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Thursday, 26 April, 2001, 08:57 GMT 09:57 UK
Countryside theme for Proms
The Proms
Organisers want to make the Proms more accessible
The BBC's annual Proms season is set to have a pastoral theme - in celebration of the countryside.

By the time the Proms begin in July it is likely that the worst of the foot-and-mouth storm will be over, but the road to recovery will be just beginning for many farmers.

Proms director Nicholas Kenyon said that the decision to have a countryside theme was made long before the current crisis but hopes that the concerts could provide "a sense of perspective."

Conductor Leonard Slatkin
Slatkin will be the first American to conduct the last night
"We hope what we'll do is provide some really serious background as to why it's an important issue for everybody," he said.

Concerts of music such as Beethoven's Pastoral Symphony, Vaughan Williams Pastoral Symphony and Debussy's Printemps (Spring) will illustrate how the countryside has been a preoccupation in very different ways of composers across the centuries.

The National Farmers Union welcomed the news and particularly the opportunity for urban dwellers to think about the importance of the countryside and those who work there.

"There is still a long way to go for farmers who are facing a very uncertain future, and we welcome the reminder of what an inspiration the countryside has been and will continue to be," said NFU spokesman Simon Rayner.

We take no sides at all

Proms Director Nicholas Kenyon


But images of rural bliss will not be the only ones being performed.

A highlight of the Proms will be the world premiere of Sally Beamish's Knotgrass Elegy, set in a latter-day Garden of Eden and describing the effect on our land by pesticides and herbicides.

"We take no sides at all," said Kenyon.

The Proms will also host performances by children's favourites The Tweenies and boy band A1, who will take part in the Children's BBC Prom in the Park in Hyde Park.

Steps star Faye Tozer will host the special family event which will also be screened on BBC One.

Kenyon said that the Proms were an important way to introduce children to classical music - though neither the Tweenies nor A1 will be expected to expand their classical repertoire.

"The Proms are the way into classical music for a whole generation," he said.

The Tweenies
The Tweenies have had a hit album and two singles
We have to keep up to date with the ways we do that."

The other theme of this years Proms - known as one of the world's leading celebrations of classical music - is Exile.

Kenyon describes this as a "hard-hitting" theme, dealing as it does with music written by composers in either enforced or voluntary exile.

Music by Bartok, Rakhmaninov and Shoenberg will all be performed.

There is also to be a film music Prom which includes scores by five European composers who fled to the USA from fascism and ended up in Hollywood.

Most of this year's concerts will come from London's Royal Albert Hall, with performances broadcast on BBC Radio 3.

Every concert in the season will be webcast this year, expanding on last year when a few selected events were chosen.

Proms director Nicholas Kenyan
"The proms is a great celebration"
See also:

17 Jul 98 | Entertainment
FAQs: The Proms
09 Sep 99 | Entertainment
Angel in the park
10 Sep 00 | Entertainment
Proms conductor bows out
06 May 00 | Entertainment
Church wins Classical Brit award
13 Jul 99 | Entertainment
Government rattles Sir Simon
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