Classical Chat: Standing room as the Proms are back

The BBC Proms. Photo: Peter Macdiarmid/PA Wire
The BBC Proms. Photo: Peter Macdiarmid/PA Wire

The middle of summer can mean only one thing for classical music fans: the BBC Proms are back!

Many people only know of the Proms through its Last Night: an odd mixture of invented tradition and flag-waving that obsesses and horrifies in equal part.

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Before that, though, comes eight weeks of the most glorious music, with top orchestras and stars performing to a packed Royal Albert Hall.

And if you can get to London, you too can join in the fun. Sit in the queue during the afternoon and you can stand in the famous Arena for just a few pounds. The same goes for every concert.

The Proms puts on old favourites, huge masterpieces, neglected gems and lots of contemporary music. There is nothing quite like it. And it all got under way on Friday with a distinctly home-grown concert featuring composers such as Holst and Anna Meredith.

Here are some concerts music fans should definitely be tuning into the radio for this summer:

Prom 8 (July 20). The overlooked female composer Lili Boulanger’s orchestral music is showcased alongside Schumann, Morfynn Owen and Mendelssohn.

Prom 11 (July 23). The Albert Hall is an ideal location for big pieces and they don’t come much vaster than Mahler’s Symphony No.8, known as The Symphony of a Thousand for the enormous orchestral and vocal forces required.

Proms 29 and 30 (August 5 and 6). Bach’s beautiful Brandenburg Concertos are presented alongside contrasting new pieces.

Prom 65 (August 31). An intriguing programme of Ravel’s celebration of the waltz La Valse, Berio’s kaleidoscopic Sinfonia and Stravinsky’s best-known ballet The Rite of Spring, performed by the BBC Symphony Orchestra.

Prom 73 (September 6). Late-night rapture from the Tallis Scholars singing the ethereal and unforgettable music of the medieval and Renaissance periods. A true journey back in time.

For the full listings see www.bbc.co.uk/proms