BBC unveils Proms 2021 line-up
James R | On 27, May 2021
The BBC Proms will return this summer for a series of in-person concerts, after last year’s virtual event.
The 2021 proms will feature 52 concerts over 44 days featuring 30 orchestras and ensembles, over 100 soloists and conductors and more than 2,000 musicians. 20 of the concerts will be be broadcast on BBC One, Two or Four and available to stream on BBC iPlayer.
The BBC Orchestras and Choirs remain the beating heart of the Proms, joined by orchestras and ensembles from across the UK along with artists such as Nicola Benedetti, Karen Cargill, Lucy Crowe, Sir Mark Elder, Benjamin Grosvenor, Steven Isserlis, Sally Matthews, Sir Simon Rattle, Christine Rice, Roderick Williams and Sir John Eliot Gardiner in his 60th Proms appearance.
Marking the 150th anniversary of the Royal Albert Hall and 80 years since the venue became home to the BBC Proms, there is a celebration of the Hall’s organ across five concerts, as well as four new works commissioned by the BBC. Augusta Read Thomas, Britta Byström, Grace-Evangeline Mason and Gity Razaz, whose new work opens the Last Night Of The Proms, have taken the Hall’s original name, The Royal Albert Hall of Arts and Sciences, as inspiration.
The First Night Of The Proms opens with Vaughan Williams’s Serenade To Music, a love song to music and musicians, premiered at the Royal Albert Hall under the baton of Proms founder-conductor Henry Wood in 1938, led by a quartet of British singers – Elizabeth Llewellyn, Jess Dandy, Allan Clayton and Michael Mofidian – with the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Principal Guest Conductor Dalia Stasevska. The same forces give the world premiere of When Soft Voices Die, a companion piece to the Serenade To Music by Sir James MacMillan, setting texts by Shelley.
This is co-commissioned by the BBC and Help Musicians in the latter’s centenary year to celebrate music and those who bring it to life. The programme also includes Poulenc’s Organ Concerto with leading organist Daniel Hyde.
The Mahler Chamber Orchestra, the only international orchestra at the festival this year, brings the world premiere of a BBC commission by George Benjamin, belatedly celebrating his 60th birthday last year. Other international artists featured across the summer include Pierre-Laurent Aimard, Joshua Bell, Sol Gabetta, Kirill Gerstein, Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla, Vladimir Jurowski and Stuart Skelton who joins accordionist Ksenija Sidorova and Chief Conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra, Sakari Oramo, for the Last Night Of The Proms celebrations.
For the first time ever, the Proms will have four mystery Proms to be revealed at a later date. What has been confirmed, however, is the award-winning Sinfonia of London, which makes its much-anticipated concert debut under Proms favourite John Wilson, who re-established the orchestra in 2018. A host of British opera singers – Natalya Romaniw, Sally Matthews, Nardus Williams, Christine Rice, Nicky Spence and Freddie De Tommaso – will also join forces for an evening of opera exploring themes of isolation and reunion which are particularly relevant at this time.
Concerts include Bach’s St Matthew Passion with Jonathan Cohen directing Arcangelo and Arcangelo Chorus; Glyndebourne Festival Opera’s performance of Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde conducted by Robin Ticciati, marking 60 years of Proms performances by the opera company; The Golden Age Of Broadway with the BBC Concert Orchestra and Richard Balcombe; Chineke! Orchestra returning for its fourth visit to the Proms, celebrating diversity in composers as well as performers under the baton of Kalena Bovell; singer-songwriter Moses Sumney with the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Creative Artist in Association Jules Buckley and award-winning jazz saxophonist and composer, Nubya Garcia.
To mark 50 years since the death of Stravinsky, the Aurora Orchestra performs the 1945 suite from The Firebird from memory, while Sir Simon Rattle leads the London Symphony Orchestra in an all-Stravinsky programme. Other composer anniversaries marked include Thomas Adès, Ruth Gipps, Josquin des Prez, Astor Piazzolla, Ariel Ramírez, Robert Simpson, Pauline Viardot, Alexander von Zemlinsky, and Proms favourite Malcolm Arnold.
Camille Saint-Saëns, who died 100 years ago, is celebrated in a special family Prom. The seven talented Kanneh-Mason siblings and musical friends are joined by former Children’s Laureate Michael Morpurgo for The Carnival of the Animals, which gets a fresh update in witty new poems by Morpurgo and a new companion piece by Daniel Kidane.
David Pickard, Director of the Proms, says: “Planning a Proms season in a pandemic isn’t easy. We have relied on the creativity and collaboration of many people to offer a programme of such ambition, scale and quality, and are proud to celebrate so much outstanding British talent this summer. We are looking forward to welcoming live audiences back to the Royal Albert Hall in its 150th anniversary year, and to sharing six weeks of live music with audiences in the Hall and at home on BBC Radio 3 and on BBC TV. I hope you will join us for a summer filled with music.”
Here’s the line-up of concerts being broadcast on TV or streamed on BBC iPlayer:
Fri 30 Jul 2021
First Night of the Proms 2021
The BBC Symphony Orchestra and Principal Guest Conductor Dalia Stasevska kick off the 2021 Proms with an Anglo-French Prom featuring a world premiere by Sir James MacMillan
Sat 31 Jul 2021
The Golden Age of Broadway
Let the BBC Concert Orchestra whisk you away for a night of classic Broadway musicals.
Sun 1 Aug 2021
An Evening of Mozart with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra
The Scottish Chamber Orchestra and their young Principal Conductor Maxim Emelyanychev showcase Mozart’s final three symphonies – composed over a period of just two months in the summer of 1788
Mon 2 Aug 2021
Elim Chan Conducts the BBC National Orchestra of Wales
Award-winning conductor Elim Chan and the BBC National Orchestra of Wales reveal how composers as varied as Purcell, Brahms and Elizabeth Ogonek have turned to the hypnotic repeated pattern of the ‘chaconne’
Thu 5 Aug 2021
Gražinytė-Tyla Leads the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra
Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra champion the music of neglected British composer Ruth Gipps.
Sat 7 Aug 2021
Nicola Benedetti and the NYOGB
Nicola Benedetti teams up with rising star Jonathon Heyward and the talented teenagers of the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain for one of the all-time symphonic greats: Beethoven’s ‘Eroica’ Symphony.
Wed 11 Aug 2021
Stravinsky from memory
The Aurora Orchestra returns to the Proms for Stravinsky’s colourful The Firebird suite – performed from memory – joined by Pavel Kolesnikov for Rachmaninov’s popular Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini.
Sat 14 Aug 2021
Víkingur Ólafsson Plays Bach and Mozart
Award-winning Icelandic pianist Víkingur Ólafsson makes his much-anticipated Proms debut in a Bach–Mozart double bill.
Mon 16 Aug 2021
To Soothe the Aching Heart
Pack your tissues for a night rich in emotion and drama. Conductor Ben Glassberg and the BBC Philharmonic are joined by a host of British opera stars in an evening of opera excerpts on themes of separation and reconciliation.
Wed 18 Aug 2021
British saxophonist, composer, DJ and bandleader Nubya Garcia is one of the brightest of a new generation of UK jazz talent. Tonight’s performance marks her much-anticipated Proms debut.
Sat 21 Aug 2021
Moses Sumney Meets Jules Buckley and the BBC Symphony Orchestra
Blending soul, jazz, art-pop and spoken word, Moses Sumney defies categorisation. Joined by Proms favourite Jules Buckley and the BBC Symphony Orchestra, he takes a symphonic trip through songs from his albums Aromanticism and græ.
Sun 22 Aug 2021
Sir Simon Rattle Conducts the London Symphony Orchestra
Legendary conductor Sir Simon Rattle joins his colleagues at London Symphony Orchestra to mark the 2021 Stravinsky anniversary with a series of symphonic snapshots.
Tue 24 Aug 2021
Britain’s only majority-BME orchestra Chineke! returns for its fourth appearance at the Proms, celebrating diversity in composers as well as performers.
Wed 25 Aug 2021
From an icy Italian winter to the heady, sensual warmth of a South American summer: violinist Joshua Bell leads the Academy of St Martin in the Fields on a musical journey through the sights and sounds of two continents and four very different seasons.
Thu 26 Aug 2021
George Lewis & Beethoven
The BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra returns for its second Prom of the season, pairing Beethoven’s scintillating concert aria ‘Ah! perfido’ with his multilayered Second Symphony – plus a highly charged world premiere from American composer George Lewis.
Sun 29 Aug 2021
This Prom is all about animal magic as author Michael Morpurgo joins the seven talented Kanneh-Mason siblings and starry musical friends for a special family performance of Saint-Saëns’s ‘zoological fantasy’, The Carnival of the Animals.
Wed 1 Sep 2021
Sir John Eliot Gardiner Conducts the Monteverdi Choir & English Baroque Soloists
Sir John Eliot Gardiner makes his 60th Proms appearance directing his own Monteverdi Choir and English Baroque Soloists.
Sat 4 Sep 2021
John Wilson Conducts the Sinfonia of London
The award-winning Sinfonia of London makes its much-anticipated official concert debut under John Wilson, who re-established the ensemble in 2018.
Thu 9 Sep 2021
Bach’s St Matthew Passion
Period-instrument ensemble Arcangelo and Director Jonathan Cohen return to the Proms, joined by the Arcangelo Chorus and a glittering line-up of soloists, for Bach’s crowning masterpiece, the St Matthew Passion.
Sat 11 Sep 2021
Last Night of the Proms 2021
A stellar line-up brings the world’s largest classical music festival to a close. Tenor Stuart Skelton and charismatic Latvian accordionist Ksenija Sidorova join the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Sakari Oramo for a spectacular climax to the festival.