Page last updated at 15:21 GMT, Friday, 17 July 2009 16:21 UK

BBC orchestra opens Proms season

Royal Albert Hall
The 115th Proms will include its first ever Bollywood concert

The BBC Proms, the largest classical music festival in the world, has got under way in London.

This year's Proms will feature 100 concerts, from Royal Albert Hall performances to Proms in the Park, over the next eight weeks.

The BBC Symphony Orchestra opened the festival with a "celebration of Stravinsky and Tchaikovsky".

Director of the Proms, Roger Wright, said there would be a mixture of classics and newer works.

"We commission lots of new music for the Proms itself and also give the first performances of other works and works new to the UK.

"That mixture of old and new is incredibly important to the Proms, it's what it has done over its history.

"It is also a way of taking the audience further. The Proms audience is a very loyal, and very committed and very knowledgeable audience and, I think, like to hear new things," he added.

Darwin piece

The 2009 season features 100 concerts - up from 88 last year - and will see its first ever Bollywood concert which will feature Indian TV star Shaan, his band and a troupe of dancers at the Royal Albert Hall.

Other highlights include new work by drum and bass artist Goldie, who appeared on the BBC's Maestro programme.

He has composed a piece for the BBC Concert Orchestra on the theme of evolution, to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Charles Darwin's On The Origin Of The Species.

The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain will perform reworkings of well-known pieces.

More traditional features of the season include the full cycle of 11 Stravinsky ballets, Stephen Hough performing all four Tchaikovsky piano concertos and anniversary celebrations of Purcell, Handel, Hadyn and Mendelssohn.

There are also Proms devoted to minimalist composers Philip Glass and Michael Nyman for the first time.

The last night will see open air Prom in the Park concerts at five venues around the country - Hillsborough Castle in Northern Ireland, Hyde Park in London, Glasgow Green, Blue Hill park in Salford and Singleton Park in Swansea.

The Proms, now in their 115th year, will be broadcast live on Radio 3, and 25 will be shown on BBC Two or Four.



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