Proms 2017: looking forward

by 5:4

It’s that time again: today all the details of this year’s Proms season have been revealed. From a contemporary music perspective, there are 15 world premières – from Tom CoultRoderick WilliamsLaurent DuruptJulian AndersonBrian EliasJudith WeirPhilip Glass/Ravi Shankar (i know, just don’t), Michael GordonCheryl Frances-HoadJonathan DoveDaniel SaleebGerald Barry, Hannah KendallCatherine Lamb and Lotta Wennäkoski – and nine European/UK premières – from Harrison BirtwistlePascal DusapinAnders HillborgJames MacMillanMark-Anthony TurnageThomas LarcherAndrea Tarrodi, Erkki-Sven Tüür and Missy Mazzoli. Lots of men in those lists: women composers account for a quarter of the premières, which is an improvement on last year but otherwise not in any way an admirable statistic.

Aside from these, John Adams‘ 70th birthday year is being marked with five performances throughout the season (none of them premières, which is surprising, but in its own way a relief), there’s an event both titled and celebrating “The ‘Godlike Genius’ of Scott Walker” (a title that i fully endorse), the London Contemporary Orchestra will be teaming up with Actress for an evening of improvised who-knows-what alongside Exaudi, and there’s a sprinkling of recent works from, among others, Mark Simpson (a chance for London finally to hear The Immortal), David Sawer, Francisco Coll, Thomas Adès, David Lang, Julia Wolfe, Louis Andriessen, Kate Whitley, Wolfgang Rihm and Rebecca Saunders. Another list with a lot of men.

The full run-down of contemporary music featured in this year’s Proms season is shown below (**=world première, *=European/UK première); the number of the concert – or the venue, when outside the Royal Albert Hall; PCM = Proms Chamber Music – is shown in square brackets, and clicking on the date will take you to the relevant page on the BBC website. i leave it up to you to decide whether the title of this blog post is accurate.

Friday 14 Jul [1]

• Tom Coult – St John’s Dance**
• John Adams – Harmonium

Sunday 16 Jul [4]

• Harrison Birtwistle – Deep Time*

Monday 17 Jul [PCM1]

• Roderick Williams – Là ci darem la mano**

Wednesday 19 Jul [7]

• Pascal Dusapin – Outscape*

Monday 24 Jul [PCM2]

• Laurent Durupt – Grids for Greed**

Tuesday 25 Jul [15]

• The ‘Godlike Genius’ of Scott Walker

Wed 26 Jul [16]

• Julian Anderson – Piano Concerto**

Thu 27 Jul [17]

• Mark Simpson – The Immortal

Fri 28 Jul [18]

• Anders Hillborg – Sirens*

Sat 29 Jul [20]

• David Sawer – The Greatest Happiness Principle

Sun 30 Jul [21]

• James MacMillan – A European Requiem*

Wed 2 Aug [24]

• John Adams – Naive and Sentimental Music

Thu 3 Aug [26]

• Erkki-Sven Tüür – Flamma*

Sat 5 Aug [28]

• Francisco Coll – Mural
• Thomas Adès – Polaris

Wed 9 Aug [32]

• Brian Elias – Cello Concerto**

Sat 12 Aug [Southwark Cathedral]

• Judith Weir – In the Land of Uz**

Mon 14 Aug [39]

• Mark-Anthony Turnage – Hibiki*

Tue 15 Aug [40]

• Thomas Larcher – Nocturne – Insomnia*

Tue 15 Aug [41]

• Philip Glass and Ravi Shankar – Passages** (first complete live performance)

Thu 17 Aug [44]

• Michael Gordon – Big Space**
• David Lang – Sunray
• Julia Wolfe – Big Beautiful Dark and Scary
• Philip Glass – Glassworks – Closing
• Louis Andriessen – Workers Union

Sun 20 Aug [47]

• Cheryl Frances-Hoad – Chorale Prelude ‘Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott’**
• Jonathan Dove – Chorale Prelude ‘Christ unser Herr zum Jordan kam’**
• Daniel Saleeb – Chorale Prelude ‘Erhalt uns, Herr bei deinem Wort’**

Mon 21 Aug [50]

• Gerald Barry – Canada**

Sat 26 Aug [Bold Tendencies Multi-Storey Car Park, Peckham]

• Kate Whitley – I am I say
• John Adams – Harmonielehre

Wed 30 Aug [61]

• Andrea Tarrodi – Liguria*

Wed 30 Aug [62]

• Hannah Kendall – The Spark Catchers**

Fri 1 Sep [64]

• Wolfgang Rihm – In-Schrift

Sat 2 Sep [Wilton’s Music Hall]

• John Luther Adams – songbirdsongs (excerpts)
• Rebecca Saunders – Molly’s Song 3
(+ Messiaen/Maxwell Davies)

Mon 4 Sep [69]

• John Adams – Lollapalooza

Tue 5 Sep [70]

• Missy Mazzoli – Sinfonia (for Orbiting Spheres)*

Wed 6 Sep [The Tanks at Tate Modern]

• Actress/Rodrigo Constanzo/Exaudi/The London Contemporary Orchestra
• Catherine Lamb – new work**
• Cassandra Miller – Guide

Sat 9 Sep [75: Last Night of the Proms]

• Lotta Wennäkoski – Flounce**
• John Adams – Lola Montez Does the Spider Dance

Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

The male/female ratio gets worse if you factor in size of piece. I think Weir is the only one with a properly big work represented; there are a few more around the 12-minute mark, then the rest are short, whereas the guys have big concertos and orchestral-vocal works all over the place.

[…] Here’s the full list (click the bold to go to the BBC’s listing page). As usual, I may have missed something; please let me know in the comments if I have. And here’s Simon’s alternative take. […]


I havent had a look myself but presumably there are also none or very few non-premieres of pieces by women?

Chris L

Mark Simpson (a chance for London finally to hear The Immortal)

…and then you’ll have no choice but to write about it, eh, Simon…? ;-)

Click here to respond and leave a commentx