The world's largest and longest running annual music festival opened at London's historic Royal Albert Hall last week. With no less than 92 concerts packed into the next eight weeks, visitors can choose from a remarkably diverse variety of orchestral and choral works by historic and contemporary classical composers, lighter music from the golden era of MGM Hollywood, Gospel, even Rap and 1970s Punk; an eclectic mix that would have delighted Sir Henry Wood, who founded the promenade concert festival in back 1895.
The annual Proms season , which the BBC took over in 1927, celebrate a number of anniversaries this year with performances by renowned visiting orchestras, performers and conductors from around the world.
Argentinian born Conductor Daniel Barenboim celebrates the bicentenary of German Richard Wagner's birth with performances of his four Ring Cycle operas by the Staatscapelle Berlin, soloists and chorus. The bicentenary of Italian Guiseppe Verdi, who together with Wagner shaped the development of 19th century opera, is celebrated by conductor Sir Antonio Pappano, soprano Maria Agresta and the Orchestra and Chorus of the Academy of Santa Cecilia, Rome. The Queen's 60th Coronation anniversary is remembered by the resident BBC Symphony Orchestra and chorus, and works by British composers Edward Elgar, Isaac Walton and Benjamin Britten, whose centenary also falls this year.
Interesting firsts for 2013 include a Gospel Prom, an Urban Prom featuring rapper Fazer and 1970s punk rockers The Stranglers, (who would surely have raised the eyebrow of founder Sir Henry). The newly formed National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America make their European and Proms debut with a performance of a work which by rising American star Sean Shepherd.
And finally a great 'first' for gifted American conductor Marin Alsop, who was a pupil of Leonard Bernstein. She will conduct the prestigious, flag waving, 'Last Night of the Proms', reaching audiences around the world on 7 September.
"I think the fact that I'm an American woman, conducting the Last Night of the Proms is really a statement," Alsop tells us. "I'm extraordinarily proud to be the first woman, but I'm also sad that it's 2013 and there still can be firsts for women," she added. Agreed!