Proms 2019: looking forward

The programme for this year’s Proms season has been unveiled today. Looking at it from a contemporary music perspective, last year’s season has been revealed (as expected) to have been a one-off of surprising generosity. In 2018 we ended up with no fewer than 39 premières, whereas the usual figure is somewhere around half that. For 2019, contemporary music has been scaled back again, with a total of 30 world, European or UK premières.

The world premières dominate: there are 17 of them, from Zosha Di Castri (whose new work Long Is the Journey – Short Is the Memory gets the season up and running on the opening night), Hans Zimmer (yes, i know), Alexia Sloane, Outi Tarkiainen, Huw Watkins, Errollyn Wallen, Joanna Lee, Jonathan Dove, Dieter Ammann, Alissa Firsova, Ryan Wigglesworth, Dobrinka Tabakova, Linda Catlin Smith, Freya Waley-Cohen, Jonny Greenwood and, kicking off the last night knees-up, Daniel Kidane. There’s also a quartet of new works inspired by movements from J. S. Bach’s Orchestral Suites by Stuart MacRae, Nico Muhly, Ailie Robertson and Stevie Wishart, and a joint world première birthday present for conductor Martyn Brabbins, put together by a veritable cluster of the great and the mainstream that will no doubt be the absolute epitome of a curate’s egg. The European and UK premières are by Anna Þorvaldsdóttir, Peter Eötvös, Benjamin Beckman, Detlev Glanert, John Luther Adams and Louis Andriessen. Overall, it’s hardly the most scintillatingly imaginative choice of composers, but then, it’s the Proms. The gender balance is starting to approach parity, so that’s at least something to celebrate.

Of the rest of the season, highlights include the chance to hear the Will Gregory Moog Ensemble together with the BBC Concerto Orchestra (Prom 11, 26 July), Messiaen‘s epic Des canyons aux étoiles… with pianist Nicolas Hodges (Prom 13, 28 July), James MacMillan‘s Proms favourite The Confession of Isobel Gowdie (Prom 19, 2 August), Takemitsu‘s exquisite Twill by Twilight (Prom 28, 8 August), Sofia Gubaidulina‘s Fairytale Poem (Prom 42, 18 August), Simon Rattle conducting the LSO in Varèse‘s Amériques (Prom 44, 20 August), Hugh Wood‘s Scenes from Comus (Prom 53, 29 August), and the inaugural concert of the all-new Knussen Chamber Orchestra (Proms at Cadogan Hall 8, 9 September).

The season begins in just over three months’ time, on 19 July; full details about all the concerts are available on the BBC Proms website and tickets go on sale on 11 May. Below is a summary of the premières: ** = world, † = European and * = UK.


Prom 1 • 19 July

Zosha Di Castri – Long Is the Journey – Short Is the Memory **

Proms 3 & 5 • 21 & 22 July

Hans Zimmer – Earth **

Proms at … Cadogan Hall 1 • 22 July

Alexia Sloane – Earthward **

Prom 6 • 22 July

Anna Þorvaldsdóttir – Metacosmos *

Prom 8 • 24 July

Peter Eötvös – Alhambra – violin concerto *

Prom 9 • 25 July

Tobias Broström – Nigredo – Dark Night of the Soul *

Prom 22 • 4 August

Outi Tarkiainen – Midnight Sun Variations **

Prom 28 • 8 August

Huw Watkins – The Moon **

Proms 32 • 11 August

Benjamin Beckman – new work *

Prom 33 • 11 August

Detlev Glanert – Weites Land (‘Musik mit Brahms’ for orchestra) *

Prom 35 • 13 August

Various – Pictured Within: Birthday Variations for M. C. B. **

Prom 39 • 15 August

Errollyn Wallen – This Frame Is Part of the Painting **

Proms at … Holy Sepulchure London • 17 August

Joanna Lee – At this man’s hand **

Prom 43 • 19 August

Jonathan Dove – new work **
Dieter Ammann – Piano Concerto **

Prom 49 • 25 August

Alissa Firsova – Red Fox **

Prom 52 • 28 August

Ryan Wigglesworth – Piano Concerto **

Prom 56 • 31 August

Dobrinka Tabakova – new work **

Prom 58 • 1 September

Linda Catlin Smith – new work **

Prom 66 • 8 September

John Luther Adams – In the Name of the Earth

Prom 67 • 8 September

Louis Andriessen – The Only One *

Proms at … Cadogan Hall 8 • 9 September

Freya Waley-Cohen – new work **

Prom 70 • 10 September

Jonny Greenwood – Horror vacui **

Prom 71 • 11 September

Stuart MacRae – new work **
Nico Muhly – new work **
Ailie Robertson – new work **
Stevie Wishart – new work **

Prom 75 • 14 September

Daniel Kidane – Woke **​

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