The BBC has announced a ‘re-conceived’ programme for this year’s BBC Proms festival, combining archive recordings and live concerts, with audiences at the Royal Albert Hall if coronavirus restrictions allow.
The current situation with COVID-19 means that the originally planned season is no longer possible, though the organisers say that the ‘ambition’ is for musicians to perform at the London venue for the last two weeks of the two-month classical music festival. Performers will be booked nearer the time when social distancing rules for the period become clear.
The festival begins with a virtual ‘mash-up’ of Beethoven’s nine symphonies, created by Ian Farrington and performed by all the BBC Orchestras and BBC Singers. Featuring over 350 musicians, this Grand Virtual Orchestra will see all the groups performing together after recording their parts at home. The commission marks the 250th anniversary year of Beethoven’s birth.
Proms director David Pickard said the piece will involve ‘the most ambitious lockdown orchestra ever’.
The 2020 season will continue with TV, radio and online broadcasts of past Proms, some chosen by the public, and will culminate in a ‘poignant and unique’ Last Night of the Proms on 12 September.
David Pickard said:
‘These are extraordinary times for our nation and the rest of the world, but they show that we need music and the creative industries more than ever. This year it is not going to be the Proms as we know them, but the Proms as we need them. We will provide a stimulating and enriching musical summer for both loyal Proms audiences and people discovering the riches we have to offer for the first time.’
The 2020 BBC Proms will open on Friday 17 July on BBC Radio 3 and Sunday 19 July on BBC Four