The Proms, at last, are back with us, albeit shorn of their first two weeks. We now have a six week season commencing on 30 July.

The programme looks quite different to the more traditional seasons of the past. No choral music (choirs not permitted!), and in any case the socially distanced orchestras will be using the choir seats for most of the concerts.

No foreign symphony orchestras, thanks to a mixture of Covid 19 (they haven’t been playing anywhere this season, and therefore have no programmes rehearsed and prepared), and Brexit – they can’t get here anyway!

This means that there is a preponderance of British artists and also of British music.

There is a certain amount of risk-taking with some of the choices, and with only 1,000 seats to sell, most of the programmes will run at a loss, unless the restrictions are lifted before the series starts, and they can release another 5,000 seats!

We have selected some of the highlights of British music that you can look forward to hearing, if not in presence at the Royal Albert Hall, then on Radio 3.

When one considers all the challenges facing the organisers, we have to say that they have done a pretty good job mixing the classics with contemporary works, and there are plenty of commissions – “novelties” as old Timber would say – to keep the Proms tradition going!

July 30th
RVW: Serenade to Music (four soloists). MacMillan: When soft voices die (BBC Commission).
BBC SO/Stasevska. (With Poulenc Organ Concerto).

August 5th
Ruth Gipps: Symphony 2/Thomas Ades: The Exterminating Angel Symphony/
CBSO/Mirga Grazinyte-Tyla. (With Brahms 3)

Conductor Kirill Karabits

August 9
Elgar Cello Concerto. Johannes Moser/Bournemouth SO/Karabits.

August 12
Walton Cello Concerto / Isserlis/ LPO/Jurowski. (With Stravinsky and Hindemith)

August 16
Robert Simpson: String Quartet in D op 64 no 5 The Marmen Quartet. Plus Haydn at Cadogan Hall, 1pm.

August 27
Charlotte Bray: “Where Icebergs Dance Away” (BBC Commission)/Walton Viola Concerto and Malcolm Arnold : Symphony no 5. BBC SO/Oramo/Timothy Ridout

September 2
20th Century British Film Music by Arnold, RVW and Doreen Carwithen, BBC Concert Orchestra/Tovey

There are other goodies too!

A complete St Matthew Passion, a Stravinsky concert with Rattle and the LSO (Symphony in C and Symphony in Three Movements), “Tristan” from Glyndebourne, and appearances by Sol Gabetta and Patricia Kopatchinskaja, which are sure to help swell the house. 

The only foreign orchestra to make these shores is the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, and there are two organ recitals, one by Olivier Latry and the other by our own Thomas Trotter.

Whatever your taste in music, Happy Listening!

Find out more at the BBC Proms website