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BBC Proms - 17 July - 12 September 2009 - The World's Greatest Classical Music Festival

About the Proms / Questions to Roger Wright

Message from Roger Wright

Roger Wright

Thanks to you all for your questions.

I will try and answer them all as fully as possible and as time permits. Please excuse my presumption in using first names and that I sometimes batch questions together and can't go into the level of detail you might have been expecting.

Best wishes,

Roger

Your Questions


  • QFolk Night at The Proms

    Having much enjoyed last year's, I was wondering if there will be a televised Folk Night this year?

    Neill

  • A

    Neill,
    Glad you enjoyed last year's Folk Proms. This year our Indian Voices day in Hyde Park at the Hall replaced last year's Folk Prom. Look out for another special day of themed events next year!

  • Q2 Intervals

    Why do some concerts this (as last) year have 2 intervals? Could this be discontinued from next year please? Very inconvenient with all the to-ing and fro-ing (especially for Prommers) and a delayed finish to boot. Of course it's necessary for long operas, but not to fragment regular concerts in this way.

    Clive

  • A

    Clive,
    I'm glad to have the chance to explain this.
    I do think it is important that we try out different concert formats and build flexibility of approach to allow us opportunities to juxtapose repertoire in an interesting way. Mostly this is a practical issue but it is also to give the audience members the chance to clear their ears and provide some aural space.
    The practical issues are probably obvious. Sometimes the time spent moving between pieces (for example putting the two pianos in before the Mozart and Zimmermann in the LPO Prom or between the pieces in the multiple pianos evening) is almost as long as an interval and we want to give the audience to stretch their legs rather than having to watch the scene shifters for 15 minutes.

  • QEncores at Proms 56 and 59

    My son and I attended both Proms 56 and 59. At No 56 Lang Lang played an encore and at No 59 Dawn Upshaw sang an extra song. We'd be very interested to know what these encores were. Unfortunately we could not hear what was said.

    Ian Goreham

  • A

    Ian,
    Happy to tell you that Lang Lang played a Chopin Etude in A flat op.25 no.1
    Dawn Upshaw sang a song from Berio Folk Songs.
    All Prom encores are listed here.

  • QArtists for future Proms

    How far in advance are soloists booked for the Prom?
    What do you look for in less well-known artists?

    Bryan T Rixon

  • A

    Bryan,
    Some orchestras are booked 3 years in advance and we have already commissioned music for 2013.
    With all artists we look for quality of performance and distinctive repertoire - or both!

  • Q2010 Opening night

    I've heard a suggestion that next year's opening night repertoire will be Mahler 8: true?

    Roberto

  • A

    Roberto,
    We will release the details of the 2010 festival next April. Hope you like the opening night which was planned some time before this Proms season began.

  • QInnovative programme idea

    Have the proms organisers ever considered repeating the same piece before and after the interval i.e.
    1. Perform piece
    2. Normal interval
    3. Conductor talks about the piece to the audience with illustrations from the orchestra c 10 mins 4. Perform piece again

    The following symphonies might be suitable: Tchaikovsky 4, Beethoven 5, Sibelius 1 and 2, Brahms 1

    Keith White

  • A

    Keith,
    It has occasionally happened that a new piece has been performed twice (not always planned that way but decided on the night). There have been moments too when conductors have introduced pieces. I think that many audience members prefer to have different pieces in a programme. If you haven't heard it, you may enjoy Discovering Music on Radio 3 in which pieces are introduced and their structure explored.

  • QSuggestion for 2012

    For the 100th anniversary of Massenet's death could you please include one of his rarely performed operas and/or La Vierge in the 2012 season? I'm hoping we won't get an entirely 'Olympic' programme that year...

    Karen McLernon

  • A

    Karen,
    Thanks for the Massenet suggestion. We will certainly consider how to celebrate his anniversary. You won't get an entirely Olympic programme ln 2012, even if I knew what that might be! I am always glad to have suggestions for that year.

  • QPiano Performers

    I'm doing GCSE music course work at the moment and I was wondering what the names of your pianists are for the Proms?

    Charlotte O'Toole

  • A

    Charlotte,
    You will find all our pianists listed on the Proms web site - there have been a lot of them this year! Good luck with the GSCE!

  • QMichael Nyman Band

    I applaud the decision to finally ask Nyman to do a Prom. Despite considerable forces on stage (all playing with great gusto throughout), the performance was amplified beyond all reason, resulting in several Prommers (including myself) having to put fingers in their ears to protect them from excessive sound levels. Eventually it became so intolerable that I had to leave and listen to the last few items in the car on the way home. Could you try to persuade performers NOT to use amps unless they are really necessary? I do not think Nyman's group needed any enhancement at all.

    Michael Mabe

  • A

    Michael,
    Glad that you liked having Nyman included this year. It was a very popular Prom. The Nyman Band is an amplified group and so were just reflected the sound of the group as Nyman wanted. He considers the quality of the sound and balance between the instruments, not just the volume.

  • QTV Broadcasts

    The Prom on 28th August on BBC Four started at 7.30pm but on Radio 3 it started at 7pm.I cannot believe you could not show them both at the same time. We do not get so many live transmissions on the TV and Radio 3 jointly. Could you not try a bit harder because some of us licence payers do not watch east enders or your endless repeats and the junk you choose to show.

    Jason Martin

  • A

    Jason,
    Radio 3 always broadcasts the concerts live but the TV schedule is more varied. Colleagues in TV try to broadcast live when they can but it is not always possible. When we do broadcast at the same time we cannot deliver the sound simultaneously as the time of digital signals due to the variety of platforms on which our services are now offered.

  • QMartha Argerich not televised?!

    Undoubtedly the highlight of the Proms calendar this year was the rare appearance of Martha Argerich. Sadly the viewers will not get to see the finest female virtuoso of our age. The BBC owners of the Proms musical festival leave the best off the screen. It would have been a great contrast to see her compared with the Lang-Lang puppet show, which was repeated again tonight. Shame on the schedulers, we license payers have been cheated of the best!

    Allen Carter

  • A

    As I have said in some previous answers we have difficult choices to make and in the end our TV colleagues have decided to stick with our regular transmission schedule. I am sorry, Allen, that this means that some Proms have not been televised but there seems to have been a positive response to the regularity of the schedule. We are already assessing all the feedback and will discuss this again for next year.

  • Q3 suggestions

    1. Give details of the orchestra, conductor and guest singers/players in the closing credits and not just the BBC staff.
    2. For longer pieces, show the name of each movement as it starts.
    3. Even when singing is in English, particularly operatic singing, it would be useful to have subtitles. Usually I can make out the vowels, but I have no idea what the consonants are!

    Joe Webber

  • A

    Thanks Joe, for this feedback and helpful suggestions which I will pass to my TV colleagues for them to consider in the future.

  • QMGM Musicals Proms

    PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, use your influence to ensure that a DVD of this absolutely superb broadcast is made available to us. It is the most outstanding program I have watched. Everything about it was stupendous! Unfortunately I didn't record it. Watching it on the iPlayer on a computer couldn't compete with enjoying the whole experience on HD TV. Thanks for a wonderful show

    Mrs Rosslyn Newbold

  • A

    Rosslyn,
    The possibility of it being released is still being discussed. You are not alone in begging for it to be made available!

  • QProm 52

    Can I agree with one of the reviewers of this prom and say it was outstanding? Also, that Schnittke should get more concert time. Do you know whether Gergiev plans to record it? He should! It could be coupled with Prokofiev's Revolutionary Cantata - they should just fit on one disc!

    Also, the DDS 8th was incomparable to the hash Bychkov made of the massively underrated 11th. Perhaps if Gergiev or Haitink could be asked to give it in a future season - the Haitink Decca recording is still the best performance I've ever heard of it and the Proms deserves it to sound majestic and menacing, and not hackneyed and rushed. Still excited about the concert, as you may have guessed, and still getting over Matinu's Two Piano Concerto; if Prom 52 was the concert of the season so far, that was the piece of the season so far.

    Michael Williams

  • A

    Michael,
    Thanks for these comments.
    Gergiev has no plans to record the Schnittke but I know that he really enjoyed getting to know the piece and conducting it.
    I disagree about the performance of the 11th and the music critics were very impressed by it. Glad you liked the Martinu.

  • QBarenboim Proms Plus

    Dear Roger
    Last week's Proms Plus event with Daniel Barenboim was inspirational, a true Proms highlight of the season. Such a treat to hear the talented musicians from the West-Eastern Divan in a more intimate venue than the RAH. The whole event was like a Master Class and I certainly learnt how to listen to the music. I understand that this is to be broadcast at a later date: can you tell me when this might be, as I would love to listen again? More events such as this would be much appreciated.

    Debbie

  • A

    Debbie,
    I agree about the Barenboim introduction to the music of Boulez. It was a fascinating experience with real insight. Our plan is to broadcast it as part of our Radio 3 Discovering Music programme next year, so do please keep an eye on our listings.

  • QLast Night's Presenters

    What a load of twaddle your guests stated last night. How can the Proms get a wider audience when an "expert" talks about an Orchestra having no feet! I saw no wheelchairs! As someone who appreciates classical music I found that sort of stupid elitist remark very unhelpful, and I guarantee that she could not explain either!

    Anthony Collingwood Sherman

  • A

    I am sorry Anthony, but I don't know how to answer this as I didn't see the TV presentation to which you refer and therefore don't understand your point. I hope you have found other presentation more to your liking.

  • QProm 36 - Continuo Organ

    Can you let me know who are the builders of the Continuo organ used in Prom 36 (Royal Albert Hall) by Alastair Ross the piece Organ Concerto in F major No 4 - Handel? What is the organ specification?

    Bryan Brislane

  • A

    Bryan,
    It was a chamber organ by Manders.

  • QVarious

    Having attended the proms regularly for several seasons, I think that this is the best attended season I have ever been to. Perhaps it is because I have a season ticket this year and have been a lot more often, but the hall and arena are more full more often. Well done to your marketing team! Although I must confess to enjoying the less well attended proms even more as they feel more personal - in particular Handel's Samson was utterly magical.

    Amanda Gibbins

  • A

    Amanda,
    Thanks. Samson was indeed a special evening. The audiences have been very strong this year and we are busy assessing the figures now. We had a record year last year and this year looks like it will be close to that. It is very satisfying to have such a response from audiences - so thanks to you all!

  • QUkes on TV

    Congratulations on your choice of having the UOGB perform this year. I follow the Proms by listening to Radio 3 online. I LOVED the UOGB concert - but felt that I was missing something. It seems a lot was going on on stage which I missed only by listening. If you ever have another UOGB concert (and you should!), it would be fantastic to see it on TV.

    Andie Figgins

  • A

    Thanks - point taken!

  • QProm 35: Gilbert & Sullivan - Patience

    I caught a little of Prom 35: Gilbert & Sullivan - Patience, and was amazed and delighted with its energy and relevance, and the quality and freshness of the performance. I wanted to listen online to hear the whole thing, but missed it.
    1. Will it be repeated any time soon?
    2. Might it be made available for sale or given away with BBC Music Magazine?
    3. How far are we from a situation in which the BBC could keep the whole proms season on listain again for the whole season? Is there any prospect of this, or at least more proms available for longer?

    Geoff

  • A

    I refer you to my answers below regarding rights and scheduling. We do plan to repeat Patience on Radio 3, so keep a look out for it. It was indeed a special evening.

  • QRecording of the entire Proms

    I echo other people's requests and desire to be able to purchase CD/DVDs of the entire Proms season. I have however seen your answers as to the cost.
    I also agree with other questions as to why (TV) BBC 3 or 4 or one of the interactive channels cannot be used to cover the entire Prom. Standard programs on BBC 1 & 2 can and do get moved around for Wimbledon etc, why can't BBC 4's standard showing be moved to earlier in the day on BBC3? If nothing else, could the iPlayer not be used to host complete video recording of the entire season?

    Tom

  • A As you have noted, there are costs associated with the broadcasts of the Proms in whatever form they are transmitted and on whatever platform.
    We simply have to make choices which will never be right for everyone about which concerts to televise. Regular viewers to BBC 3 may not wish to see the Proms replace their usual output. I will however review the TV transmission and our scheduling with TV colleagues at the end of the season so all of your feedback and ideas are helpful.

  • QRecordings

    The excellent BBC iPlayer recordings are only available for one week. Are the recordings available on a permanent basis, either on CD or high bit-rate mp3? If not, why not?

    Bill

  • QProms CDs?

    Will any of the Proms be released on CD or MP3? I would love to listen to the Harry Christophers Prom year round. It would also make it easier to send to my family back in the US who can't listen on the iPlayer.

    Megan

  • QProms CDs?

    I live in the U.S. and have listened to the Proms online for three seasons. I think this is the most wonderful annual concert series anywhere in the world, and I'm so thankful that you broadcast the performances. My question is whether it is possible to download any of the performances?

    Susan Root

  • QMaestroCam

    I have really, really enjoyed watching the MeastroCam broadcasts, particularly of the concerts I have been to. I think I may wear out the link on the 'Divan' performance, which was such a great concert in every respect. I know there are issues of rights etc, but is there any possible way that the MaestroCam performances (or even just this one in particular) could be made available on DVD, or for a longer period (say until the proms season next year?!) rather than just until the end of this season?

    Gillian Brown

  • A Sorry Bill, Megan and Susan.
    The recordings are not available on a permanent basis. This is a rights question as the rights in the recordings are not available to us for longer and we do not have the right to offer them as permanent recordings or as downloads.

    Gillian,
    As you note the same rights issues apply to the Maestro Cam project but we will certainly investigate for the future if we can make any of this material available for longer. It has been very positively received and some conductors have mentioned to me what a good idea it is too!

  • QTelevised Proms

    Congratulations on an excellent season, and it is great to have so many concerts broadcast on television. What I find strange is that the BBC has 5 in-house orchestras, and 3 choirs and I find it strange that out of 42 concerts that feature one or more of the BBC performing groups, only 11 are being shown on TV. The BBC should be proud of its performing groups so why aren't these groups having all their concerts shown on BBC television?

    Ian J. Munro

  • A Thanks for your kind comments about the festival this year. The question you raise is simply one about TV scheduling. We like to present a variety of Proms on TV within as regular schedule as possible. However we also have to remember that there are TV viewers who may not share our love of the Proms and may not want all their other TV programmes displaced to accommodate more Proms.

  • QJohn Barry next year

    Congratulations once again on another fine season.

    For 2010 might I suggest that John Barry - one of our finest contemporary British composers - figures in next year's programme? Certainly the evening of music from the MGM musicals was excellent this year and John Barry would provide a most interesting and varied programme.

    Julie Capewell

  • A Thanks for your congratulations which I shall make certain the Proms team receives. As I have said elsewhere our planning for 2010 is almost complete and so there is little chance that we can slip in John Barry I am afraid. However we are very much thinking about how we can build on the success of the MGM concert for future Proms festivals.

  • QMask of Orpheus

    After the complete performance of St Francois D'assise last year disappointed, you decided to do only one act of Birtwistle's Mask of Orpheus. Despite not being there, it seemed to come across very well on TV. Any chance of showing the whole opera in a future proms season? Such a rarely performed ambitious masterpiece I feel would be perfectly suited to the festival.

    Adam Nagel

  • A We have no plans to present the whole opera. There are limits to how much can be prepared within the Proms period by the BBC Symphony Orchestra. As you probably know, the only performance since the premiere was presented by the BBC. I was pleased to see so many commentators, having heard Act 2, encouraging opera houses to take up the piece.

  • QConcert Programmes

    I really love the idea of the Electronic Concert Program. Have you got an archive of all past such programmes? Just enjoyed reading the Philharmonia programme while listening to the Prom online. P.S. Best Prom season I can remember for a long time.

    Martyn Harris

  • A We have had good feedback about the electronic programme. We have an archive of the programmes but not in this form. After the success of the initiative this year we will certainly be looking at how to develop our interactive programme offering.
    Thanks for your kind words about thus year's festival - hope you enjoy the rest of the concerts.

  • QBollywood Proms

    I liked the outdoor concert for the Indian Voices day, but instead of an original Bollywood act you decided to programme Shaan, a Bollywood cover band? I guess it shows the Proms and Albert Hall as interested in poppy popular Indian music.
    Tim

  • A The inclusion of Shaan at the end of our Indian Voices Day was simply to show the extraordinary range of Indian vocal music today and to have some fun at the end of our special day. The variety seemed to be enjoyed by the large crowds both in the hall in the morning and the evening and, as you say, in the park in the afternoon.

  • QAllan Pettersson

    2011 is the centenary of Pettersson's birth and it really is time that his 7th symphony was played by the BBC. I remain utterly baffled by BBC Radio 3's complete neglect of this Scandinavian masterpiece.
    Derek Bacon

  • A Thanks for the reminder about the Pettersson and the suggestion of the 7th symphony. It was last played on Radio 3 only two years ago but I agree that it is rarely heard in concert. I hope some conductors and orchestras will learn some of his works for 2011.

  • QUkuleles

    The Ukelele Orchestra of GB were GREAT - have you booked them for next year?
    Chris Coade

  • A Glad you liked the Ukulele Orchestra - as you probably know you were not alone!
    Most of our 2010 planning was finalised some time ago and so it is almost impossible to bring successes back the following year. But our audience hopes it won't be the last we hear of the group at the Proms - and so do I!

  • QBBC Orchestras - Ladies Dress Code

    First, well done for a lovely season.
    However, I am concerned that the BBC Orchestras do not follow a dress code for the ladies of the orchestras whereas they do for the men. BBCSO (07/08/09) and BBCSSO (13/08/09). The ladies disported themselves in trousers or skirts, some with bare arms, some with covered arms, some with half covered arms, some with shiny material and some with what looked like lace. Why one rule for the men and another for the ladies - the men all appeared to be in the same type of dress? The National Youth Orchestra, by contrast, looked splendid in a matching dress code (08/08/09).

    Peter Hardcastle

  • A

    We leave it to each orchestra to choose its own dress code. This is agreed by each group for the women and the men. It may be that this allows the women more freedom of choice but within agreed guidelines - even if in some cases it is only the colour. This is not just the case for BBC orchestras but for all orchestras at the Proms.

  • QLast Night of the British Proms

    On behalf of a great many music lovers and patriots, please can we be assured this time that the large EU flags will not be displayed as back drops and the rightful Union Jack flags usurped on the Last Night of the Proms, as has been the case over the past few years? The EU flag has no place whatsoever at the Last Night at the Proms.

    Elizabeth Ann Biddulph

  • A

    The Proms is an international festival and many of the audience enjoy the broad range of flags on display. I am confident that, as ever, there will be more Union Jacks than any other flags on display!

  • QLack of British Music

    Does it need death and birth dates to produce British Music? Stephen Hough could have played the 4 piano concertos of York, Bowen, Britten, Finzi, Ireland, Rowley, Ferguson, Darnton...
    Some chamber concerts of British composers would be welcome as well as choral music.
    Finally, Holst composed more than the Planets suite and BBC played Elgar's 'In the South' 3 times in 10 days.
    Graham Adams

  • A Graham, No it doesn't need anniversaries - please note for example the Moeran Symphony and Finzi Grand Fantasia and Toccata this year. However the Tchaikovsky piano concerti (well 2, 3 and the Concert Fantasy) are rare in concert too so I make no apologies for including them.
    I hope you enjoyed the Holst rarities - First Choral Symphony and A Song of the Night and look forward to the Four Songs for Tenor and Violin and Six Songs for baritone and piano in our NGA Chamber festival - where you can also hear Delius Cello Sonata and Elgar Violin Sonata.

  • QProm 38 cello concerto

    Why is the BBC wasting money (the licence payer's money!) commissioning such rubbish? This is not music: it is a cacophony. I am amazed that talented musicians, both the soloist and the orchestra members consent to demean themselves in this way. I trust it will never be performed again?
    Colin Turner

  • A Colin, I am sorry you didn't like the new Cello Concerto by Unsuk Chin.
    I can tell you that the soloist and conductor loved the piece - a far cry from feeling demeaned by performing it.
    This is what Andrew Clements wrote in the Guardian:
    "There are major premieres to come at the Proms next week from big hitters such as Andriessen and Glanert, but if either of those comes anywhere near Unsuk Chin's new Cello Concerto for originality, aural beauty and expressive depth, we shall be very lucky indeed. It's a major addition to the concerto repertory."
    I hope you enjoy some of the other new music in the Proms this year.

  • QCommissions etc.

    Who decides what and from whom the BBC commissions music? Arvo Pärt - late night prom next year? The greatest living composer perhaps.
    A. Asher

  • A I am ultimately responsible but, as you can probably tell from the range of commissions, it is not one person who decides but rather a combination of ideas and decisions involving me, my colleagues in the Proms, Radio 3 and our BBC performing groups, as well as external orchestras and publishers and composers themselves.
    Thanks for the Arvo Pärt suggestion.
    I'm not announcing anything at this stage about next year's Proms but hope you're not disappointed when you see the plans next April.

  • QFirst night programme

    I particularly enjoyed Elgar's In the South. But the whole programme was too bitty - and rather long - for the opening concert of a major festival. Would you consider returning to a format which includes a choral 'blockbuster'? Some years ago there was a great performance of Mahler's 8th - a perfect start!
    John Philpott

  • A John, We have had a good response to our gala festival opener introducing some of the performers and musical threads at this year's Proms. However, I can assure you that we look afresh at the following years' plans and will not stick to the same patterns and ideas every season. So I hope you enjoy next year's First Night which was planned some time ago.

  • QWhere are the Nordic concerts?

    Why are the Nordic countries being ignored this year? Sibelius 1 & 5 are there, but absolutely nothing else. For lovers of the music from this part of the world this is the worst season for a long, long time.

    In addition, I'm sorry to say that there are virtually no concerts that truly excite me - each has at least one off-putting piece that can be heard many times over elsewhere.
    Steve Williams

  • A Steve, I am sorry that none of the 95 concerts (I'm excluding the Proms in the Parks) excite you. We have great audiences so far, good reviews and wonderful ovations in the hall. We are not consciously ignoring Nordic music this year, it is simply that sometimes the plans do not move in that direction and artists do not offer certain areas of repertoire. We did not choose to exclude Bruckner or Britten last year - it just turned out that way. I hope there may be at least one concert that excites you next year!

  • QDisappointment at 2009 Proms programme

    How disappointed my wife & I are in this years' and last years Prom programmes. Where are the Beethoven evenings which used to be on Fridays with an overture, concerto, and a symphony when we could sit back and listen to the magical music? We are not at all interested in your national orchestras playing their weird music or for that matter the modern music of the times, interspersed with the great music. We know there is a market for the avant-garde but please in future programmes put all these concerts together and bring back more Beethoven, Mozart, Hayden, and similar greats.
    Roy Baker

  • A Roy, There are a number of different types of programmes in 2009 and, judging by audiences this year, there are many people who have enjoyed the mix of pieces and having new works to discover.
    The Proms festival has always included new work (Henry Wood used to call them his 'novelties') and we are proud to carry on that grand tradition. I hope you have at least been able to enjoy the music of our four anniversary composers this year and enjoy the programmes next year.

  • QStephen Hough's encore?

    I'd love to know the name of that delightful Mompou encore Stephen played after the Tchaikovsky the other night.
    Doug Smith

  • A It was indeed a delight. It is by Federico Mompou and called Jeunes Filles au Jardin. In case you would like to find details of further encores this year, they'll be listed here soon after the concerts.

  • QWhat was an MGM Prom doing in the Proms programme?

    Why are we subjected to this evening of 'pop' so called music? It is an insult to put such a concert on. This concert should be on Radio 2 - not on what one would hope to be a concert of serious, classical music.
    Maureen Roca

  • QCan we make the MGM Prom an annual event?

    It was one of the most original and brilliant Proms ever. Congratulations on giving John Wilson the support to meticulously prepare and re-construct those amazing scores. That orchestra was sublime. I gather there was a wealth of talent drawn from some pretty high powered orchestras including the Concertgebouw. Is that true?
    Hywel David

  • A Maureen and Hywel, Perhaps I should leave the two of you to argue about the MGM Prom! Light music has regularly been performed at the Proms and so this MGM evening was nothing new. What was new was the John Wilson Orchestra making its debut at the Proms, and we have been inundated with positive feedback (see also the next question). We had almost double the audience (just short of 2 million) on TV for this concert compared to the opening night so it clearly touched the hearts of many - you were not alone Hywel. I suspect we can't make the MGM Proms an annual event but I hope we will have John back before long.
    The orchestra was indeed hand-picked and I know that one of the players is from the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra.

  • QMGM DVD?

    Any chance of producing a CD/DVD of Prom 22: The musicals of MGM, performed by John Wilson's Orchestra and various artists?
    John Evans and over 150 of you who emailed the Proms in box!

  • A BBC Worldwide have no plans to release it on DVD at the moment, but I hope you caught it on the BBC iPlayer. Should there be any future plans for DVD release, details will be announced by BBC Worldwide.

  • QRepetitive programme

    I am curious about the choice of composers and music year-in and year-out, regardless of whether there is an overall theme for the season.
    If I am right, the following are included every year:

    Beethoven - Symphony No 9 (Choral)
    Berlioz - Symphonie Fantastique
    Mendelssohn - Violin Concerto
    Schumann - Piano Concerto
    Brahms - Violin Concerto
    Mahler - Song Cycle: usually Das Lied von der Erde; also several symphonies, probably more than any other composer
    Debussy - La Mer
    Mussorgsky - Pictures at an Exhibition
    Elgar - Enigma Variations
    Stravinsky - The Rite of Spring

    I love listening to all these compositions, but are they more worthy of this status than so much other music?
    Stuart Money

  • A Stuart, These works do not always appear every year but they are popular with conductors, orchestras and audiences so it is perhaps not surprising that they crop up regularly in a festival the size of the Proms. There will of course be always members of the audience who are hearing these works for the first time - and these great works can take more than one outing.

  • QLast Night of the Proms & Sea Shanties

    I may be a bit dim, but do I detect that absence of the 'Sea Shanties' on the last night AGAIN?
    If it was good enough for Henry Wood, it should be good enough for us!
    Shantylessly yours,
    Peter Horsburgh (not a former Naval Personage...)

  • A Peter, The Henry Wood Sea Songs are indeed not included this year. Last year we substituted the Vaughan Williams Sea Songs which were much enjoyed and this year we are marking the Handel anniversary with a special Fireworks performance leading into Rule Britannia.
    As I mentioned last year the Last Night has had many different component parts over the years - and please don't think that the Sea Songs have gone for ever.

  • QDo American Orchestras cost more?

    Dear Roger,
    May I congratulate you on another great summer season! I prommed for the first time in my life this week and found it a revelatory experience. The digital coverage has also been excellent and allowed me to sit at home while feeling I'm not too far from the Royal Albert Hall.
    However a noticeable drawback of the economic downturn is the lack of American orchestras in this year's programme. Is the reason for this purely cost - either on your behalf or theirs - or simply because Prommers prefer the European orchestras? Do you think you could get away with having less American orchestras in the future even when the economy picks up?
    Felix Meston

  • A Felix, Glad you are enjoying the season so far and welcome to the world of promming!
    It is the not first time in recent years that we have had no American orchestras. This is not because of cost but simply that the touring plans for the orchestras didn't fall when we would have needed them. There is normally a greater cost associated with bringing orchestras from the USA compared to Europe. Certainly orchestras in the States are experiencing financial difficulties. It remains to be seen how the economic situation will unfold but we currently have plans with American orchestras in future seasons and I hope they won't be changed.

  • QPrevious Prom Programmes

    Can you settle a family argument? I was a regular prommer in the '70s and on one occasion, I think about 1976/7, I attended the opening night with my sister. I am convinced we heard Beethoven's 9th, but my sister insists that no season has ever been opened by Beethoven. Are you able to tell me if this is the case, or is there a web site I can go to with previous programming details?
    Hope you can help.
    Liz Mason

  • A Liz, I hope it helps to settle the family arguments when I tell you that Beethoven's 9th was the second part of the opening night (July 13th) in 2007.
    We have been working on our database for some time and hope to find a way to make it publicly available in due course. Watch this space!

  • QLack of early 20th Century English music

    Dear Roger,
    Why have we been starved of the orchestral works of some of England's finest? I know late Romanticism is old hat and rather sneered at but I could point to several great and worthy pieces that could be included in a Proms programme. Howells's early orchestral stuff is wonderful (especially the 1st Piano Concerto), as is Dyson: Symphony in G, the Violin Concerto and The Canterbury Pilgrims or Jerusalem.
    Please, please let us have at least one evening of these great works in the near future - or in 2011 if next year is all sewn up. Thank you.
    Crispin Pemberton

  • A Crispin, Thanks for the suggestions. I hope you have enjoyed the Bax, Finzi, Moeran, Delius, Holst, Vaughan Williams, Ferguson, Coleridge-Taylor, Stanford, Smyth so far this year and last year. There are some pretty substantial orchestral and choral works amongst those listed but I recognise that when you love one corner of the repertoire there will never be enough of it for you.
    I was particularly thrilled when Vassily Sinasky agreed to conduct the Moeran and Finzi this year as, with the sad passing of Richard Hickox and Vernon Handley, there are not so many senior conductors who are willing to learn this repertoire.

  • QInternational Broadcast

    When will Proms start broadcasting live via the internet for international listeners and viewers? The Berliner Philharomiker are very good at this - you can see and hear most of their concerts live online. Proms fans outside the UK can only listen and not watch concerts live from the Albert Hall. We're missing out!
    Tomaz Petkovski

  • A Tomaz, I am sorry that we are limited by our rights agreements and the restrictions on being able to make the BBC iPlayer available outside the UK. The service we offer is first and foremost for UK licence fee payers.

  • QPromote young British conductors

    I am alarmed by the discrepancy between the amount of undiscovered/unused conducting talent in this country and their representation at recent proms seasons.
    It seems that British orchestras are unwilling to hire home-grown talent, many of whom have had conservatoire training at the highest levels. Many young conductors must seek work abroad for lack of opportunity in this country. As Director of the Proms and Controller of Radio 3 how would you help to change this situation?
    Mark Mortimer

  • A Mark, I can't change this situation but we do engage British conductors on a regular basis with our BBC orchestras and at the Proms. Just this season we have among others (and in no particular order) David Atherton, John Eliot Gardiner, Edward Gardner, Oliver Knussen, Martyn Brabbins, Andrew Carwood, Sir Andrew Davis, Stephen Cleobury, Sir Mark Elder, David Hill, Sir Roger Norrington, etc.
    Music is an international language and I suppose I would only add that I consider that we are fortunate at the moment to have so many world class international figures working with British orchestras and at the Proms.

  • QMore guitar music

    I'm a big fan of the classical guitar. It would be fantastic to have a Prom showcasing guitar concertos (or a series of Proms, each with a guitar concerto). My favourite is the Villa-Lobos, which I have never heard live. John Williams once played a concerto by Patrick Gowers live on Radio 3 many years ago called the Stevie Concerto - a super piece. A further master is Brouwer, say his Leige concerto. It would be great to have them played by the younger stars of the guitar world, such as Manuel Barreuco or David Russell.
    Paul McGale

  • A Paul, It is good to have your suggestions - my chief concern is whether or not the Royal Albert Hall is an ideal space for the presentation of these works. There are certain pieces (and not solely for guitar - it is true of other stringed instruments as well) that simply do not sound at their best in the space.

  • QNew music putting off new Prommers

    Why do you continue to programme newly commissioned pieces alongside established works like Beethoven? My enjoyment of some recent concerts was considerably undermined by having to endure 25 or more minutes of dirge, and my sister is reconsidering whether to go to future proms after a similar experience. I think your policy puts people off modern music only more, and may deter them from attending Proms.
    Steve Patevans

  • A Steve, New music has always played an important part in the Proms (think of all the new works Sir Henry Wood premiered). We never seek to put off new Prommers - indeed there are many who say that they enjoy the sense of discovery that a new or unfamiliar work brings. I don't expect everyone to like every new work (or indeed every standard piece of repertoire!) but it is important to maintain the Proms' century- long tradition of keeping the repertoire as fresh as possible.


Your Suggestions


  • QMore jazz and world music at the Proms please

    Somewhat half-hearted attempts have been made in recent years (especially last year) to bring in jazz and world music to the Proms. This year, apart from Stan Tracey, who is almost as old as I am (78), there is little or nothing. Jazz is frequently referred to as 'the most important music of the 20th century'. Do you have the mistaken belief that it is only of interest to drug-crazed young tearaways or moronic pop addicts? I have been listening to modern jazz for more than 60 years. Please be more courageous in future! You will be surprised and will not lose money. Also, you will serve better the millions of us living too far from London to hear this kind of music, other than on Radio 3. Congratulations, though, on the remainder of the overwhelmingly classical programme, to which I shall listen with interest.
    David Ward

  • A David, There are some members of the audience who think we shouldn't have anything other than classical music at the Proms so I am pleased you enjoy the jazz and world music we occasionally offer. I certainly don't have the belief about jazz you describe, as I know how much our R3 audience (of all ages) enjoys it.

  • QEngaging young people through modern classical music

    Much is often said about how classical music needs to do more to engage young people if it is to ensure its survival and flourishing in the decades to come. As a young person (17) who has been attending the Proms for several years, i have usually found it remarkable to see another person my age there who hasn't obviously been dragged along by their parents. Last year, however, i noticed lots of young people leaving a Prom of works by Stockhausen - proof that young people can best be brought into classical music through showing more avant-garde works and less of an established repertoire.

    While the Proms has a tradition of placing new works alongside old favourites, it still strikes me as an overwhelmingly middle-aged affair - something which needs to change. Will you consider putting together more Proms of exclusively contemporary music in the main evening slot - as was done with last year's Stockhausen Prom - rather than relegating it to perhaps a 10-minute work in a Prom of 1hr45, or to the late-evening slot? I strongly feel more prominence for contemporary music would be the way to engage more young people.
    Leo Watkins

  • A Leo, We always look for new ways of introducing young audiences to classical music. Our Free Family Prom had the youngest audience I can remember - and the radio audience might have heard the babies gurgling and squealing!
    Our Evolution Proms also attracted a very young audience and the music we presented was only from the last 70 years or so, including premiere performances.
    I hope that we will get a good audience for the Birtwistle Mask of Orpheus which we have coupled with Jonny Greenwood and Stravinsky. There is of course some music which seems to work particularly well late night (this year the Glass, Crumb and Nyman concerts).

  • QMore brass bands!

    Once again we do not see one of our elite Brass Bands at the Proms. Why? Brass bands do more for community music and getting young people into playing a musical instrument than all of the other UK genres of music put together. When a youngster joins a band or anyone for that matter gets free tuition and loan of an instrument. It is very poor that there is no representation from the Brass Band world. It just adds to the notion of snobbish elitism of the world of classic music.
    John Bray

  • A John, I hope we will find some ways of including brass bands in future seasons. It is not snobbish elitism on our part but we can't cater to all tastes every year.

  • QPrams in the Park

    Next year, why not run a series of concerts aimed at under 5s? My daughters aged 2 and a half and 1 both love music, and it's such an important part of a child's development. Having spoken to other parents in my community, I am sure that such an event would be a success.
    Helen Jones

  • A Helen, As I have mentioned above our free family Prom attracted a large under 5s audience and there were many in the Evolution Proms. We will continue to develop ideas for young audiences - in the meantime you might want to look out for our BBC orchestras and BBC Singers learning activities.


Broadcasts


  • QBuying recordings of Proms

    Is it possible to buy audio CDs of recorded Proms? I'm particularly interested in the Indian Night of 1994. I attended the morning Prom of Indian music today and have the same question for today's programme: are these recorded and available to buy? If not, why not?
    Mateen Zaki

  • A Mateen, Some Proms are available on archive and historic labels, but they are exceptions rather than rules. This is normally because of the rights not being available or that they would coast too much to issue and that the limited market would not make them a viable proposition.

  • QTV/Radio/Internet coverage

    Roger. My wife and I are regular arena Prommers and appreciate the energy and revitalisation which you have brought this year. I have 2 questions so will try to keep them short. Firstly it would be great if you would use a static camera (like maestro cam) for all proms with just a wide stage view and incorporate it into the iplayer service. So many proms (eg Fairy Queen, Patience, Indian Voices) would be enhanced by this and are not being covered on TV. If funding is a problem it could be covered by reducing the 8 cameras for BBC Two to the 5 you have for BBC Four! Secondly can you put a download facility on the iplayer please? I forgot to record the Philip Glass prom, the Toltec Symphony is not yet recorded so I cannot buy a CD, and I am therefore restricted to your seven day listening period on the iplayer. Many thanks.
    Stephen Day

  • A Stephen, Thanks for your kind words. It is the Proms team which deserves your thanks and I know they'll be pleased to read your comments.
    I shall certainly pass on your views about cameras to TV colleagues. We have limitations on what we can place on iPlayer but we'll be discussing the TV and interactive coverage at the end of the season so it is helpful to have your feedback. I feel certain that the cost of the additional coverage (because it is also a question of buying the rights) would not be met by the reduction of cameras on BBC 2 nights.
    I'm sorry that you missed the Glass concert. We are not allowed by the BBC Trust to offer downloads of classical music. There are of course also rights implications in this matter as well but the ruling by the BBC trust prevents us fro offering downloads on Radio 3. I hope that the Symphony will be recorded for you to enjoy in the future.

  • QCan you simplify the Proms TV coverage?

    Can we not just have a channel which broadcasts the proms in full, with no 'expert comment' and gives us all the music and a simple single shot of the stage which encompasses the whole performance? The Proms is NOT a visual feast - it is feast for the ears and mind and if we just had a simple picture it would more than suffice. After all, BBC does have a multitude of channels so could devote just one to this cause for the duration of the Proms, and my suggestion would cost far less than having a full production every time, and for me anyway, would be FAR more enjoyable.
    Philip Thomas

  • QTelevising Proms

    What are the constraints which stop you from using BBC4 as another regular channel for Proms broadcast? It seems a waste of a tailor-made resource, especially for events like the Glyndebourne opera - The Fairy Queen on radio, while good to hear, clearly left the radio audience out in the cold and, in our case, feeling more than a little resentful.
    David Samuels

  • A Philip and David, Whilst you would like a TV channel dedicated to the Proms, there are many regular TV viewers who do not want their choice restricted in this way. We do not have a limitless number of channels and so hard choices have to be made. The regularity of the slots on BBC 2 and BBC 4 seems to be very much appreciated. (And you can hear all the concerts on Radio 3!)

  • QFirst night TV coverage

    Why was the presentation on TV of the First Night such a shambles? Why was it entrusted to a comedian who seems to know little about music and who constantly cut across the two 'experts'? Why have two 'experts' who rarely get to say more than a sentence or two before giving way to someone who is interviewing one of the perfomers? Perhaps things will improve when Charles Hazlehurst get his chance - but oh for the days when Stephanie Hughes used to present; she did know what she was talking about.
    Wesley McCann

  • A Wesley, I am sorry that you did not like the First Night presentation. I will make certain that my TV colleagues see your feedback. I hope you have enjoyed the other TV broadcasts since then.

  • QG & S Prom

    Why is the G & S prom not being televised?
    Tim Kingscote-Davies

  • A Tim, We cannot televise all the Proms (see answer above) and so we have to make hard choices.

  • QProms advert on TV

    What is the music on BBC1 advertising the Proms (the one with the paper blowing around)?

  • A We've had lots of emails about the music in the 'Catch every note' Proms advert! The soundtrack to the TV ad is the Second Movement of Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No.1 in B flat minor. It was performed in Prom 31 on Saturday 8 August by Stephen Hough.

  • QRed button

    Last year I enjoyed using the red button to go interactive during the Proms, and learned a lot about performers, conductors, composers, and the music itself. Why is this feature not available on TV this year?
    John Adams

  • A John, We have different interactive offers each year, depending on resources available. The web site is a richer mix of material now (including all the printed programmes) and the 'MaestroCam' interactive option features as part of our red button this year.

  • QTV Proms presenters!

    There is no doubt that the Radio 3 presenters are experts in the field of classical music, so I prefer to listen to their commentary and watch on BBC4. However I object to the Proms presenters for BBC 1&2, who have little or no knowledge of classical music and are merely celebrities! Surely it would be more cost effective to have the Radio 3 presenters for both radio & TV broadcasts? I cannot understand why the BBC panders to populist desire to have celebrities as presenters, even for the Proms. Also, why doesn't BBC4 broadcast more proms in conjunction with Radio 3?
    Finally, please do not broadcast the final night of the Proms - it is truly ghastly, the jingoism expressed in Land of Hope & Glory is truly embarrassing! I boycott the final night of the Proms on principle.
    Ms. Susan Fox

  • A Susan, I have mentioned in a previous answer that I will give your feedback regarding TV presentation to my TV colleagues. There are different requirements for radio and TV presentation - often when we have tried to have one commentary for both platforms it has compromised the presentation in trying to satisfy the sometimes conflicting demands. It is also the case that often TV has to defer its broadcasts to a later schedule than radio and so it is not possible to link the two.
    I am sorry that you don't enjoy the Last Night. You will simply have to leave the millions who do enjoy it to have their evening as I am not going to deny them their pleasure - my in tray and in box would collapse for ever!


Tickets


  • QLast Night of the Proms - on a budget

    I have a family of 4 and wish to experience 'live' the last night of the Proms. It's too expensive to buy tickets to Proms in the Park for the whole family. Any suggestions of seeing the Proms for less money?
    Keith Gentry

  • A Keith, The Last Night is arguably the most popular classical music concert in the world and so it is not surprising that demand exceeds capacity. We keep the ticket prices as cheap as we can - at least you can experience it live on TV and radio but I hope that you may be lucky to catch it in person one year.


Instruments


  • QHandel 15 August - organ

    Can you please tell me how the chamber organ played with The Sixteen on 15 August was powered? Thanks!
    Sandra MacLeod

  • A Sandra, It was an electrically powered chamber organ.

  • QQuestion about Musical Instrument

    My family and I went travelling in London from Tokyo last 2 weeks. As my 8 year old son loves music, we went to Prommed on 4 August. It was wonderful and we really enjoyed it! My son was just fascinated by the performance especially the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto. He had a question: what was the musical instrument seen on the left side of the stage, behind the harp? It had four (2x2) big rectangular metal plates hung down from perhaps 2 or 3 meters high perpendicularly, and I saw a player behind it playing something like glockenspiel.
    Mio Takei

  • A Mio Takei, they are just what you describe - metal sheets or metal plates - which can be used as percussion instruments and shaken and beaten - and can be different sizes.

  • QUnknown Instrument

    I was watching Handel's 250th anniversary prom and saw an instrument that looked like a lute but had a really long neck. I have never seen one like this before and it caused much discussion within the family. Can you tell me the name of this instrument or is it actually a lute?
    Emily Deller

  • QInstrument question

    Wonderful evening of Handel on August 12. Thank you. Quick question: to the left of the harp was an long necked plucked string instrument. Was this a lute/theorbo?
    Justin O'Callaghan

  • QInstruments

    What is the name of the instrument that resembles a giant guitar with sympathetic strings in baroque music, played unbowed?
    Carole

  • A Emily/Justin/Carole, It was a theorbo - a wonderful instrument.


Various


  • QWhose voice?

    I should be grateful if you would help me settle a small dispute with fellow Prommers.

    Whose voice is it in this season's recorded 'please turn off your mobile phones' announcement which is used in the Albert Hall just before each Prom starts?
    Many thanks.
    Pamela Bowman

  • A Pamela, I think it is best to let you Prommers settle your own disputes! However I am happy to give you the answer. It is Rob Cowan. Andrew McGregor recorded the announcement last year.

  • QAudience chants

    Hello, maybe this is a stupid question. I am a proms fan but I am not British. I live outside the UK and can only listen to the concerts, not watch them. My question is: what are members of the audience reciting during each (?) concert in the beginning? I can definitely hear it. What are they saying?
    Alex

  • A Alex, There are different chants or announcements that the Prommers use. One is the traditional "Heave" from the arena area replied to by "Ho" from the gallery, when the piano lid is lifted. There is also an announcement at the start of the second half when the Prommers inform the audience of their collection for musical charities. If there are any Prommers reading this perhaps they would like to add some more to our site about their chants. The Prommers also occasionally shout a greeting at visiting foreign orchestras in their language.

  • QVisits by the Royal Family

    I noticed with pleasure that HRH The Prince of Wales attended Prom 8 in celebration of the 800th anniversary of Cambridge. How often do members of the Royal Family find time to enjoy the Proms? I found the National Anthem at the start of the program very well done.
    Ed Martin

  • A Ed, Members of the Royal Family occasionally attend the Proms. At the Cambridge Prom, HRH The Prince of Wales had been invited to attend as a former student of the University. The splendid National Anthem arrangement (dedicated to the Prince) was by Sir David Willcocks, who also attended the concert.

  • QThank you!

    Thank you very much for a fantastic first night at the Proms. I have never been before and as a treat took my grandmother. We both had a fabulous night and I will definitely be coming back again.

    On a slightly more concerned note I believe that you must have been putting in a huge amount of work preparing for the Proms and I'm guessing you are expected to attend as many as possible. With this in mind I would very generously like to offer to go in your stead to Prom 60 and the last night to prevent you from burn out.
    Martin Parish

  • A Martin, I am glad that you enjoyed the First Night. I look forward to seeing you again during this year's festival. It is SO kind of you to offer to help me by sitting in my seat at some Proms but I have been involved in planning them (as you know) and I know how good they are going to be so don't want to miss out on them! Lovely offer!

  • QDress for the occasion!

    Whilst in this day and age it is clearly not expected that the presenter of Prom 10, Charles Hazlewood, should turnout in white tie & tails, or even black tie, when presenting and interviewing artists, is it appropriate to carry 'dressing down' to the extent of looking as if he had just rolled out of bed and pulled on the first pullover which came to hand? There may be occasions when such informality is appropriate but a white tie concert by the dress conscious Orchestre National de Lyon on TV is not one of them! Smarten up and recognise the quality of this historic festival!
    Nigel Grieve

  • QDress code

    The BBC Philharmonic Orchestra can take the trouble to dress in white tie: your presenter Mr Hazlewood should at least wear a coat and tie. This is typical of the BBC's dumbing-down all over.
    R Pavitt

  • A Nigel and R Pavitt, There is no audience dress code at the Proms - and there isn't for presenters or performers either. I am sorry that you were so distracted by Charles' attire and that of the BBC Philharmonic on these occasions and hope it didn't stop you enjoying the music. They were not intending to be disrespectful to the festival which has been renowned for its informality throughout its 114 year history.

  • QFountain

    Why is there a pond in the arena? And is it getting bigger?
    Tim Greig

  • A Tim, The fountain (as it is commonly known) has been a significant well loved feature of the Promenade arena area over the decades.
    There was a similar feature in the Queen's Hall and it was felt to be appropriate to install one in the Royal Albert Hall when the Proms moved there during the Second World War. It is not getting bigger - although I think some the plastic animals placed it in seem to be growing! I wonder if the Promenaders have any particularly good memories about the fountain that they would like to share on this site?

  • QConcert dress for men

    Why black shirts for the National Youth orchestra and chorus members while the orchestra still look as they should do? The NYO used to look really nice in their white shirts and ties! Even the girls were in boring black!
    John Woodhouse

  • A John, This is a question we can pass on to the NYO - it was their chosen dress for the evening, not under instruction from us.


Thank you for your questions

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