The weekly Proms magazine show. This week's review includes Elgar's Second Symphony conducted by Daniel Barenboim and a trip to the movies courtesy of the iconic John Williams.
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Hello and welcome to a brand new series of Proms Extra.
After four years at the Royal College of Music, we've moved
home to Central London, brought the decorators in and given
the whole Proms 2017 season a good lick of paint.
And week one of the Proms began with a full coat of gloss.
Now let's have a look at what else is going on today.
BBC Proms has headed north to this year's City of Culture, Hull,
and taken over Stage at the Dock, an historic site which overlooks
the tranquil waters of the River Hull and the Humber
Conductor Nicholas McGegan, with The Royal Northern Sinfonia,
played music inspired by water, which of course included
And this is one of five 'Proms AT' events occurring
throughout this season, the other four will be in London,
but it's nice to be out further afield.
Let's leave the Proms AT in Hull and let me tell
you about who and what is on our show this evening.
We'll be taking a look at the John Williams celebration
Prom, Daniel Barenboim conducting Elgar's Second Symphony
and John Adams' Harmonium from the First Night.
Plus we have a performance by the clarinettist,
Annelien Van Wauwe to take us out at the end of the show.
Now, I can't do all of this on my own, why would l?
To ease me through this evening I'm joined by a sofa full
The conductor, Sofi Jeannin The composer, Nitin Sawhney
Welcome to all of you. Nice to have a packed sofa this first episode
Proms actor. Jonathan, you have just come from rehearsals? Yes, it is a
replica of a Sergeant's 500th... He was an incredible figure in the
Proms? Yes, after Henry Ward, who ran the thing so many years. I used
to go on the tube from what would and I had a lot of Sergeant's
concerts. We will be re-enacting that on Monday. It will be rather a
responsibility. I have tried to lose weight to look like him, but it
hasn't worked. Sofi's, congratulations, you have your debut
prom this year, tell us about that? It is on the 20th of August. It is
part of the 500 years since the Reformation. We are going to do sort
of a patchwork passion. We are going to play extracts from passions by
composers spanning over 500 years. That sounds fabulous. Knitting
sunny, congratulations on your lifetime achievement award at the
Ivor Novello Awards. You seem too young for that! We are marking
Indian independence at the Proms? I am performing with my band on the
30th of August. That will be at the glow. And the Sam Wanamaker
Playhouse, on the 13th. I am doing a one-man show, but I do have some
guests. I am just talking, improvising about feelings and
thoughts around India and my relationship with India. It sounds
brilliant. Nicola Benedetti, happy birthday. It is a big one this year?
This was good to have the concept first and the party afterwards. Were
you pleased with your reviews? Who knows, it requires more stun. The
focus to play with that intensity of the piece itself into an audience
that is so actively focused in the way they listen and the type of
attention, it is an experience you don't forget, the combination is
quite something. I think the audience would agree.
It's a pleasure to have you all here, get stuck in,
as I'm looking forward to hearing what you have to say about our first
piece of music tonight which came from the First Night of the Proms.
It was an evening that contained new music,
courtesy of Tom Coult, and a big musical moment courtesy
of Beethoven's third Piano Concerto performed by Igor Levit,
but it is the work of the American composer, John Adams,
that we delve into and his piece 'Harmonium'.
The BBC Symphony Orchestra on the First Night of the Proms,
performing John Adams' Harmonium conducted by Ed Gardner.
John Adams couldn't make the night in person,
but he did tweet that he would be listening from his Mahler Hut
in the Californian Redwoods and after the performance he tweeted
Sofi, there were a lot of singers, 370, how do you approach conducting
that many bodies? This is the wonderful thing about choral
singing, the community itself, it is the fusion you feel when you stand
next to each other and sing, it does work for the conductor to connect
with that many people. I was so moved to see all those young people
from these different choruses, making that wonderful sound. I think
it goes so well with the poem as well, freshness of tone and
intensity of character. It was spine tingling. Andrew, the BBC's in the
orchestra, with whom you have a long and fun relationship, they were
shown of to their best? I was talking to someone at the rehearsal
about it and they were saying how fantastic it was and how they
enjoyed being a part of it. They have had a long association with
John Adams now, he has been composer in residence, I forget what his
title is, but he has been working with them a great deal. He is
extraordinary. It is rare for a conductor, a composer to be a
fantastic conductor. He is extraordinary. This is what put John
Adams on the map when it was first performed in the US, it was a
tremendous choice for the Albert Hall as well. Perfect location. I
love the Albert Hall and the sound is fantastic in this performance.
The Royal Albert Hall is interesting, a lot of people who
play their complain about big sticks. But I love the acoustics, it
is my favourite venue in London, possibly the world. Ditto. You
always get excited performing there, so I imagine they would have been
excited to perform this piece. We had Beethoven and a piece by Tom
Coult as well, eclectic, what do you think? Absolutely perfect. So
diverse, but to end with something of that magnitude, something so
grand, that many people on stage, it is an overwhelming part of this
festival, but certainly of that venue, it can take that scale. I
just wish I'd been there. The footage is incredible, I've watched
it several times and it is so moving and the stories of the individuals
and the choir. Experience for them to partake in something so large.
If you wish to see John Adams' Harmonium and indeed the epic
First Night of the Proms do head over to the BBC iPlayer where
Right, in less than half an hour, the Royal Albert Hall plays host
to the Aurora Orchestra, and our friend, Tom Service,
whom we can talk to right now at the Royal Albert Hall,
accompanied by the Aurora Orchestra's Conductor,
We know the audience are coming in now, lovely to see you so close to
start. We get on very well. We are only one part of it because the
whole first week is about the promise behind us and this hall,
which will be full tonight. The interesting thing is what you can
see behind us, you cannot see any music stands. The aurora Orchestra
is playing from memory. This is not the first Symphony you have done
from memory, but why do it like this, it makes everything harder for
you and the players? It is the fourth year we have been at the BBC
is performing a symphony from memory and we love doing it, it gives us a
new perspective on the music and hopefully it gives the audience are
different appreciation and glands into what an orchestra can deliver.
Also it gives us the opportunity in the first half of the concert, Tom
and I will be presenting on the stage, and it will give a close-up
look at the symphony, delving into it for 25 minutes. And try to sing
in tune. It is much harder than you think when you have thousands of
people looking at you. But also these experiences create a sense of
community between what happens on the stage, the way the players look
at each other when there is no music in the way, and the way you can make
eye contact with everyone here. There's no better space to be doing
something like this band here. It is so extraordinary we are able to
communicate with them in this way. You are looking forward to this?
Very much so. As an high. Back to you.
We look forward to hearing you at 7:30 tonight
If you would like both sound and vision, then you can see this
performance by the Aurora Orchestra on Friday 18th August on BBC Four.
Still to come on Proms Extra, more review chat with my sofa
guests, Nitin Sawhney, Nicola Benedetti, Sir Andrew Davis,
Shortly we're going to take a look at the John Williams celebration
Prom, we have the magnificent David Owen Norris with
his Chord of the Week, plus the clarinettist,
Annelien Van Wauwe will be performing.
Now Sofi, you're about to make your Proms debut in exactly a month,
Proms Extra found this picture of you singing with the BBC
Symphony Chorus in 2003 as conducted by Andrew Davis,
That is so funny. It was the Royal prom when we did the correlation and
it was all glorious. Sounds like the concert I am doing on Monday. Shall
we see it Sofi can come along and sing at that? This is your
opportunity? It would be wonderful. It is true, I went to the BBC since
in the said during my time as a student to see if they would let me
sing with them, although I was already a conducting student to see
what it was like to work with a symphony chorus on that scale,
working with an amateur group and seeing how that group of people work
together from the inside. I wasn't a spy, because I loved what I did, but
it was an interesting experience and I got to sing under your direction.
And you didn't put her off. Well Sofi's official debut is next
month and talking of debuts, Jess Gillam, a finalist last year
in the BBC Young Musician competition made her debut last week
at the Proms and Proms Extra decided, quite helpfully,
to add to her nerves I'm at my hometown in Ulverston
England and it's 11 days before the Prom. I practise for about four
hours every day, sometimes a bit more at my parents' tearoom. People
walk past and they don't see me. But they definitely hear me. It's been
my dream since I was about nine or ten years old to perform at the
Royal Albert Hall and I thought it would be much later on in my career
if it was ever going to happen. I'm so pleased it's happening now. I
knew I wanted to memorise this piece so I've just been playing the same
bar, the same passage over and over. We've had a few stoppers. There was
one lady that walked away. I think the proms audience might be a bit
more receptive. We are just leaving Ulverston now
ready to go to London. Mainly I travel with my dad who drives in our
van. He's definitely a calming influence before I go on stage. It's
an amazing building. The time is 6. 20 in the morning and I'm about to
play on BBC Breakfast for the First Night of the Proms in the Albert
Hall. It's so big. The 123rd proms season gits under
way this evening. You are listening to Jess Gillam and she's making her
proms debut this year. We'll be talking to her. You are looking
beautiful, as always... . Time for breakfast. We have just arrived at
the hotel. I'm feeling quite nervous just because of the size of the hall
and how prestigious the event is. I think I'm going to be quite
nervous. I need to make sure my head's in the right place and I'm
feeling on top form and I've got to be properly focussed.
Probably memory is the thing that makes me most nervous because
there's no sort of backup in performances before, I've thought, I
can't remember what's coming next. And we are going to welcome another
new young soloist to the stage, saxophonist Jess Gillam makes her
proms debut! APPLAUSE.
The saxophone is such a reliable instrument. We have been through a
lot together. It's only me that's variable in this relationship.
The only thing I'm slightly worried about is the long high note at the
end. I want to put absolutely everything into it and I want it to
fill the hall but the hall's so big, I don't think that's going to be
quite possible. Well Sofi's official debut is next
month and talking of debuts, Jess Gillam making her
unannounced Proms debut She is exploding with energy and a
desire to communicate which is the most fantastic quality. All of my
conversations with her revolved around, you just have to contain it
and channel it and because she's just bursting with wanting to give.
She's just got such a won'tderful future ahead of it. To be such a
genuine person, you know, she's just incredible. I can see you nodding as
well. Well, it's fantastic to see somebody like that who A has the
confidence and the love for the passion is bursting out of her and,
at the same time, she's very acutely aware of what an important event
this is for her. Yes. We were talking about this earlier, this
thing about nerves and how they can be used very positively to find
their own ways of being channelled. She's achieving that at a very young
age. Let's turn to a veteran
of the Albert Hall and indeed the Proms, Daniel Barenboim,
who made a weekend of it with two performances of Edward Elgar's first
and second symphonies, and it's the second symphony that
we're going to. -- that we are going to talk about
now. Elgar said he wrote his soul into this piece of music? They are
very different pieces. The first of course ends what did he say, a
massive hope for the future. The second, in a way, is the opposite.
There is a nostalgia maybe for the past. It was always said, the lights
are going out all over Europe, and, there's that sense of, you know,
leaving something, there is a sort of sorrow at the end of the piece
despite its tremendous exuberance and virtue sty of the piece. There
is a special feeling at the end. Shown last Sunday on BBC four,
here is the Staatskapelle Berlin performing Elgar's second symphony,
conducted by Daniel Barenboim. Daniel Barenboim and Staatskapelle
Berlin with Elgar's Second Symphony. Nitin, do you agree that composers
always put a bit of their soul into what they write? That's important.
It's got to start from a feeling that you want to express. I think
whatever you're doing, even if it's commissioned for a film or TV
series, you've got to find something within yourself that you're drawing
from in the first place. It was regarded as a very fine performance.
I don't know if any of you had any particular feelings about what
Daniel Barenboim brought to that performance. I know you have all
worked and known him in different ways. I didn't go to see it. I
wasn't here so I haven't seen it but Daniel of course is a very, very
long history of Elgar performances and very distinguished ones too.
He's always brought a tremendous insight. Also when people like Danny
and of course others as well did them all over the world which
actually helped the idea that Elgar is not just a composer appreciated
by the British, you know, I mean I've done a lot of Elle forward in
different places as well. But I think it's important. Yes. And we
are all moved by Elgar. It works everywhere because there is some
very special emotions there. As you say, this loss of something, perhaps
the loss of something in some way, the loss of a time that's past and
gone. You have this melancholy, this soaring feeling, whistfulness. I
think even when you open a score of Elgar's music, it couldn't be
written by anybody else, it's just such a unique image. It's just one
of the other treasures you have here in Great Britain, it's just
wonderful for us abroad to experience it. We are sensitive to
that I think. When you play Elgar, do you feel that emotional
connection with him? Absolutely. One of the requirement force a classical
musician is to step whole heartedly into the culture and feeling of
things that can be very close or very far away. And the power of a
great come pore, of course, is to make that possiblior you, regardless
of whether you were alive in 1830 and lived in Germany or this is your
time and place now, the power of their voice is something that brings
you deep into that world. Of course, Elgar is absolutely up there with
the best of them in being able to do that. We are so luck you be able to
do what we do, you know what I mean! Adventures presenting opportunities
for us all the time. That is true. You never get tired of it.
Now we're staying with Elgar for a little bit longer
as Proms Extra's finest, David Owen Norris, brings home
a little understanding of Elgar's Second Symphony.
A marvellous chord, a dominant 13th from Ed ahhed ward Elgar's Second
Symphony conceived in Venice walking around St Mark's. What makes it
sound so colourful is the fact the most discore Dan notes are on the
outside of the chord. Four French horns playing that rising phrase.
And they certainly give it a great air of triumph. And Elgar's very
good at triumph. But there's more to him than that. In his greatest
music, there's always a sense of yearning, a sense of loss, think of
the cello concerto. When our Chord of the Week comes back later in the
movement, the triumphant rising phrase is played only on the choir
Anglais and two choir trumpets then Elgar writes "fff" which is really
loud. For all the violins and Violas with the passionate word "vibrata".
Two horns this time and they're overwhelmed by the grief of the
violins. Elgar's Master of the Orchestra
allows him to paint a kaleidoscope of emotion on to one and the same
chord. David Owen Norris and his
illuminating chords will return next Time for us to turn our spotlight
on to the American film composer, John Williams,
who celebrated his 85th birthday this year, and to commemorate this
he got his own Prom. Even if you didn't know him
by name, you will have Nitin, as a fellow film composer,
what is it about John Williams Just a sample of some of it, Harry
Potter, Star Wars, lots of stuff. As a fellow film composer, how does he
get it so right, he's extraordinary? It's the breadth and diversity of
his work that is amazing. It's just how long he's been going and
creating incredible work, you know. He even worked with Bernard Herman
and Mancini. He played the piano part in Peter Gunn, he's done so
many things. This only touches on the breadth of what he's capable of.
It's interesting just that short snip that you heard there that I was
just saying it felt like parallel universes because it was so
different hearing what he's done. You have actually worked with him
when he's had themes? He came over to London to record them and it's
true that he uses phenomes. We heard extracts there and sometimes it's
about textures and sometimes he goes and does a text treatment. It's true
he has this extreme diversity. He started off like a great
orchestrator, he has a great understanding of jazz. That is
great, most composers have a good grounding. There are brilliant jazz
pianists. It's great hearing the diversity and brilliance of John
Williams' work. With every new film he does, he has
never sought relied on a past formula, he has taken the idea, the
concept, the mood of the film... He goes with the character of the film,
whatever it is, you have to serve the film, the ideas. You have played
some of his music, Nicola, some of the music from Schindler 's list was
on your album. How on earth do you decide to put into a John Williams
concert? Unbelievable quality. So nice to hear, an extract of Catch Me
If You Can and surprising scores which you don't expect. It is true,
it is difficult to make choices. How do you leave out The Raider's March?
People loved it, we had thousands of tweets coming in all evening. Sort
of saying, it was worth the licence fee on its own. But I would say
that, wouldn't eye. Do you think it's fair to say he saved the role
of the orchestra in film music? When he started getting famous in the
early 70s, it was slightly going out of fashion having a full-blooded
orchestral sound? There was a move towards pop music and people were
focusing more on pop music in the 70s. I think he brought it back,
with Star Wars, particularly. Normally, you would hear weird
science fiction sounds, like you do in Blade Runner for example with Van
Doug Ellis' incredible score. But he that power of the orchestra.
Briefly, Andrew I know you have met John Williams? I have met him
briefly. They have the student orchestra. Do you have a favourite
John Williams theme? No, they are all... Answers on a postcard later.
If you want to relive this prom, the BBC iPlayer, make like a storm
trooper in your own living room. Tomorrow night on BBC Four, we have
a preview of some lovely Schumann. Bernard Haitink with
the Chamber Orchestra of Europe which you can see in its entirety
tomorrow night on BBC Four at 7:00. The Proms as you'd expect has a busy
week ahead with the likes of Sir Andrew Davis recreating
Malcolm Sergeant's 500th Prom this Monday and Jarvis Cocker curates
a Prom dedicated to the genius of Scott Walker amongst
other Proms on offer. Do remember every Prom
is broadcast live on Radio 3, and there is of course the BBC
iPlayer if you want more Proms catch up, plus we have a Proms
podcast - it's all there. Proms Extra and I will return next
week with more nuggets I'd like to thank my guests,
Nitin Sawhney, Nicola Benedetti, Sir Andrew Davis, and Sofi Jeannin -
good luck Andrew and And we'll leave you with
a performance recorded earlier today by one of the current Radio 3
New Generation artists, the clarinettist Annelien Van Wauwe
Katie Derham returns with the magazine show Proms Extra to review the opening week of Proms 2017 with her special guests. This week's review includes Elgar's Second Symphony conducted by Daniel Barenboim and a trip to the movies courtesy of the iconic John Williams.