys Choir and mezzo-soprano Anna Larsson as soloist. This was Abbado’s final Proms performance before his death in 2014.