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Last Updated: Friday, 14 July 2006, 07:30 GMT 08:30 UK
BBC ready for biggest Proms yet
BBC Proms
This year's season runs from 14 July to 9 September
The 112th season of the BBC Proms will contain more concerts than ever before - and a few surprises too.

An integral part of the classical calendar for more than 100 years, the BBC Proms have played a key role in democratising music and making it accessible to a wider audience.

That tradition continues with this year's season, which, as usual, combines the established and the familiar with the innovative and untested.

Critics have complained the size and eclecticism of the programme makes it chaotic and daunting, while the traditional Last Night has been overwhelmed in recent years by jingoistic flag-waving.

The season's aims remain as consistent and admirable as ever, though: to inform, educate and entertain the widest possible audience while championing new music, composers and artists.

Sir Edward Elgar
The new Elgar March has been completed by Anthony Payne
Anniversaries are at the forefront this year, with Mozart's 250th birthday and Dmitri Shostakovich's centenary marked across the whole range of programming.

The deaths of German Romantic Robert Schumann and Mozart's Austrian contemporary Michael Haydn, 150 and 200 years ago respectively, will also be commemorated, as will the 60th birthday of British composer Colin Matthews.

In a pleasing coincidence, Anthony Payne turns 70 the day his completion of Edward Elgar's sixth Pomp and Circumstance March will be premiered - 70 years after the composer's death.

And the Queen's 80th birthday will be marked with a concert that will feature 300 children singing a special commission by Sir Peter Maxwell Davies and Poet Laureate Andrew Motion.

Perhaps the most ambitious event in the programme, however, is We Turned On The Light, a choral work by Orlando Gough with a text by playwright Caryl Churchill about climate change.

Angela Gheorghiu
Soprano Angela Gheorghiu performs at London's Prom in the Park
More than 800 amateur singers from a wide variety of musical disciplines have been invited to participate in two separate concerts at the Royal Albert Hall.

"I'm intrigued by what these people do in their day jobs," says Gough, founder of choral outfit The Shout.

"And I'm intrigued by the possibility that a group of untrained singers can make a sublime noise."

The composer describes his work as "a kind of choral dance of death, playful but terrifying".

Slightly more familiar to concert goers will be the Blue Peter theme, a new version of which will be premiered on 22 July.

And as usual, the Last Night of the Proms will be enjoyed by more than a million people at the Proms in the Park events held in London, Belfast, Glasgow, Swansea and Manchester.

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