The world's eyes are on London this week, as the second and final week of the Olympic Games takes place. However, the Olympic Stadium isn't the only place in the city where history is being made, with a highly anticipated list of UK and world premieres among the many concerts at the BBC Proms this week.
Founded in 1895, and billed as world’s biggest music festival, the Proms runs through Sept. 8 at the Royal Albert Hall and other nearby London venues. It includes over 70 concerts, encompassing a wide range of symphonic and operatic music. The festival features performers from all over the globe, focusing especially on British musicians.
WQXR.org is your passport to London, with an audio stream of the daily Proms concerts.
Monday, August 6
Violinist Jennifer Pike, pianist Igor Levit and cellist Nicolas Alstaedt honor the 150th anniversary of Debussy's birth with his sonatas for violin and cello, as well as Ravel's Piano Trio. Kristjan Järvi conducts Bernstein's Mass, performed with some of Wales's most talented children and adult musicians.
Tuesday August 7
2:30 pm EDT: Wagner, Bruckner and MacMillan
Juanjo Mena conducts the BBC Philharmonic in the anticipated world premiere of a BBC co-commission, James MacMillan's Credo. Preceding it will be the Prelude to Act I of Tristan and Isolde, and the concert will finish with Bruckner's Symphony No. 6. The Manchester Chamber Choir, the Northern Sinfonia Chorus and the Rushley Singers all make their Proms debut in this performance.
Wednesday, August 8
2:30 pm EDT: Schubert, Dubugnon and R. Strauss
Piano duo Katia and Marielle Labèque perform the UK premiere of the Battlefield Concerto, a piece written for them by composer and bassist Richard Dubugnon. Conductor Semyov Bychkov also leads the BBC Symphony Orchestra in Schubert's "Unfinished" Symphony No. 8 and Strauss' musical autobiography, Ein Heldenleben.
Thursday, August 9
In his first Prom as principal guest conductor of the BBC Philharmonic, John Storgårds conducts a Nordic program of two Sibelius symphonies, nos. 3 and 6, as well as Delius' vocal work Cynara sung by baritone Roderick Williams, Grieg's Piano Concerto performed by Steven Osborne, and the UK premiere of Nørgård's Symphony No. 7. Later, soprano Sophie Bevan, tenor Toby Spence and narrator Simon Callow pay tribute to Ivor Novello, the most consistently successful composer of British musicals before the advent of Andrew Lloyd Webber, along with the Hallé and conductor Sir Mark Elder.
Friday, August 10
Sir Mark Elder, an Elgar specialist, leads a starry cast of vocal soloists along with the Hallé, the Hallé Choir, the Hallé Youth Choir and the London Philharmonic Choir in one of the major works of the British choral tradition. Mark Armstrong conducts the National Youth Jazz Orchestra in music by Thelonius Monk, Ellington, Kenny Wheeler and others.
Saturday, August 11
In a concert full of premieres, Nicolas Hodges gives the UK premiere of Michael Finnissy's Piano Concerto No. 2 with the Britten Sinfonia and conductor Clark Rundell. Sir Harrison Birtwistle's Gigue Machine will also get its first UK performance, and Brian Elias's Electra Mourns its world premiere. Also on the program is Brian Ferneyhough's Prometheus. Mezzo-soprano Susan Bickley and English horn player Nicholas Daniel join as soloists. Later that day, Thierry Fischer will conduct four of Great Britain's choirs along with tenor Toby Spence and the BBC National Orchestra of Wales in Berlioz's Requiem.
Sunday, August 12
10:30 am EDT: National Youth Wind Orchestra and National Youth Brass Band of Great Britain
3:00 pm EDT: Schoenberg: Gurrelieder
Two ensembles, the National Youth Wind Orchestra and the National Youth Brass Band of Great Britain, and two conductors, Bramwell Tovey and James Gourlay, share this morning program. They will perform premieres by Gavin Higgins and Gavin Bryars, as well as works by Walton, Vaughan Williams and others.
Following Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony on the opening night of the London Olympics, the closing night sees another choral masterpiece. Schoenberg's medieval love-tragedy will be sung by five combined choirs and an impressive lineup of soloists, and conducted by Jukka-Pekka Saraste.