The Principal's Blog

Looking forward to the 2016 Proms

Professor Jonathan Freeman-Attwood CBE, Principal - Posted on 15.04.2016

After a very busy few days, I’ve just sat down for a few minutes to read right through the programme for the 2016 BBC Proms. There’s plenty of interest from an Academy perspective – as is only right, as Academy alumni and professors have been so closely involved in this very special festival ever since Sir Henry Wood (who himself was both alumnus and professor, of course) conducted its very first season in 1895.

I started at the back of the programme this year, with the Last Night. After the Prommers’ traditional garlanding of Sir Henry’s bust with a laurel-leaf chaplet, we can look forward to a succession of singers who have recently studied at the Academy. Some of them are in fact still here, so this will be one of their first performances after graduation. Congratulations to Eve Daniell, Alison Rose, Claire Barnett-Jones, Anna Harvey, Katie Stevenson, Trystan Llŷr Griffiths and Oliver Johnston.

We can also look forward to appearances by alumni David Butt Philip (Prom 2); Lucy Crowe and Robin Tritschler (Prom 3, and Lucy will appear again in Prom 54 along with Neal Davies); Mark Wigglesworth (Prom 11); cellists Emma Denton, Benjamin Hughes, Sarah McMahon, Robin Michael, Brian O’Kane and Pedro Silva with professor Guy Johnston (PCM2 at Cadogan Hall); a new 20-minute Violin Concerto by Michael Berkeley (Prom 16); André de Ridder (David Bowie Prom 19); former Fellow Nicholas Collon (Prom 21); Edward Gardner (Prom 22 and Prom 29); James Platt and Iain Farrington, conducted by Visiting Professor David Hill (Proms at Greenwich); bass Callum Thorpe sings at Sam Wanamaker Playhouse on 13th August; Ilan Volkov (Prom 30 and Prom 46); Clara Mouriz (Prom 48); Gabriela Montero (Prom 51); Jessica Cottis (Family Proms 56 and 58); Christopher Maltman (Prom 62); Sir Simon Rattle (Proms 64 and 66); David Butt Philip (Prom 68) and Iestyn Davies with alumnus and professor Joseph Middleton (PCM 8) – and apologies to anyone whose name I missed in my quick scan through the brochure.

Quincy Jones, who last year joined our illustrious list of Honorary Doctorates of the University of London, has his own Prom this year on 22nd August and has invited our multi-talented jazz student Jacob Collier to join him on voice, piano and synths. Another jazz Prom – the late-night Prom 28 – features Academy professor Iain Ballamy on saxophone.

Academy professors will be appearing throughout the season. Visiting Professor of Piano Steven Osborne will perform Britten’s Concerto in Prom 24, and another Visiting Professor – Stephen Hough – will perform Rachmaninov with the BBCSO in Prom 50 on 23rd August. Oliver Knussen conducts BBC Symphony Orchestra in the UK premiere of Reinbert de Leeuw’s Der nächtliche Wanderer on 4th August, and a new 20-minute work by David Sawer is the major feature of a London Sinfonietta programme at the Roundhouse on 20th August that also includes music by alumnus and Visiting Professor Sir Harrison Birtwistle. A new Cello Concerto by Honorary Research Fellow Huw Watkins will be premiered in Prom 37Semyon Bychkov, our Klemperer Chair of Conducting, appears with the BBCSO on 28th August, and recent visiting conductors Marin Alsop, Sir Mark Elder, Christian Thielemann are all also making appearances. Timothy Jones will introduce Mozart’s Mass in C minor in a Proms Extra presentation at Imperial College Union, also on 20th August.

The Proms Guide also features Academy Professor of Cello Mats Lidström’s essay in celebration of his instrument – if you need any persuasion that the cello, as he says, ‘enjoys a special place in people’s hearts’.

There’s plenty to look forward to!