No place at the BBC Proms for pro-Putin performers says its director

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Members of the Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra  (BBC\The Proms)
Members of the Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra (BBC\The Proms)

BBC Proms director David Pickard said there was “no place” at the classical music concerts for supporters of Vladimir Putin’s regime as he announced it will include a concert by a newly formed Ukrainian orchestra.

The musicians of the Ukrainian Freedom, led by Canadian-Ukrainian conductor Keri-Lynn Wilson, includes musicians who are now refugees and Ukrainian members of European orchestras.

The Ukraine Ministry of Culture is also granting a special exemption from fighting to male members of orchestras who are of military-age for the concert on July 31 which will also be filmed and then shown on BBC4.

Mr Pickard said they had thought “very carefully” about how to respond to the Russian invasion of Ukraine but said they did not want to bring in a ban on Russian performers.

He said: “We do have Russian artists coming this summer, many of them have spoken out very openly against the regime and we have had private conversations with others, and I am confident there is nobody there that is a public supporter of the regime and I think that if there were somebody who was to express those views to be putting it bluntly there would be no place for them at the Proms.”

He added that he was not asking musicians to make statements setting out their views as it could be “putting them in danger and their families in danger and I would feel extremely uncomfortable about that”.

BBC News presenter Clive Myrie, who has won plaudits for his coverage of the war from Kyiv, will also appear presenting the First Night Of The Proms on BBC Two, while Radio 1 DJ Clara Amfo and Scottish DJ Edith Bowman also feature in the presenter line-up.

Clive Myrie (BBC)
Clive Myrie (BBC)

TV naturalist Chris Packham will present the debut of Earth Prom, exploring the work of the BBC’s natural history unit which broadcast Sir David Attenborough’s earliest adventures.

There will also be an immersive experience of music, dance, theatre, and audio soundscapes called The Prom At Printworks, hosted at the industrial events space in south London, featuring works by Philip Glass and Handel.

For the first time there will be a Gaming Prom, presented by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra under Robert Ames, which will explore the sounds of video games.

The Last Night Of The Proms will be led by Dalia Stasevska, featuring star soloists Sheku Kanneh-Mason, who won BBC Young Musician of the Year in 2016, and a world premiere by James B Wilson.

Every concert will be broadcast live on BBC Radio 3 and available on BBC Sounds, and 22 Proms are broadcast on BBC television and BBC iPlayer, including the First Night and Last Night Of The Proms.

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