BBC Proms – Virtual Proms Festival 2020

For its 125th anniversary, BBC launched virtual Proms— A Beethoven tribute by broadcasting six-weeks of previous Proms concerts on BBC Radio 3 and BBC Four. At the end of August, BBC will also hold a program of live performances from an empty Royal Albert Hall in London, reported Andrew Clements of The Guardian. The earliest concert from the archives dates back to when Leonard Bernstein conducted the Vienna Philharmonic at the Albert Hall in 1987. Other concerts in the line up include the Berlin Philharmonic, Royal Concertgebouw, and Staatskapelle Dresden, among several ones from recent years. The 2020 BBC Proms will continue until the 12th of September, 2020.

Fiona Maddocks of The Guardian reported that the opening night broadcasted Igor Levit’s performance of Beethoven’s Third Piano Concerto, with Edward Gardner conducting the BBC Symphony Orchestra. The line up had the rerun of Harrison Birtwistle’s saxophone, Panic, with soloist, John Harle, from the 1995 Proms, and the 2007 performance of Mahler’s Third Symphony by Claudio Abbado with contralto Anna Larsson and his Orchestra from Lucerne Festival. Additionally, Iain Farrington’s Beethoveniana was brand new for Proms. Beethoveniana featured 350 players from all five of the BBC orchestras who performed a six-minute virtual orchestra of a medley of themes from the nine Beethoven symphonies.

Maddocks reported the loss of the BBC Proms Guide in the virtual Proms of 2020. Along with containing itineraries and essays, the guide contains an indexed list of the works, composers, soloists, performers, ensembles of that year, and is considered a part of Proms history. However, some of the essays are available on the Proms website. Additionally, with audiences at home, experiencing archived Proms concerts – the “Prommers”, who raise money for musical charities at the exit doors of the venue, have had to take their fundraisers online – which Maddocks noted is a “far harder task”.

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