The 2019 season of The BBC Proms begins on 19 July and features daily concerts until the Last Night of the Proms on 14 September – a great musical celebration in the Royal Albert Hall, with simultaneous outdoor events in Glasgow, Swansea, Belfast, as well as in Hyde Park. Originally started in 1895 as outdoor concerts to entertain the public in London’s pleasure gardens, these so-called promenade concerts (‘Proms’ is simply short for ‘promenade concert’) now constitute one of the most famous classical music festivals in the world.

Officially called The BBC Proms, all of the concerts are organized by the BBC and broadcast live on BBC Radio 3, with many concerts also broadcast on BBC television. The Royal Albert Hall is the main venue for the BBC Proms concerts, but concerts are also held at other venues, including Cadogan Hall. Several free events including lectures, discussions, family friendly events and young artist presentations are held at the Imperial College Union opposite the Royal Albert Hall.

The BBC Proms are a special set of concerts with their own unique traditions and vocabulary. A ‘prommer’ is an audience mean who ‘proms’, literally meaning to listen to a concert in the Royal Albert Hall while standing. There are two areas for promming at the Royal Albert Hall – the Arena (level with the stage) and the Gallery (at the top of the hall). Standing for the duration of the concert might sound a little bit uncomfortable but is a great way to listen to sell-out concerts on a budget – tickets are only £5 each and can only be bought on the day.

Pianist Yulia Chaplina

However, demand for the most popular concerts is high and there are only a limited number of tickets available for ‘prommers’. That means arriving early – sometimes as early as breakfast time – and queuing all day to secure tickets. Enthusiastic prommers bring chairs, blankets and plenty of food and drink to get them through the day, whatever the weather. It is not unusual on the day of a popular concert to see a long queue of prommers snaking down Prince Consort Road at midday happily chatting, drinking and eating.

The 2019 season offers a great variety of different performance and feature much gorgeous Russian music repertoire. Here are all of the concerts featuring Russian Music selected specially for Russian Art and Culture by Russian concert pianist Yulia Chaplina who is based in London. She performs and talks about Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninov at the BBC Proms on 3 September as part of the BBC’s Young Artist Introducing Scheme. This event is a part of the BBC Proms free events at Imperial College, London. For a biography of Yulia, and details of her performances, please visit her website.

James Ehnes © Benjamin Ealovega

Prom No. 6 on 22 July and Prom No. 8 on 24 July

Royal Albert Hall

These two Proms are essential for any admirers of Stravinsky’s music. ‘The Rite of Spring’ is performed on 22 July by the Orchestra of the Royal Academy of Music and the Julliard School, conducted by Ed Gardner. ‘The Firebird’ Suite on 24 July is performed by BBC Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Péter Eötvös. Other composers featured include Thorvaldsdottir, Britten (22 July) and Debussy, Bartok and Eötvös (24 July).

Prom No. 12 on 27 July

Royal Albert Hall

A spectacular programme of Russian Music, featuring Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concert played by British violinist Nicola Benedetti as well as Prokofiev’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’ Suite and the UK premiere of ‘Icarus’ by a young Russian-American composer Lera Auerbach. Performed by the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain, conducted by Mark Wigglesworth.

Proms Plus Talk on 30 July

Free at the Imperial College London.

Russian–born British musicologist Marina Frolova-Walker talks about Shostakovich and his Symphony No. 10, performed later that evening in Prom No. 15.  Frolova–Walker is a professor at Cambridge University and is the author of several distinguished music books and articles, as well as being a regular contributor to BBC Proms talks.

Mariss Janson © Peter Meisel

Proms 15 on 30 July

Royal Albert Hall

Shostakovich’s epic 10th Symphony is performed alongside Beethoven’s 2nd

Symphony by the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Mariss Jansons. Jansons is Latvian but was educated in St. Petersburg and still considers his St. Peterburg flat to be his main home.

Proms Plus Talk on 31 July

Free at the Imperial College London.

A talk by the former chief editor of the leading UK String magazine ‘The Strad’ – Ariane Todes – about the Russian school of violin-playing, as well as a closer look into Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No. 2 performed later that day in Prom No. 16

Prom 17 on 31 July

Royal Albert Hall

A fantastic programme featuring Sibelius’s passionate First Symphony, the memorizing, but feverishly difficult, Second Violin Concerto by Prokofiev and Strauss’s gorgeous Der Rosenkavalier suite. This is the second appearance by Mariss Jansons and his Bavarian Symphony orchestra and they are joined by the fabulous Georgian violinist Lisa Batiashvili for the Violin Concerto.

Prom 22 on 4 August

Royal Albert Hall

Another Prom of Russian music featuring Rachmaninov’s Isle of Dead and Shostakovich’s Symphony 10 – one of the most dramatic and long (58mins) works composed by the great Dmitri Dmitrievich. This Prom also includes a specially commissioned world-premiere of the Midnight Sun Variations by the young Finnish female composer OutiTarkiainen. Performed by the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra and conducted by the Finish star violinist John Storgårds, this Prom features quintessential works of the Russian –Soviet music repertoire.

Prom 23 on 5 August

Royal Albert Hall

This Prom features masterpieces by Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninov – excerpts from Tchaikovsky’s ballet Swan Lake (without the dancers of course) and Rhapsody on a Theme by Paganini by Rachmaninov, conducted by  Ben Gernon and performed by BBC Philharmonic, with Russian virtuoso pianist Alexander Gavryluk.

Prom 28 on 8 August

Royal Albert Hall

Rachmaninov’s The Bells is the centrepiece of this wonderful Prom. Other works include Twill by Twighlight by Takemitsu and the world-premiere of the Moon by Watkins. Performed by Iurii Samoilov (baritone), Natalya Romaniw (soprano), Oleg Dolgov (tenor), the BBC National Chorus of Wales, the Philharmonia Chorus, the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and conducted by Tadaaki Otaka – the stage of the Royal Albert Hall will be packed with performers.

Prom 34 on 12 August

Royal Albert Hall

If you do not already have tickets, this one will require queueing from breakfast to get a promenade ticket. The conductor Daniel Barenboim and pianist Martha Argerich are among the most popular and celebrated classical musicians in the world. Barenboim’s West-Eastern Divan Orchestra is a special orchestra that unites Israelis and Palestinians through their common love of music. In this Prom, Martha Argerich is the soloist in one of the most famous works ever written – Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto no. 1. Other works include the Concerto for Orchestra by Lutoslawski and Schubert’s Symphony No. 8/

Proms 39 on 15 August

Royal Albert Hall

Mussorgsky’s ‘Pictures at an Exhibition’ for orchestra and piano (arranged by Maurice Ravel, it was originally composed for piano solo) is paired with the

delightful Overture ‘The Hebrides’ by Mendelsohn and Sea Pictures by Elgar.  Performed by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, conducted by Elim Chan, with Catriona Morison s the soloist.

Proms Plus Talk on 17 August

Free at the Imperial College Union

Russian – British Cambridge Professor Marina Frolova – Walker returns to Imperial College to  talk about the Power of Russian Folktales with Sophie Anderson.

Conductor Vladimir Jurowski conducting LPO. Credit: Alex Damain

Prom 41 on 15 August

Royal Albert Hall

A dazzling all-Russian Prom that includes Russian composers performed less frequently in the UK.  You will hear ‘Mlada –Suite’ by Rimsky–Korsakov,  ‘Kikimora’ and ‘Baba-Yaga’ by Lyadov, ‘From the Apocalypse’ by Glazunov and Rachmaninov’s First Piano Concerto. Alexander Ghindin is the soloist and the Russian-born Vladimir Jurowski conducts the London Philharmonic Orchestra.

Prom 42 on 18 August

Royal Albert Hall

Ludwig van Beethoven and Clara Schumann in the first half of the concert meets Sofia Gubaidulina and Dmitri Shostakovich in the second half. The contrasting Austro-German and Soviet backgrounds of the composers in this concert make this Prom an interesting programme.  The concert is performed by Belfast’s Ulster Orchestra under its music director Rafael Payare and features Georgian pianist Mariam Batsashvili in Clara Schumann’s Concerto.

Prom 48 on 24 August

Royal Albert Hall

A concert of masterpieces by contemporaries Sergey Prokofiev and Sergey Rachmaninov.  The soloist in Prokofiev’s fiendish Piano Concerto No. 2 is Seong-Jin Cho, winner of 2015 Chopin Competition in Warsaw. Performed by BBC Symphony Orchestra and conducted by Cristian Măcelaru.

Prom 52 on 28 August

Royal Albert Hall

An interesting concert featuring Tchaikovsky’s ‘Mozartiana’ – a rarely performed work inspired by Mozart – and Stravinsky’s homage to Tchaikovsky, performed by the Britten Sinfonia. The opening piece is Mozart’s concerto for two pianos with soloists Paul Lewis and Ryan Wiggeslworth.

Prom 57 on 1 September

Royal Albert Hall

An eclectic Prom featuring Rachmaninov’s Symphonic Dances alongside Mozart’s Piano Concerto no. 23 and Xing’s ‘The Five Elements’ – this concert is described as ‘East meets West’ by the BBC. China’s Shanghai Symphony Orchestra makes its Proms Debut, conducted by the ‘Karajan’ of the East, Chinese conductor Long Yu. The new winner of the famous Leeds Piano Competition Chinese-American Eric Lu is the soloist in Mozart’s Piano Concerto.

Prom 63 on 5 September

Royal Albert Hall

Another Chinese-American celebrity pianist, Yuja Wang, performs Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto no. 3. Known for her impeccable technique and power, this performance is not to be missed.  Another masterpiece in this concert is Brahms’ wonderful Symphony No.2. Performed by the Staatskapelle Dresden and conducted by Myung-Whun Chung.

Prom 67 on 8 September

Royal Albert Hall

This concert features ‘A Night on the Bare Mountain’ (orchestrated by Rimsky-Korsakov) alongside Sibelius’s Symphony No 5. Performed by the BBC Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Sakari Oramo.

Prom 69 on 10 September

Royal Albert Hall

The wonderful Russian-born conductor Semyon Bychkov conducts several Russian masterpieces – Shostakovich’s Symphony no. 8, the ‘Letter Scene’ from Eugene Onegin by Tchaikovsky and excerpts from Smetana’s The Bartered Bride. The young Russian soprano Elena Stikhina is the soloist with the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra.