So the Proms 2013 programme came out yesterday. Here’s what I reckon.

The highlights are clearly Proms no.50 (Ilan Volkov conducts the BBC SSO in John White, Gerald Barry, Rzewski and Feldman), no.11 (Ex Cathedra reprise their triumphant Welt-Parlament from MITTWOCH last year) and no.5 (Lachenmann’s Proms debut – Tanzsuite mit Deutschlandlied programmed beside Mahler 5). But no.25 (Aurora Orchestra play Zappa, Nancarrow and Glass) also looks fun.

I’m intrigued to see how the 6Music Prom (no.40) pans out; the Urban Classic Prom (no.37) looks flimsier.

There’s lots for Lutosławski fans, in his centenary year – much more than there was for Cage in 2012. Still no Livre pour orchestre – which I know will disappoint Adrian Thomas, and others.

Special mentions to a couple of other inclusions: both Pärt’s Cantus in memoriam Benjamin Britten (Prom 67) and Górecki’s Symphony of Sorrowful Songs (Prom 71) should sound lush from up in the gods. Another big new Birtwistle is nice to see (Chamber Prom 5), and I’m interested to hear Pintscher’s double trumpet concerto (Prom 48) and Eötvös’s violin concerto for Midori (Prom 63). As Simon Cummings points out, it’s also interesting that several of the BBC commissions (Adès, Khan, Sohal) are for pieces of substantial length. Thumbs up too that a lot of the new music events have been moved back into the main evening programmes, and not shunted out into the matinees and chamber proms, as they have been in the past.

The biggest disappointments are the notable absences: four major composers passed away last year – Carter, Harvey, Henze and Nunes. Only Henze (nos.26 and 37) is represented in the programme. I would have been surprised if any Nunes had been included, but Carter’s absence seems like a major oversight; Harvey’s even more so, given that this is a British festival. I realise there wouldn’t have been time to devise a substantial memorial to either composer given that they died only late last year. But since the programmes aren’t finalised until February or even March, there should have been time to squeeze one or two small works in. A pity no one thought to do so. Harvey’s music in particular seems made for the RAH’s acoustic.

Here’s a quick guide to the whole lot for new music fans. No stylistic filters, just a list of all Proms featuring a living composer, or one predominantly active since the 1960s or so:

2 thoughts on “#promsnewmusic

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