BBC Proms 2020: Your guide to what’s streaming when
Staff Reporter | On 03, Jul 2020Reading time: 13 mins
The BBC has officially unveiled its line-up for the 2020 Proms and the annual classical music event will be going ahead online with plans to climax with live performances at the Royal Albert Hall.
Running from 17th July to 12th September, the season will bring together Proms past and present, celebrating everything from Bernstein to Benedetti.
BBC Radio 3 kicks off this year’s Fantasy Proms special season with the debut performance by the BBC Grand Virtual Orchestra, comprising over 350 musicians from the BBC Orchestras and Choirs. The Grand Virtual Orchestra will perform a completely original arrangement of Beethoven’s nine symphonies, created by Iain Farrington. On Sunday 19th July the premiere of the film accompanying the piece will air on BBC Four.
Farrington describes the work as “taking Beethoven’s music and putting it in a musical washing machine to see which colours run”. The Opening Weekend continues on BBC Four on Sunday 19th July, when audiences will have the opportunity to watch electrifying conductor Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla lead the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra in a programme of Beethoven, Stravinsky and Gerald Barry with violinist Leila Josefowicz and tenor Allan Clayton (2017).
Throughout the summer, BBC Radio 3 and BBC Four will be broadcasting archive performances from the past 30 years of the Proms, building up to two weeks of live performances at the Royal Albert Hall.
BBC Four, fronted by Katie Derham, will broadcast BBC Proms Classics, a range of blockbuster archive concerts each Sunday. The TV offering reflects innovative highlights such as the 2017 debut of Chineke! Orchestra, Europe’s first majority BME orchestra and the now-legendary 2007 Proms debut of the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela conducted by Gustavo Dudamel. BBC Four will also air the ground-breaking 2012 John Wilson Orchestra Prom that celebrated The Broadway Sound sending the orchestra to new heights.
On BBC Radio 3, presenter Georgia Mann will host a Sunday evening programme that looks ahead to each week’s array of archive Proms. She’ll be joined by a selection of guests to preview the vintage performances, to recall behind-the-scenes stories of the concerts and to recommend highlights to look out for. Across the season, Radio 3 has also curated an array of archive performances, while the Afternoon Concert series on BBC Radio 3 will also feature some of the greatest Proms of the past 25 years.
This year also sees the first ever TV broadcast of the hugely popular Radio 1 Ibiza Prom from 2015, featuring Pete Tong, Jules Buckley and the Heritage Orchestra, who transformed dance classics into orchestral masterpieces with the help of John Newman and Ella Eyre (BBC Four, Friday 28th August).
In the final two weeks of the Proms, from Friday 28th August, there will be a series of live performances from the Royal Albert Hall, although no live audiences are expected. Instead, they will be broadcast live on BBC Radio 3, BBC Four and iPlayer. The presenting team for the live TV performances includes Katie Derham, along with Tom Service, Suzy Klein, Danielle de Niese and Josie d’Arby.
The full schedule of artists and programmes will be announced nearer the time of the performances to allow for flexibility in responding to the safety guidelines at the time. At present, the line-up includes pianist Mitsuko Uchida with the London Symphony Orchestra and Sir Simon Rattle, violinists Nicola Benedetti and Alina Ibragimova with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment under Jonathan Cohen, a recital from cello sensation Sheku Kanneh-Mason and his pianist sister Isata Kanneh-Mason, Aurora Orchestra led by Nicholas Collon, performances from pianist Stephen Hough, singers Sophie Bevan, Allan Clayton and Robert Murray and sitar virtuoso Anoushka Shankar with electronic artist Gold Panda and the Britten Sinfonia under Jules Buckley.
Each of the BBC Orchestras will perform as part of the live element of the festival, with the BBC Symphony Orchestra will open and close the series, beginning with an opening night conducted by Chief Conductor, Sakari Oramo, and culminating in a Last Night of the Proms. Led by the BBC SO’s Principal Guest Conductor, Dalia Stasevska, the 2020 Last Night of the Proms features soprano Golda Schultz.
New Music is central to the Proms and a number of composers will be commissioned to write works that respond to the current worldwide situation caused by Covid-19. Composers include Thomas Adès writing a new piece for the LSO Prom and Andrea Tarrodi for the Last Night of the Proms and Richard Ayres exploring Beethoven’s journey into deafness, as well as his own hearing loss, with a personal new work for Aurora Orchestra.
And, after the success of the BBC Ten Pieces at Home initiative, families will be able to experience Proms at Home by taking part in free activities built around selected Proms broadcasts, as well as upload their creative results to be featured on the Proms website. The deadline for the BBC Young Composer competition for 12 to 18-year olds has also been extended until 20th July and young composers can take part in the 30-Second Challenge until 31 August.
Proms 2020: The streaming schedule
Across six week, BBC Four will be broadcasting archive Proms concerts on Sundays. While Proms are normally available on BBC catch-up services for 30 days after broadcast, this year the season will remain online on both BBC Sounds and BBC iPlayer for 30 days after the Last Night concert on 12th September.
Proms on iPlayer: Archive concerts on-demand
The Bach Recitals: Alina Ibragimova Plays ViolinSonatas and Partitas – Part One
First transmitted in 2015. Russian violinist Alina Ibragimova performs 3 of Bach’s Sonatas and Partitas- Sonata No 1 in G Minor, Partita No 1 in B minor and Sonata No 2 in A minor
Shostakovich and Rachmaninov
First transmitted in 2018. The BBC Symphony Orchestra led by Karina Canellakis perform works from Beethoven, Rachmaninov, Shostakovich and Norman’s Spiral.
Michael Berkeley, Benjamin Britten and Vaughan Williams
First transmitted in 2005, the BBC National Orchestra of Wales performs works by Michael Berkeley, Benjamin Britten and Vaughan Williams.
Doctor Who at the Proms
First transmitted in 2013. Celebrating 50 years of Doctor Who with music from Murray Gold and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. Special guests and a host of monsters join in the fun.
First transmitted in 2016. Possibly the glitziest Prom ever, celebrating the music of dance, watch a host of Strictly Come Dancing professionals and the BBC Concert Orchestra.
Scott Walker Revisited
First transmitted in 2017. Jarvis Cocker leads a tribute to the 60s cult icon Scott Walker. Conductor Jules Buckley has arranged tracks from Walker’s four eponymous albums.
Philip Glass and Ravi Shankar
First transmitted in 2017. Ravi Shankar and Philip Glass’s 1989 album Passages is performed live and in full for the first time.
Pioneers of Sound
First transmitted in 2018. British composer Anna Meredith presents this special tribute to the pioneers of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, including Delia Derbyshire and Daphne Oram
Homage to Nina Simone
First transmitted in 2019. Clara Amfo introduces a celebration of jazz and blues legend Nina Simone with The Metropole Orkest led by Jules Buckley, Ledisi, Lisa Fisher and more.
Proms on BBC Four
Premiere: Beethoveniana – 7pm, Sun 19th Jul
The unique premiere of a commission by Iain Farrington to mark the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth. A new mash-up of Beethoven’s 9 symphonies, played by more than 350 musicians virtually together.
Beethoven’s Fifth with Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla and the CBSO (2017) – 7.05pm, Sun 19th Jul
The programme includes Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, Stravinsky’s Violin Concerto with soloist Leila Josefowicz, and the premiere of Gerald Barry’s Canada with soloist Allan Clayton.
The Broadway Sound: John Wilson and the John Wilson Orchestra (2012) – 7pm, Sun 26th Jul
Katie Derham is joined by soprano Elizabeth Llewellyn to relive her 2012 performance when she joined John Wilson and his orchestra to celebrate the sounds of Broadway.
Chineke! (2017) – Sun 2nd Aug
Formed less than two years ago, Chineke! is the UK’s first orchestra primarily made up of people of colour, and each item in their late night concert focused in one way or another on Black musicians. The programme included works by Pulitzer Prize-winning George Walker and young British composer Hannah Kendall, whose The Spark Catchers, while winner of the 2016 BBC Young Musician competition cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason, made his Proms debut playing Dvořák.
Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 (2002) – Sun 9th Aug
Sir Simon Rattle conducts the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain and massed choirs in Mahler’s epic Symphony No. 8 (‘Symphony of a Thousand’).
Martha Argerich (2016) – Sun 16th Aug
Martha Argerich with the West–Eastern Divan Orchestra and Daniel Barenboim present Jörg Widmann: Con brio, Liszt: Piano Concerto No. 1, Wagner: Tannhäuser and The Mastersingers – overtures, plus excerpts from Wagner: Götterdämmerung.
Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela (2007) – Sun 23rd Aug
Gustavo Dudamel conducts the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela (2007). Music from South America, plus Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 10
Late Night Proms on BBC Four
2015 Radio 1 Ibiza Prom – 31st July
The Late Night series launches with the first ever TV broadcast of the now iconic 2015 Radio 1 Ibiza Prom, featuring Pete Tong and Jules Buckley.
Radio 1Xtra Prom (2015) – 7th August
Celebrating grime and hip hop music and featuring Stormzy, Wretch 32, Little Simz and Krept & Konan with Jules Buckley and his Metropole Orkest.
Angélique Kidjo Prom (2019) – 21st August
‘The undisputed queen of African music’ and three-time Grammy Award-winner made her Proms debut in a tribute to salsa songstress Celia Cruz.
Stax tribute (2017) – 11th September
A tribute to soul label Stax, with Jools Holland and his Rhythm & Blues Orchestra, Booker T Jones, Sam Moore, Sir Tom Jones, William Bell, Steve Cropper and Eddie Floyd.
All concerts start at 7.30pm unless stated.
Fri 28th Aug – BBC Two
Sakari Oramo leads the BBC Symphony Orchestra for the first live Prom of the season. Beethoven’s epic ‘Eroica’ Symphony sits alongside Copland’s Quiet City, Eric Whitacre’s Sleep and a Basquiat-inspired world premiere from Hannah Kendall.
Sat 29th Aug – BBC iPlayer
Jonathan Scott takes control of the Royal Albert Hall’s mighty organ for a sonic extravaganza featuring his own ingenious arrangements of symphonic favourites. Works by Rossini, Elgar, Mascagni and Dukas lead to Saint-Saëns’s dramatic ‘Organ’ Symphony.
Sun 30th Aug – BBC Four
Sir Simon Rattle conducts the London Symphony Orchestra in a programme ranging from Elgar to Adès and Gabrieli to Kurtág. The climax is Vaughan Williams’s Fifth Symphony, a surprising oasis of serenity written at the height of the Second World War.
Mon 31st Aug – BBC iPlayer
Crack open the champagne and don your evening dress as the BBC Concert Orchestra host a night of Viennese operetta marking 150 years since the birth of Franz Lehár. Johann Strauss II and other contemporaries offer their own musical confections.
Tue 1st Sep – BBC iPlayer
Contemporary chamber ensemble the London Sinfonietta returns to the Royal Albert Hall
Wed 2nd Sep – BBC iPlayer
Omer Meir Wellber pulls the strings of his BBC Philharmonic in a Prom partly inspired by puppet theatre – including a new work by Berlin-based Uzbek composer Aziza Sadikova. Plus Britten’s Nocturne with tenor Allan Clayton and Haydn’s Symphony No. 80.
Thur 3rd Sep – BBC Four
Violinists Nicola Benedetti and Alina Ibragimova join period-instrument group the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment for a celebration of Baroque concertos.
Fri 4th Sep – BBC Four
Sitarist and composer Anoushka Shankar returns to the Proms presenting new collaborations – with electronic music producer Gold Panda, and with the strings of the Britten Sinfonia.
Sat 5th Sep – BBC iPlayer
Stephen Hough joins Thomas Dausgaard and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra in Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 2. Also featured are Richard Strauss’s Metamorphosen and a world premiere from Jay Capperauld.
Sun 6th Sep – BBC Four
Singer-songwriter Laura Marling is joined by pioneering London-based string group the 12 Ensemble for a set that includes songs from her Mercury Prize-nominated album Song for Our Daughter.
Mon 7th Sep – BBC iPlayer
A live performance from the Royal Albert Hall.
Tue 8th Sep – BBC iPlayer
A mostly American Prom taking in the influences of jazz and popular music alongside iconic classic works by Barber and Copland respectively evoking a balmy Tennessee night and Pennsylvanian pioneer settlers.
Wed 9th Sep – BBC iPlayer
Benjamin Grosvenor performs Shostakovich’s First Piano Concerto with the Philharmonia Orchestra and its Principal Conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen, bookended by Ravel’s neo-Baroque masterpiece Le tombeau de Couperin and Mozart’s titanic Symphony No. 41.
Thu 10th Sep – BBC Four
Radio 3’s Tom Service and Aurora Orchestra Principal Conductor Nicholas Collon introduce Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony, a work charged with dance rhythms, and British composer Richard Ayres’s new work that explores the effects of hearing loss.
Fri 11th Sep – BBC Four
Star British cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason and pianist Isata Kanneh-Mason perform a specially recorded recital of Beethoven, Barber, Bridge and Rachmaninov.
Sat 12th Sep – 8pm, BBC Four
The Last Night of the Proms, featuring South-African soprano Golda Schultz with the BBC Symphony Orchestra under its Principal Guest Conductor Dalia Stasevska.
BBC Proms 2020 goes ahead with virtual orchestra and archive performances
28th May 2020
The BBC Proms will play on this summer, despite the coronavirus pandemic, with plans confirmed to take the festival online – and, depending on circumstances, end with a live finish.
Running from 17th July to 12th September, the season will launch with a BBC Grand Virtual Orchestra. This unique enterprise includes a commission by Iain Farrington to mark the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth. A new mash-up of Beethoven’s 9 symphonies, more than 350 musicians will perform the work virtually together after recording their parts at home, including all the BBC Orchestras and BBC Singers.
2020 marks 125 years since the first Proms season, so it’s only fitting that the event will be looking back as well as forward, with the unrivalled archives made available to audiences to relive concerts and highlights. From 17th July BBC Radio 3 will present past Proms concerts every evening, as well as a weekly Late Night Prom, and a Monday lunchtime offering, while BBC Four will broadcast stand-out Proms each Sunday throughout the festival. Every archive Proms broadcast will be available to watch or listen live and on-demand on BBC iPlayer or BBC Sounds. In addition there will be specially curated, on-demand music mixes on BBC Sounds and further TV highlights of Proms over the years on BBC iPlayer.
The aim remains the same – to create the world’s greatest classical music festival by reflecting world class music-making from leading artists around the globe, highlighting emerging talent, and featuring work by some of today’s most exciting and innovative composers. And, if the situation allows, there are plans for live performances at the Royal Albert Hall later in the season, culminating in a Last Night of the Proms concert.
These will provisionally begin from 28th August, with the hope of having two weeks of live performances to finish the festival. Working strictly within government safety advice, the range of work would vary from solo performances to ensemble work – that schedule will be announced nearer the time, once plans and government guidelines are finalised.
David Pickard, Director BBC Proms, says: “These are challenging times for our nation and the rest of the world, but they show that we need music and the creative industries more than ever. This year it is not going to be the Proms as we know them, but the Proms as we need them. We will provide a stimulating and enriching musical summer for both loyal Proms audiences and people discovering the riches we have to offer for the first time.”