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Thursday, 19 July, 2001, 23:01 GMT 00:01 UK
Kenyon settles into sixth Proms season
BBC Proms director Nicholas Kenyon
Kenyon: loves the Proms "so much" he wants to stay at helm
By News Online's Alex Webb

BBC Proms director Nicholas Kenyon, now about to start his sixth season at the helm of the festival, still has clear memories of his occasionally stormy tenure of BBC Radio 3 in the 1990s.

And he is in no doubt as to which role suits him better.

The Proms is a terrifically successful brand

Nicholas Kenyon
"It's a lot more fun than Radio 3 which I did from '92 to '98 - previous to that I hadn't done a management job of any sort," he told BBC News Online.

Kenyon's stewardship of the Proms has seen an already successful festival hit new heights, both in attendances and through the establishment of new events like Proms In The Park and the Poetry Proms.

Twin themes

"Because I love it so much I shall go on until somebody tells me to stop," says Kenyon matter-of-factly.

The 73 concerts of the 2001 Proms are built around the twin themes, Kenyon explains.

"This season one of the two major themes is pastoral - our relationship with the English countryside and how that has had such a huge impact on composers through the ages.

Jools Holland
Jools Holland: Starring in 3 August Prom
"That's taken through from the music of the Baroque - Handel and so on - right through the 19th century and Romanticism to the 20th century."

In the year of foot-and-mouth the pastoral theme is uncannily timely, Kenyon notes.

"We've even got a commission which is about the impact of farming on the environment - that is the piece by Sally Beamish called Knotgrass Elegy, on 29 July.


"The other big theme is exile, or the idea of composer who were thrust out of their homeland and went to America or other countries or came here - and the music that they wrote in relation to that."

Kenyon is particularly proud to have clinched a couple of great singers for this season.

"In terms of artists, I think were very pleased to have the soprano Renée Fleming for the first time at the Proms - it's a pity she has not been before.
Sir Andrew Davis
Sir Andrew Davis conducted the last night in 2000

"There's also Frederica von Stade, the American soprano who's the singer on the last night.

One of Kenyon's imprints has been the expansion of the Proms repertoire into non-traditional areas like jazz.


This is largely due to the open-mindedness of the Proms audience, thinks Kenyon.

"The essential thing about the Proms is that it builds outwards from the core classical repertoire and everything we do has to appeal to the Proms audience, but we've still been able to expand that repertoire into jazz and into world music.

"For example this year we're bringing in Jools Holland, Nitin Sawnhey and Julian Joseph - it'll be a unique mix of talents in the jazz area.

Kenyon has also maintained the tradition of programming lots of new work - including BBC commissions - at the festival.

"A far larger proportion of pieces in the Proms are of music from the last 20 or 30 years than in any other concert series.


"We're particularly proud of our record in commissioning new pieces from composers - we do five or six brand new commission each year plus various other premieres."

This year the BBC will also be building on traditional Proms broadcasting schedule.

"Every one of them is available through broadcast on Radio 3, and the BBC One and BBC Two schedules are the same this year - but we have this trial pilot week on BBC Knowledge of a whole six evening concerts starting on 29 July.

"We're very optimistic that when BBC Knowledge turns in to BBC Four more Proms is one of the things we'll be offering.

"It's another way of making sure that the Proms reach out to everybody in the country.

"The Proms is a terrifically successful brand and in terms of drawing people into classical music, and giving them the confidence that if they come to a Prom they will hear something worth hearing, really well performed - that's what we're all about."

See also:

19 Jul 01 | Music
Proms starts on patriotic note
26 Apr 01 | Music
Countryside theme for Proms
10 Sep 00 | Entertainment
Proms conductor bows out
09 Sep 00 | Entertainment
Sir Andrew Davis: First Knight of the Proms
14 Jul 00 | Entertainment
Proms close the musical divide
03 May 00 | Entertainment
Proms target musical youth
14 Oct 99 | Entertainment
American accent at the Proms
30 Jul 99 | Entertainment
Films score Proms first
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