Jew’ish’ Proms

Each of the 72 concerts of this, the world’s largest music festival, held twice nightly, often, in London’s Royal Albert Hall, is tantamount to a prayer service, as anyone who has been will know. Hushed silence, congregants joined together in communal reverie, an altar of musicians, and a hall fit for worship… This year, concerts of particular note are the return of Daniel Barenboim and his young West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, a collection of Jewish and Arab musicians from countries as diverse as Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt and Israel. On Wednesday 20 August, they present 2 world premieres by new composers, as well as Mozart’s Overture to The Marriage Of Figaro, and a whole set by Ravel – from the dazzling Bolero to the achingly tender Pavane pour une infante defunte. The next night, Thursday 21 August, the BBC Proms Youth Choir and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, under hotshot conductor Andris Nelsons, deliver Britten’s almighty War Requiem. On Shabbat, Friday 22 August, one of Israel’s most sought-after conductor/musicians, Ilan Volkov, who also runs a nightclub in Tel Aviv, leads the Iceland Symphony Orchestra in Beethoven’s 5th Symphony and Schumann’s Piano Concerto in A Minor, performed by the young Jewish piano sensation Jonathan Biss. On Sunday 24 August, another young, Jewish, and American, superstar hits the stage – this time, the cellist Alisa Weilerstein, fresh from touring and recording the Elgar and Elliot Carter cello concertos with Daniel Barenboim. She performs Dvorak’s much-loved Cello Concerto in B Minor, with the Czech Philharmonic. Monday 25 August offers a lunchtime chamber concert of Mahler’s Piano Quartet in A Minor. And, in the evening, the Hungarian Jewish conductor Ivan Fischer brings his world-renowned Budapest Festival Orchestra to the Proms for 2 nights; the first concert is a collection of dances by Strauss, Brahms, and Kodaly; and the second is an evening of Brahms’ Symphonies – numbers 3 and 4. Concerts go on until 13 September and £5 tickets are available daily, known as Promming passes. All concerts are available to listen online, and some of them, to watch. The interval talks, which are presented on the radio/ online, which one misses out on in the Hall, are better than ever this year – a privileged insight to the piece the listener is about to hear.

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