BBC Proms 2017 kicks off at the Royal Albert Hall with Beethoven's Third Piano Concerto performed by Igor Levit. The concert also includes a new work by Tom Coult.
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It's the world's biggest classical music festival.
We'll be feasting on scintillating music and sensational performers
for the next two months, so you might do well
Welcome to the First Night of the BBC Proms 2017!
Hello and a very warm welcome from me, Katie Derham,
and the whole BBC Proms team here at the Royal Albert Hall in London.
It's the launch of what promises to be another cracking Proms season.
We've even got new titles, complete with jellyfish.
We'll be with you tonight on BBC Four for the next hour,
where we'll be enjoying Beethoven's Third Piano Concerto,
with coverage continuing on BBC Two at 9pm for a performance
Over the coming two months we'll be showcasing the very best music
Much-loved masterworks will sit alongside world premieres specially
commissioned for the season, all performed by exceptional musicians.
And on that stage right now, those exceptional musicians
from the BBC Symphony Orchestra are getting in the zone,
the Prommers in the arena are settling in to their spots,
and we're all bursting with anticipation.
In just a few moments conductor Edward Gardner
will take to the stage, so the first of 75 Proms concerts can launch.
And we're kicking off the season with one of those world premieres -
an exhilarating five minute piece by Tom Coult.
It's called St John's Dance, named after a bizarre social
phenomenon in medieval Europe, also known as Dancing Mania.
Groups of peasants would start dancing for no obvious reason.
They'd carry on in a trance-like state for hours, days, weeks
and even months on end, often until they collapsed from exhaustion.
Thankfully we're not expecting that to happen to the audience
But we are expecting an appearance from the composer Tom Coult,
who says, "My piece is a relentless series of dances - often
spiralling out of control, often with two or more heard
That ripple of applause suggests the leader is coming onto stage, there
he is, Stephen Bryant. It is an exciting moment, this is the First
Night of the Proms. And any minute now, we should be seeing our
conductor tonight, Edward Gardner. Here he comes. It is the first time
he has conducted Tom Coult's music that he describes it as incredibly
vibrant and vivid with a unique fingerprint. Can't wait. So, let's
get going with the First Night of the Proms.
MUSIC: St John's Dance by Tom Coult
The BBC Symphony Orchestra. And there is Tom Coult coming to the
stage to take his bowl. -- bow. Great excitement.
29-year-old Tom Coult is surely one of the outstanding
He studied with leading British composer George Benjamin
and was recently nominated for a South Bank Sky Arts Award.
One of Tom's biggest fans is from very close to home.
He says, "My Mum's been wanting me to be in the Proms for ages,
I'm looking forward to hearing more from Tom in the future.
Now then, let's turn our attention to the titan of classical music -
Beethoven, and his magnificent but tumultuous Third Piano Concerto.
It was first performed in Vienna by Beethoven himself in 1803.
It's one of his most angst-ridden works.
The first and third movements are brim-full of high drama
and tension, offset by the dreamy, tender reflection
The emotion of the piece is certainly not lost
on our soloist, Igor Levit, who calls the Third Piano Concerto
At 30, he's the same age as Beethoven was when he wrote this
piece, and Levit has said that not a single day goes by without him
Well, we spoke to him in rehearsals about this deep
All these questions got about myself, who I am, what my role as an
artist is, what musically matters to me, I always felt that Beethoven was
the one-to-one to these questions. It is the most humane,
unpredictable, chaotic, beautiful, sane, insane, funny, sad, whatever
you want music imaginable. And therefore, as I feel it, the closest
to who we are. If you ask me why is it my favourite Concerto, I would
probably answer, why not? There is so much in it, so much to say. It is
incredibly funny. At the same time, it can be unbelievably dark. Playing
a Concerto is so exciting, because you can sit at home and practice.
Then you walk on stage for the first rehearsal. You share the stage with
80 plus colleagues and they start playing. They make a statement and
you have to accept maybe all your ideas could be overthrown in this
moment. Which is great. The same thing happens with the audience. We
obviously go on a journey together, the audience, myself, there is not
so much difference here. The only difference is I am the guy who
presses down the keys. We hear this music and we experience it together.
So what the journey will be about, what the emotions are, I cannot
possibly tell you. To play the First Night of the Proms is really
exciting and emotional, it means a lot.
APPLAUSE And here he comes, Igor Levit, for
what will be a special performance of Beethoven's's piano Concerto.
Shaking hands with Stephen Bryant and Edward Gardner standing by to
conduct. MUSIC: Piano Concerto No 3
in C Minor by Beethoven Fabulous, life affirming performance
of Beethoven's Third Piano Concerto bike Igor Levit, with the BBC
Symphony Orchestra led by Stephen Bryant and conducted by Edward Alain
Webber gardener. Listen to the jeers in the hall. -- conducted by Edward
Gardner. He calls that work at whole miracle, written by the most human
of composers, and I think we heard a most heartfelt performance. He was
visibly moved in the second movement, I'm sure you noticed that,
as well. As indeed were we all. He's recorded Beethoven on disk to
great acclaim. He won the prestigious gramophone recording of
the year last year for his account of Diabelli Variations.
He's no stranger to the BBC, as in 2011 he was chosen as a BBC
Radio Three New Generation Artist - widely respected as a platform
for the hottest young talent in classical music.
They certainly spotted a good one there.
Coming back out to take another bow. Banking the BBC Symphony Orchestra
warmly. -- thanking the BBC sympathy Orchestra warmly.
What a very lovely man Igor Levit seems to be.
He was born in Russia. He lived there for eight years, before moving
to Germany. Nowadays he based in Berlin but as can imagine regularly
performs in concert houses the world over. Now, I rather think that
everyone who would like to hear some more from Igor Levit. Here he comes.
And whilst he is bowing again I'm rather hoping he's going to give us
an encore. MUSIC: Transcription
of Ode To Joy from Beethoven's Ninth
Symphony by Liszt. Igor Levit improvising on one
of the most famous tunes of Beethoven - the Ode to Joy
from his Ninth Symphony. And if that whetted your appetite,
then you can hear the whole of that glorious ninth symphony,
his "Choral" symphony, on 30 July - right here on BBC Four,
with the BBC National Orchestra Igor Levit coming back on to take
another bow. For that wonderful encore. And absolutely breathtaking
performance of Beethoven's Third Piano Concerto.
Don't forget, you can listen to every Prom live on Radio Three and
we'll be bringing you all sorts of great performances every Friday and
Sunday here on BBC Four, and I'll be having my guests on Proms Extra on
BBC Two, every Saturday night from 6:50pm, starting a week tomorrow.
That has got me in the mood for the 20 17th season. There's so much to
look forward to. Join us now on BBC Two as the coverage of the First
Night of the Proms continues. The BBC Proms celebrates
the extraordinary film music of John Williams in a concert
to mark his 85th birthday. ..would you dare find out
what you were? ..would you dare find out
what you were?
BBC Proms 2017 kicks off in style tonight at the Royal Albert Hall. Beethoven's dramatic Third Piano Concerto is performed by star soloist Igor Levit with the BBC Symphony Orchestra and conductor Edward Gardner. This opening concert of the world's biggest music festival also includes a raucous new work by Tom Coult, St John's Dance, the first of 13 world premieres at Proms 2017. Presented by Katie Derham.