After eight weeks of spectacular music-making the 123rd season of the BBC Proms concludes tonight, as music-lovers across the UK come together to celebrate the Last Night of the Proms.
The Last Night marks the end of another hugely successful festival, as once more over 300,000 people have attended the 2017 BBC Proms, which featured 75 concerts in the Royal Albert Hall, 13 Proms at … events including eight Proms Chamber Music concerts at Cadogan Hall and five concerts at venues around London and in Hull, and four Last Night of the Proms celebrations across the UK.
Led by the BBC Symphony Orchestra conducted by Sakari Oramo, the Last Night of the Proms in the Royal Albert Hall weaves together many of the season’s musical strands, with soprano Nina Stemme leading the end-of-season festivities. The concert will be broadcast live from 7:15pm on BBC Radio 3 and BBC Television (first half live on BBC Two and second half live on BBC One).
122 years since it was founded and 90 years since the BBC took over the running, financing and broadcasting of the world’s greatest classical music festival, the 2017 BBC Proms ran from Friday 14 July to Saturday 9 September and featured eight weeks of concerts, talks, workshops, family events and more.
Highlights of the 2017 festival included an opening weekend of Elgar with the Staatskapelle Berlin conducted by Daniel Barenboim; the return of the ‘Proms at …’ series, matching music to venues across London and Hull; the first ever Relaxed Prom; Sir András Schiff performing Book 1 of Bach’s ‘The Well-Tempered Clavier’ (he will return in 2018 to perform Book 2); the first complete live performance of Ravi Shankar and Philip Glass’ album ‘Passages’ with Anoushka Shankar conducted by Karen Kamensek; 30 premieres as new music remains at the heart of the festival; and a host of international orchestras, including the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, the Oslo Philharmonic and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra.
Average attendance for the main evening Proms in the Royal Albert Hall this year was 89% and well over half of the concerts in the Royal Albert Hall sold out. The Proms welcomed nearly 60,000 Prommers through the doors of the Royal Albert Hall, purchasing standing tickets which are sold on the day for £6.
More than 35,500 tickets were bought by people attending the Proms for the first time and over 10,000 under 18s attended concerts across the season.
David Pickard, Director, BBC Proms, says: ‘It’s been a remarkable season of world-class music-making and our outstanding audience figures prove that classical music is in rude health. Our audiences have embraced the huge breadth of music on offer throughout the eight weeks of the festival – from Mahler’s ‘Resurrection’ Symphony performed by the BBC Symphony Orchestra under their Chief Conductor Sakari Oramo to a concert celebrating the music of Ella Fitzgerald and Dizzy Gillespie – and show a huge public appetite for classical music, including new and lesser-known works. Thanks to the BBC – who have been running the Proms for 90 years – I’m delighted that we are able to continue Henry Wood’s founding vision of bringing the best quality classical music to the widest possible audiences.’
Craig Hassall, Chief Executive of the Royal Albert Hall, says: “This year’s BBC Proms season has been one of the finest ever: a thrilling two-month celebration of the world’s greatest music. In my first year as chief executive, it has been wonderful to see the fantastic job done by our operational and box office staff, who make such an ambitious season possible, and deal with the myriad challenges of such a high-profile, world-renowned festival. As ever, we’ve sought to improve audiences’ experiences through innovation, introducing a new system that allows Prommers to leave the queue and explore South Kensington at their leisure, and continuing last year’s successful scheme which made Promming tickets available online and more accessible for those travelling longer distances or working during the day. We would once again like to thank the BBC, our audiences and the artists for continuing to support this beloved festival, and for helping to create that unique Proms atmosphere at our famous venue.”
Radio 3 broadcasts every Prom live. This year in a UK first, the entire festival was streamed in the highest quality audio the BBC has ever broadcast, as a lossless audio stream at bbc.co.uk/proms, letting listeners experience the concerts as if they were present at the Royal Albert Hall. BBC Radio 3 recently announced a season of programming this Autumn including an exhibition at the Barbican to celebrate Simon Rattle’s return to the UK and the London Symphony Orchestra. Other key classical highlights coming up include the BBC opera season in October, a major season of programming across Radio 3, BBC Two, BBC Four and BBC Arts Digital in collaboration with the V&A and the Royal Opera House.
On BBC Television, the festival has been broadcast to audiences across BBC One, BBC Two, BBC Four, BBC Red Button and via BBC iPlayer. BBC Two’s Saturday evening review show Proms Extra hosted by Katie Derham also returned for a fifth series, introducing audiences to a wide range of musical guests.
Once again the BBC Proms have generated significant interest and impact across digital platforms. The number of requests to watch televised proms live on BBC iPlayer has doubled from last year, to over 200k (at time of going to press). Take up of podcasts and downloads of concerts has increased by 37% since 2016. Figures for the first eight weeks of the season show an average of over 300,000 users in the UK have visited BBC Proms pages on computers, tablets, connected TVs and mobile phones every week. There has been particularly strong growth in the proportion of consumption of the Proms on smartphones. So far there have been over 2 million requests in the UK to watch or listen to whole concerts or extracts online. On social media videos of the BBC Proms have been viewed 1.4 million times all over the world.