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World's leading music festival opens in London


13:59, July 13, 2013

LONDON, July 12 (Xinhua) -- The world's leading music festival, the BBC Proms, began its two-month run at the Royal Albert Hall on Friday night.

The season will see 92 concerts performed before the final night on Sept. 7.

The Proms, founded in 1895 by Sir Henry Wood, is now in its 119th season. The BBC backed it financially from 1927 onwards.

Proms director Roger Wright told Xinhua, "The vision of the Proms is to bring the best of classical music to the largest possible audience -- and that still remains in place."

"How the world has changed over those 118 years does mean that the nature of the concerts has moved on a little bit. There is the opportunity to bring that particular vision to new life through broadcasting; and new technology has been probably the most significant development in its history because we can reach millions of people globally now," he said.

Wright said that planning for this year's season began four years ago, with much of the season fully in place two years ago.

"That's the way that the classical music world works. Unless we got those big orchestras and soloists a few years ahead, there would be many other calls on their time," said Wright.

The BBC's six orchestras provide the season's backbone, and some of the world's best orchestras also appear.

These include the Vienna Philharmonic conducted by Lorin Maazel, the Oslo Philharmonic under Vasily Petrenko, the Bamberg Symphony with Jonathan Nott, the Rotterdam Philharmonic with Yannick Nezet-Seguin, and the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra with Mariss Jansons.

The Warsaw Philharmonic and the Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano Giuseppe Verdi both make their first appearance in a Proms season.

Wright said one of the season highlights was a complete Ring Cycle (four massive operas in one week) to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Richard Wagner's birth.

"This is the first time this has been done in a single Proms season," said Wright.

Conductor Daniel Barenboim's Staatskapelle Berlin will be joined in the Ring Cycle by leading Wagner interpreters including singers Nina Stemme and Bryn Terfel.

"There are huge challenges to performing a Ring Cycle, but in a funny sort of way when you look through this season, logistically our Dr. Who Proms are some of the most difficult things we do," said Wright.

"The Ring is longer, but not quite as complicated," he said.

Dr. Who will appear for his third season, in two concerts focused on entertaining a younger audience.

In addition, three of Wagner's other operas will also be performed -- "Tristan and Isolde" with the BBC Symphony Orchestra under Semyon Bychkov, "Tannhauser" with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and Donald Runnicles, and "Parsifal" with the Halle under Sir Mark Elder.

Wright said American conductor Marin Alsop is set to make Proms history by becoming the first woman to conduct the world-famous Last Night concert.

Other anniversaries celebrated include the 200th anniversary of the birth of Giuseppe Verdi, and the centenaries of two of the pre-eminent composers of the 20th century, Benjamin Britten and Witold Lutoslawski.

There is also a complete Tchaikovsky symphony cycle.

All the concerts are live-streamed on the Internet.

But what are the personal highlights of this long season for Wright?

"I'm looking forward to getting the season underway. I often joke that the two nights I really look forward to are the first night, to get the season launched, and the last night because I know I will have a lie-in the next day," said Wright.

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