If you’re a classical music enthusiast, the BBC Proms will undoubtedly be a must on your calendar. It is after all the world’s biggest, and greatest, celebration of all things classical – featuring a huge schedule of concerts and interactive events across the city of London. To add some perspective, it’s like Glastonbury Festival for connoisseurs of Chopin.
Not your cup of tea? Even if you can’t distinguish your Bach from your Handel or your tenor from your soprano, you may well be surprised by what the Proms have to offer. An integral part of London’s thriving summer schedule, the two month-long festival boasts such variety that it will undeniably change the way you think about classical music. So whether you’re an orchestral die-hard or simply open to an awakening of the classical kind, now’s the time to embrace the greatness of the BBC Proms.
Here's just a taster from last year's spectacular Ibiza Prom where DJs Pete Tong and Jules Buckley teamed up with the Heritage Orchestra and reimagined dance classics to glorious effect:
To give you a helping hand, we’ve selected our pick of the best events from 2016’s edition of the festival. Don’t forget – you can always listen to BBC’s extensive coverage of the Proms on your Pure radio.
The Bowie Prom - Friday 29 Jul 2016, Royal Albert Hall
The world was brought to a standstill following the heart-wrenching passing of one of music’s greatest luminaries: Mr David Bowie. But instead of mourning this huge loss, the Proms will celebrate the icon with a spectacular reimagining of his timeless music. Expect special guest singers, genre-hopping artistry and a wondrous party befitting for the man himself.
São Paulo Symphony Orchestra and Marin Alsop - Wednesday 24 Aug 2016, Royal Albert Hall
Somewhat of a topical concert, this special event couples exquisite classical overtures with the biggest sporting competition in the world. Coinciding with the summer Rio Olympics, the Royal Albert Hall will heat up with a visit from the São Paulo Symphony Orchestra. Anchored by colourful conductor Marin Alsop, the evening promises to be chock full of infectious-samba-tinged sounds with an orchestral twist. Other standouts include a guest appearance from Venezuelan pianist Gabriela Montero, who concludes the concert with a performance of Grieg’s Piano Concerto.
CBeebies Prom – Sunday 28 and Monday 29 Aug 2016, Royal Albert Hall
Ultimately, classical music should have the power to enrapture audiences of all ages and walks of life. This is the exact message conveyed when CBeebies takes over the Proms for two magical days in August. Targeting children aged five and under and their families, the concerts will take audiences on an orchestral exploration through time and space. From adventures in the prehistoric age to swash-buckling treasure hunts, this is the ideal introduction to classical music for kids and a fabulous day out for the whole family.
Proms at … Bold Tendencies Multi-Storey Car Park - Saturday 3 Sep 2016, Peckham
In terms of location, this one’s definitely going to be hard to beat. Ditching the resplendent surroundings of the Royal Albert Hall, the Proms will relocate to a municipal car park in Peckham for one of the more surreal highlights of this year’s schedule. Why? It’s all in homage to uber-influential composer Steve Reich – whose experimental, minimalist musical helped reconnect classically-indebted music to urban culture. A multitude of contemporary artists such as Brian Eno and Sufjan Stevens all cite Reich as a major inspiration – so this event is the perfect opportunity to unearth one of modern music’s unsung heroes.
Proms in the Park - Saturday 10 Sep 2016, Hyde Park
The culmination of the BBC Proms season welcomes some of the finest names in entertainment and music to London’s Hyde Park. Hosted by Michael Ball, acts include: All Saints, Rick Astley and Tim Minchin. Headlining the soiree is Frankie Valli; a man who needs little introduction. As leader of the Four Seasons, he’s had a hit film and a musical made about him while also being responsible for classics such as Sherry and Big Girls Don’t Cry. Miss out at your peril.