BBC Proms announce 2020 season of live and archive concerts

As well as broadcasting old favourites, this year's Proms season will include premieres of works by Thomas Adès and Andrea Tarrodi, as well as a run of live concerts at the Royal Albert Hall, culminating in a Last Night conducted by Dalia Stasevska

BBC Proms 2020 Launch Image
Published: July 3, 2020 at 12:02 am
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The BBC has announced its line-up for this year’s BBC Proms, which will take place from 17 July to 12 September. The final fortnight of the 125th-anniversary season of the Proms will see artists including Sheku and Isata Kanneh-Mason, Anoushka Shankar and the London Symphony Orchestra under Simon Rattle back in the Royal Albert Hall for a series of live concert broadcasts.


The BBC Symphony Orchestra will open and close this two-week live concert series in the usual Proms tradition, with the 'first night' led by chief conductor Sakari Oramo on Friday 28 August. Principal guest conductor Dalia Stasevska will become the second woman in Proms history to conduct the Last Night, accompanied by soprano Golda Schultz. Stasevska made her Proms debut last year, having recently been also announced as the next chief conductor of the Lahti Symphony Orchestra in Finland.

Prom25_CR_BBC Chris Christodoulou_ (5)
Conductor Dalia Stasevska at the 2019 BBC Proms

The orchestras also scheduled to appear during these two weeks include the Aurora Orchestra led by Nicholas Collon, the Britten Sinfonia under Jules Buckley – who will be joined by electronic artist Gold Panda – and the London Symphony Orchestra with Simon Rattle, who will perform with pianist Mitsuko Uchida.

Other artists on the line-up include singers Sophie Bevan, Allan Clayton and Robert Murray, pianist Stephen Hough and sitar player Anoushka Shankar. Brother-and-sister duo Sheku and Isata Kanneh-Mason will perform a recital for cello and piano, and violinists Nicola Benedetti and Alina Ibragimova will join the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and Jonathan Cohen.

Prom 41: Philip Glass and Ravi Shankar; The Britten Sinfonia conducted by Karen Kamensek are joined by Shankar’s daughter, sitar virtuoso Anoushka Shankar, at the Royal Albert Hall, on Tuesday 15 Aug. 2017. Photo by Mark Allan
Anoushka Shankar at the 2017 BBC Proms

Included in the programmes for these live concerts will be premieres of new works by Thomas Adès, Andrea Tarrodi and Richard Ayres.

It is unlikely that there will be an audience at the Royal Albert Hall, with the concerts broadcast on radio and TV instead.

The final line-up is yet to be announced, ‘to allow for utmost flexibility in responding to the safety guidelines at the time.’

The first six weeks of the season will feature BBC Proms Classics programmes on BBC Four every Sunday with Katie Derham. This series will include archive broadcasts including the Chineke! Orchestra’s 2017 debut Prom, the 2012 John Wilson Prom titled ‘The Broadway Sound’ and the first ever TV broadcast of the Radio 1 Ibiza Prom in 2015, featuring DJ Pete Tong with the Heritage Orchestra under Jules Buckley. The 2002 Prom with the National Youth Orchestra and Simon Rattle will also be broadcast, as will the 2007 Proms debut of the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra, the first South American orchestra to perform at the BBC Proms.

There will be an accompanying Sunday evening magazine programme on BBC Radio 3 hosted by Georgia Mann, who will be joined by guests and former Proms artists to reflect on performances from history.

The First Night of the Proms will feature a new work by Iain Farrington for the BBC Grand Virtual Orchestra, a selection of over 350 musicians from the BBC Orchestras and Choirs, who have recorded their parts remotely. The piece has been referred to as a ‘mash-up’ of all Beethoven’s nine symphonies, in celebration of the great composer’s 250th anniversary.

‘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.’

Accompanying Farrington’s piece will be highlights from three Proms from the festival's recent history: Igor Levit’s 2017 performance of Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3 with the BBC Symphony Orchestra; Claudio Abbado’s final Proms performance in 2007, in which he led Mahler’s Third Symphony with mezzo-soprano Anna Larsson and the Lucerne Festival Orchestra; and the 1995 Last Night of the Proms performance of Harrison Birtwistle’s Panic.

This opening weekend will conclude with the much talked-about Prom from 2017 featuring the premiere of Gerald Barry’s Canada, performed by Allan Clayton with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra under Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla.


Other highlights throughout the first six weeks of the Proms season will include the 1987 performance of works by Mozart and Mahler by the Vienna Philharmonic under Leonard Bernstein, as well as Jessye Norman’s premiere of Judith Weir’s in 2000 with the London Sinfonietta.


Freya ParrDigital Editor and Staff Writer, BBC Music Magazine

Freya Parr is BBC Music Magazine's Digital Editor and Staff Writer. She has also written for titles including the Guardian, Circus Journal, Frankie and Suitcase Magazine, and runs The Noiseletter, a fortnightly arts and culture publication. Freya's main areas of interest and research lie in 20th-century and contemporary music.

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