Proms 2016 to feature performance on top floor of Peckham car park

Proms director David Pickard reveals new series called ‘Proms at ...’ which will see music performed away from Albert Hall

The minimalist music of Steve Reich will be performed on the top floor of Peckham’s municipal multi-storey car park as part of the 122nd BBC Proms season.

Unveiling his first season in charge, the Proms director, David Pickard, revealed a new series called “Proms at...” which will see music performed away from the Royal Albert Hall.

Peckham’s multi-storey car park is an established arts venue with a resident orchestra so was, Pickard said, an ideal – if eye-catching – location.

“There is something very exciting about hearing music in a different type of space,” he said. “The Proms is an international festival, it is a national festival but I think it is also a festival for London so let’s take it away from South Kensington and take it to other bits of London where I think we will find a different type of audience... certainly in Peckham.”

Pickard said he saw Beethoven’s Eroica performed at the car park last year and the average age of the audience was, wonderfully, around 23 or 24. “It was diverse in every way and had an amazing atmosphere, it is a very special place.”

The Multi-Story Orchestra, conducted by Christopher Stark, will perform three pieces by Reich, a composer chosen because of his musical interest in urban culture and life.

The series will also see Shakespeare-inspired works by Purcell performed in the tiny Sam Wanamaker Playhouse at Shakespeare’s Globe; religious music by Rossini in the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich, and new work by the British composer David Sawer at the Roundhouse in Camden.

Pickard, previously general director of Glyndebourne, announced a season of more than 90 concerts over eight weeks this summer for what is the world’s biggest and longest-running music festival.

Continuing the trend of pairing Proms to BBC TV series – Doctor Who and Horrible Histories for example – this year’s season will see the first Strictly Prom. It will be presented by Katie Derham, who will also dance, and feature professional dancers from Strictly Come Dancing and music performed by the BBC Concert Orchestra.

Will it be the campest Prom? Pickard was asked. “Let’s hope so,” he replied.

Other highlights this year will be a celebration of the cello over the whole season with ten concertos including the world premiere of Huw Watkins Cello Concerto, performed by the composer’s brother Paul Watkins.

The BBC Symphony Orchestra’s chief conductor, Sakari Oramo, will lead both the first and last night of the Proms with Peruvian soloist Juan Diego Florez booked as the star soloist on the last night.

The 2016 official guide is published and goes online on Wednesday and will be pored over by Proms fans for highlights.

These might include Bernard Haitink conducting Mahler’s Symphony No 3 with the London Symphony Orchestra in what will be his 88th Prom; the Lithuanian conductor Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla making her Proms debut with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra before she becomes its music director in September; or seeing soloists such as Stephen Hough, Bryn Terfel and Alisa Weilerstein.

Or they might include the less obviously classical music events such as the planned David Bowie Prom, a Gospel Prom, a Quincy Jones Prom and a Jamie Cullum Prom.


Mark Brown Arts correspondent

The GuardianTramp

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