Complete details of the 2018 BBC Proms season have been officially released. Highlights of this, the 124th, season include celebrations of the anniversaries of Debussy, Parry, Lili Boulanger and Bernstein, visits from leading overseas orchestras including the Berlin Philharmonic, a wealth of new commissions and a reflection on 100 years since the end of the First World War.
This year’s festival kicks off on Friday 13 July, when the BBC Symphony Orchestra’s chief conductor leads his orchestra in an all-British programme of Vaughan Williams’s Towards the Unknown Region, Holst’s The Planets and 59 Telegrams, a new work by Anna Meredith and 59 Productions that draws on communications sent by soldiers in the WWI trenches.
Rounding of the eight-week season, meanwhile, will be one of Sakari Oramo’s predecessors at the BBC Symphony Orchestra, Sir Andrew Davis, who on Saturday 8 September conducts a Last Night featuring works including the world premiere of Roxanna Panufnik’s Songs of Darkness, Dreams of Light. Panufnik and Meredith are just two of 24 women composers to have works performed at the BBC Proms this year.
Of the 88 concerts that lie between those two dates, one of the most eagerly anticipated will be on 1 September, when Kirill Petrenko, Sir Simon Rattle’s future successor as chief conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic, conducts the orchestra in Prokofiev’s Third Piano Concerto and Schmidt’s Fourth Symphony, with Yuja Wang as soloist in the Concerto. Petrenko and the Berliners return the following night for a concert of Richard Strauss and Beethoven.
Other visiting orchestras this year include the Boston Symphony, the Orchestra of the Academy of Santa Cecilia, Rome, and, making its first ever appearance at the BBC Proms, the Baltimore Symphony, conducted by its music director Marin Alsop.
Two major concerts mark what would have been the 100th birthday of Leonard Bernstein, who himself appeared at the Proms in 1987 and ’88 – on this occasion, John Wilson conducts performances of the great US composer and conductor’s West Side Story and On The Town. The centenary of the death of Debussy, meanwhile, is marked by performances of his opera Pelléas et Mélisande and orchestral work La mer.
Every BBC Prom, including the late-night and lunchtime concerts, will be aired live on BBC Radio 3 with several also being broadcast on BBC TV. For our in-depth guide to the whole season, keep and eye out for the July issue of BBC Music Magazine, on sale 14 June. In the meantime, for details of all the concerts, head to the BBC Proms website.