BBC Proms to celebrate homegrown musicians following 'Rule Britannia!' controversy

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Watch: BBC proms to return to the Royal Albert Hall - along with an audience and Rule, Britannia!

British talent will be celebrated at the 2021 BBC Proms, following last year’s Rule Britannia! row.

There was controversy last year when it was announced that the lyrics of the song and Land Of Hope And Glory were being removed at the Last Night Of The Proms amid claims that the traditional anthems’ lyrics referred to colonialism and slavery.

The 2021 programme has now been unveiled and Proms director David Pickard has said the final night will be “business as usual”.

Read more: BBC defends Proms conductor after 'unjustified personal attacks'

"We want to have Proms as you know them, and we're planning for a traditional Last Night Of The Proms," The Telegraph quoted him as saying.

The audience enjoying the BBC Last Night of the Proms, at the Royal Albert Hall in London.
The audience enjoying the Last Night Of The Proms in 2015. (PA)

"The big headline for us is: this is a celebration of UK musicians, UK ensembles, UK artists. It's incredible that we have 30 orchestras and 29 of them are from the UK."

This year’s event will include 52 concerts over 44 days, featuring 30 orchestras and ensembles and more than 2,000 musicians.

Last year saw a reduced orchestra playing to an empty venue because of the COVID pandemic, but audiences will be welcomed back to attend the Proms in person.

Nicola Benedetti performing at the Royal Albert Hall for the Classical BRIT Awards on Tuesday, October 02, 2012 in London, UK. (Photo by John Marshall JME/Invision/AP)
Nicola Benedetti is taking part in the Proms. (John Marshall JME/Invision/AP)

Highlights will include Vaughan Williams’s Serenade To Music, which premiered at the Royal Albert Hall under the baton of Proms founder-conductor Henry Wood in 1938.

Popular British artists as well as emerging stars will appear, including Nicola Benedetti, Karen Cargill, Lucy Crowe, Sir Mark Elder, Benjamin Grosvenor, Steven Isserlis, Sally Matthews, Sir Simon Rattle, Christine Rice and Roderick Williams.

Sir John Eliot Gardiner will be making his 60th Proms appearance.

The award-winning Sinfonia of London will make its debut under Proms favourite John Wilson.

British opera singers Natalya Romaniw, Sally Matthews, Nardus Williams, Christine Rice, Nicky Spence and Freddie De Tommaso will team up for an evening of opera exploring isolation and reunion.

Read more: BBC Proms: PM says time to stop 'cringing embarrassment' about UK history

Pickard said in a press release that planning a Proms season in a pandemic "isn’t easy".

"We have relied on the creativity and collaboration of many people to offer a programme of such ambition, scale and quality, and are proud to celebrate so much outstanding British talent this summer," he said.

EDITORIAL USE ONLY Sir Simon Rattle rehearses with the London Symphony Orchestra at LSO St Luke's in London for the first time since March 2020, in preparation for a BBC Proms concert on Sunday 30 August.
Last year's Proms were affected by the coronavirus pandemic. (PA)

"We are looking forward to welcoming live audiences back to the Royal Albert Hall in its 150th anniversary year, and to sharing six weeks of live music with audiences in the Hall and at home on BBC Radio 3 and on BBC TV."

The Proms run from 30 July to 11 September.

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