The Proms is always packed full of treats from early classical music through to the work of contemporary composers – but each year has its own character. This year, The Proms form part of the London 2012 Festival in honour of the Olympics. To celebrate opening night of the Games, the Israeli star Daniel Barenboim will be conducting Beethoven’s 9th played by the West-East Divan Orchestra, the ensemble he founded with Palestinian academic Edward Said to bring Jews and Arabs together. It’s now one of the most sought after orchestras in the world, and will be – rather spectacularly – performing a whole Beethoven symphony cycle in the week prior to the 27 July performance of the 9th Symphony. Music by contemporary influential French composer Pierre Boulez will accompany the Beethoven – a typically original choice by Barenboim.
Other Proms highlights this year include performances by some of Europe’s greatest orchestras – the Berlin Philharmonic and Simon Rattle will be in situ playing Wagner, Sibelius, Debussy and Brahms (30 and 31 August), the Vienna Philharmonic with Bernard Haitink playing Beethoven, Bruckner (6 and 7 September). There are some Proms debuts too: look out for the São Paulo Symphony with Marin Alsop (15 August) and the St Louis Symphony with David Robertson (4 September). There are some guaranteed sell-outs too, so get booking if you’re interested in seeing Andrew Manze conducting Vaughan Williams’s Fourth, Fifth and Sixth symphonies in a single programme (16 August). If you’re into opera, you’re in luck: the new production of Berlioz’s The Trojans at Covent Garden will be performed at the Proms in July; ENO’s Peter Grimes, The Marriage of Figaro from Glyndebourne, and Nixon in China from John Adams and the BBC Symphony will all be top draws. As for choral heavy-hitters: there’s Berlioz’s Requiem (11 August, conducted by Thierry Fischer) and Schoenberg’s Gurrelieder (12 August).
WATCH THIS SPACE
Until 9 Sept, Theatre Square
The National Theatre is lighting up Theatre Square on the South Bank with an ongoing cultural festival offering free dance, theatre, circus and music. Adults and children alike will find plenty to entertain them here, from juggling workshops to nostalgic plays harking back to the age of silent cinema. For the full list of events log on to insideout.nationaltheatre.org.uk
BP SUMMER SCREEN
16 July, Trafalgar Square and Canary Wharf
Enjoy some top notch culture at this special screening hosted by BP. The outdoor event will beam a production of the Royal Ballet's Metamorphosis: Titian 2012, inspired by the paintings you can see in the National Gallery, to both Trafalgar Square and Canary Wharf. For the full list of events log on to www.roh.org.uk