Bad hair day: BBC leaks the Proms

Bad hair day: BBC leaks the Proms


norman lebrecht

April 23, 2015

First there was the Friday drop to the Sunday Times, confiding that Marin Alsop will conduct the Last Night again.

Then there was yesterday’s delivery of Proms brochures to news agents, allowing Londoners to see the menu before it was officially announced.

Now the Proms booking site has gone live, an hour before scheduled and long before it can be spun by BBC PRs.

So it’s confirmed that Jonas Kaufmann will sing the Last Night with the Duchess of Glyndebourne.

The BBC has thoroughly botched this year’s Proms launch. Expect an internal inquiry. Underlings will be interrogated. No bald heads will roll.

kaufmann fischer

UPDATE: See also here and here.


UPDATE 2: Here comes the spin:

The BBC Proms today announces full details of its 2015 season, marking the 120th anniversary of the world’s largest and longest-running music festival. Opening at the Royal Albert Hall on Friday 17 July 2015, the BBC Proms presents two months of many of the world’s greatest artists, composers, orchestras and ensembles across 92 concerts, including four Last Night celebrations around the UK.


The piano takes a starring role in the 2015 Proms with over 25 solo pianists featuring across the season. The complete Beethoven piano concertos will be performed by celebrated pianist Leif Ove Andsnes and the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, bringing their award-winning cycle to the Proms in the culmination of a four-year exploration of the works. For the first time ever at the Proms, Prokofiev’s five piano concertos are performed in the same concert, by three renowned pianists: Alexei Volodin, Sergei Babayan and Daniil Trifonov, and six of Mozart’s late piano concertos are performed by a roster of starry pianists, including Maria João Pires and Elisabeth Leonskaja, while Katia and Marielle Labèque will play Mozart’s Concerto for two pianos.


In the Proms’ enduring spirit of opening the world of classical music to new audiences, for the first time the Proms introduces regular Sunday matinees at the Royal Albert Hall, presenting a series of engaging concerts designed to provide an introduction to classical music for all ages. The series begins with two concerts celebrating the first year of BBC Music’s classical music initiative for primary schools, Ten Pieces, featuring performances of the Ten Pieces as well as children’s creative responses to the works. Sir David Attenboroughnarrates a Prom inspired by his television series Life Story, with the BBC Concert Orchestra performing Murray Gold’s soundtrack to the programmes, and Eric Whitacre leads the European premiere of his latest choral and orchestral work, Deep Field, a BBC co-commission inspired by the other-worldly photographs of distant galaxies sent back to earth from the Hubble Space Telescope, in a concert that also features current BBC Young Musician Martin James Bartlett.


Two of Scandinavia’s most feted composers, Carl Nielsen and Jean Sibelius, are celebrated across the season in the 150th anniversary of their births. Both composers are represented on the First Night of the season, before Nielsen’s three concertos for clarinet, flute and violin are performed in addition to all seven of Sibelius’s symphonies. 


The Proms Lecture by neuroscientist and author Daniel Levitin explores how our brains make and remember music as part of a season-long exploration of the musical mind, which sees the Aurora Orchestra return to the Proms for a performance of Beethoven’s ‘Pastoral’ Symphony from memory, a Prom dedicated to the complex and musical mind of Sherlock Holmes, and a roster of artists performing mentally-challenging solo recitals, including an heroic performance of all of Bach’s cello suites in one Late Night Prom by Yo-Yo Ma.


The solo instrumental works of J.S. Bach are further explored in the intimate and versatile setting of the Late Night Proms throughout the season, as violinist Alina Ibragimova performs the complete Bach Sonatas and Partitas over two evenings, and pianist Sir András Schiff performs Bach’s ‘Goldberg’ Variations. Thierry Escaich also performs works by Bach and his own improvisations on themes by Bach in a solo organ recital.


The 90th birthday this year of Pierre Boulez is celebrated in a series of concerts, including two dedicated Proms Saturday Matinees at Cadogan Hall, performed by the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group and the London Sinfonietta, and featuring the UK premiere of three of Boulez’s piano Notations arranged for orchestra by Johannes Schöllhorn. Inspired by Boulez’s forward-thinking spirit, the concerts also include premieres by three young composers, new to the Proms. Also at Cadogan Hall, percussionist Dame Evelyn Glennie celebrates her 50th birthday with a self-curated Proms Chamber Music concert.


The Proms’ ongoing commitment to New Music is demonstrated with 21 world premieres in 2015 (13 of which are BBC commissions) and a further 11 European, UK and London premieres. The BBC Philharmonic performs the world premiere of a newly discovered work by Messiaen, while other new works during the season include the world premiere of James MacMillan’s Symphony No. 4 and a new string quartet by Colin Matthews, as well as a Last Night commission for Eleanor Alberga, and works from Michael Finnissy, Alissa Firsova, Shiori Usui and Hugh Wood. 


A series of Late Night Prom collaborations with five of the BBC’s national radio stations will showcase a coming-together of musical genres: Radio 1 presenter Pete Tong celebrates 20 years of the dance phenomenon that is Radio 1 in Ibiza in a concert underpinned by Jules Buckley and the Heritage Orchestra; Radio 1Xtra presents a grime symphony with artists including Wretch 32 and Krept & Konan;Jarvis Cocker leads a Radio 4 Prom based on his popular Wireless Nights series; 6 Music’s Mary Anne Hobbs presents a reimagining of classical music by Nils Frahm and A Winged Victory for the Sullen; and the Asian Network brings a new wave of contemporary Asian and Bollywood artists collaborating with the BBC Philharmonic. BBC Radio 2 also returns to the Proms for an evening concert presented by Clare Teal and showcasing the Story of Swing, featuring two big bands led by trumpeter Guy Barker and trombonist Winston Rollins.


Further highlights include two appearances by the John Wilson Orchestra, marking the 100th birthday year of Frank Sinatra withSeth MacFarlane as well as celebrating Leonard Bernstein’s music for stage and screen, and Bryn Terfel returns to the Proms for the festival premiere of Fiddler on the Roof in the first Proms partnership with Grange Park Opera.


Operas in the 2015 Proms season include Monteverdi’s Orfeo, Mozart’s The Abduction from the Seraglio from Glyndebourne Festival Opera, and the first Proms performance of the Prologue to Shostakovich’s unfinished satirical opera Orango.


Sir Simon Rattle conducts a performance of Elgar’s The Dream of Gerontius with the BBC Proms Youth Choir and the Vienna Philharmonic. Other leading conductors include Daniel Barenboim, Thomas Dausgaard, Andris Nelsons and Sakari Oramo. Soloists include Alison Balsom, Nicola Benedetti, Alice Coote, Nikolai Lugansky, Mitsuko Uchida and Roderick Williams.


In addition to the BBC Performing Groups, which once again provide the backbone to the season, a stellar line-up of international orchestras include the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Danish National Symphony Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony and Vienna Philharmonic.


Marin Alsop returns to the Last Night podium following her triumphant debut in 2013, to lead the BBC Symphony Orchestra, BBC Singers and BBC Symphony Chorus in the world-famous finale of the festival, alongside soloists soprano Danielle de Niese, tenor Jonas Kaufmann and pianist Benjamin Grosvenor. The Last Night radiates out from the Royal Albert Hall, embracing all four nations of the UK on Saturday 12 September, with Last Night events in Hyde Park (London), Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.


Henry Wood, the founder-conductor of the Proms, wanted to bring the best possible music to the widest possible audiences, and this vision remains true 120 years since the Proms were founded. With Promming tickets remaining at £5 for the tenth year running, and every Prom broadcast live on BBC Radio 3 alongside extensive television and digital coverage, audiences can enjoy the Proms whenever and wherever they are. 


In 2015 more Proms content is available online than ever before across PC, mobile and tablet. Music-lovers can listen to every Prom live and on-demand for 30 days in HD Sound and find everything they need to know about the 2015 BBC Proms season at


A brand-new BBC Proms Guide app provides a digital version of the printed Proms Guide, available for mobile and tablet devices on iOS and Android.  


Every Prom is broadcast live on BBC Radio 3, and in 2015 BBC Radio 1, Radio 1Xtra, Radio 2, Radio 4, Radio 6 Music and BBC Asian Network each broadcast Proms. Television broadcasts will go out on BBC One, BBC Two, BBC Four and CBBC. Proms Extra, the Saturday-evening magazine show, returns to BBC Two for its third season. 


Edward Blakeman, Director, BBC Proms 2015, says: ‘The BBC Proms is about the best of music and the breadth of music. It’s very exciting to launch this season knowing that we are continuing the original vision of Sir Henry Wood and offering so much that is fresh and new 120 years on. The BBC’s on-going commitment to running the festival allows the Proms to be one of the best value-for-money experiences anywhere, with £5 Promming tickets now remaining in place for the tenth year running. The summer of 2015 will be full of great music!’


Alan Davey, Controller, BBC Radio 3, says: ‘As always, BBC Radio 3 will be broadcasting every Prom live in 2015, and alongside our partners in television and online, we’re delighted to continue bringing the best classical music in the world to millions of music lovers across the UK. We are proud of the range of the Proms and the number of people who take the festival to their hearts and experience the thrill of great music.’


  • Ivor Morgan says:

    Some of the Boulez dates were inadvertently leaked during talks at the recent Boulez Day at the Barbican. I don’t know why Proms try to keep up this charade. “We know something you don’t know” Quite tedious

  • marguerite foxon says:

    I love your last two sentences Norman. Ha ha!