I attended the BBC Proms season launch this week. Over the past few years, the season launch has become as important a part of the calendar for me, almost as potent the first night itself. I always get excited when the invitation to the launch is sent in the post. I was surprisingly restless on Thursday, wanting proceedings to get underway.
The afternoon press briefing – this year on the fifth floor of the Royal College of Music looking out across to the Royal Albert Hall – was full. Journalists and bloggers scribbled down notes as Director Edward Blakeman spoke. Edward spoke gently but passionately about the season. It was the first time I’d heard the previously behind-the-scenes administrator speak about the programmes he clearly lovingly creates. He’s not the only one involved in the process, I’m sure, but there were moments in the press briefing when I felt we had a light shone on the heart of the Proms.
Amongst the ‘classical’ stuff there’s Prokofiev, Beethoven, Elgar’s Gerontius, and Nielsen which will consume my attention. I’m also pleased to see the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment doing Brahms 1 (my favourite symphony) and the Aurora Orchestra playing Beethoven’s Pastoral. Mitsuko Uchido‘s Prom including Schoenberg’s Piano Concerto and Shostakovich’s eighth symphony with the LPO is also something I’d like to get to. The late night Prom with cellist Yo Yo Ma is undoubtedly a must-see and will, I’m sure, be a sell-out soon after tickets go on sale. I can’t wait to see the San Francisco Symphony again – I last saw them in their home town in 2011. The Royal Scottish National Orchestra’s Bruckner 7 performance is also on my list.
Key messages from the season launch included the Sunday matinees and the radio network tie-ins. Surprising at it might seem, I’m pleased to see the return of the 6 Music Prom and the Radio 1 Prom with the Heritage Orchestra. I’m also interested in hearing the Jarvis Cocker partnership with the BBC Philharmonic in a prom scheduled for the last week – a gig no doubt built on the success of last year’s BBC Philharmonic Presents series up in Salford.
I’ll come back to the Proms towards the end of May after the madness of the Eurovision has passed. In the meantime, I felt I could let this special time of year pass without documenting something in video form. I haven’t made a video for ages. Making one about the Proms seems like a distant memory. Special as this time of year is (and encouraged by a follower on Twitter) I’ve made a video today. Technology has changed things considerably over the three or so years since I made the last one. This one is shot and edited entirely on an iPad.