BBC Radio 3 controller Alan Davey says of the Proms concerts at the Royal Albert Hall: “The BBC’s on-going commitment to running the biggest classical music festival in the world allows the Proms to be one of the most inclusive musical experiences anywhere.” BBC publicity says: “The festival aims to offer a summer of music that allows for the most diverse and exciting musical journeys.”
The tension between that commitment to classical and the diversity (and possibly popularity) motive is evident in the 2022 inclusion of a Gaming Prom exploring the sound-worlds of video games, in partnerships with “beloved BBC brands” including Radio 1 Relax, CBeebies and the Natural History Unit, in a concert where actress Cynthia Erivo sings Nina Simone, Shirley Bassey, Billie Holiday and Gladys Knight, in a Prom dedicated to Aretha Franklin – and in some jazz, notably from Marius Neset and Soweto Kinch.
The rather virtuosic saxophonist Neset, about whom the Proms publicity repeat the assertion that he has been responsible for a “voracious reinvention of jazz”, appears 3 September with Ivo Neame (p), Jim Hart (vib, mar, pc), Conor Chaplin (b), Anton Eger (d) and the London Sinfonietta in the première of Neset’s piece Geyser c65’, which was commissioned by the BBC.
On 28 August the South African trumpeter and conductor Marcus Wyatt leads the Metropole Orkest in a Prom titled The South African Jazz Songbook. Siyabonga Mthembu – lead singer of Shabaka and the Ancestors and performance-art band The Brother Moves On – will take part, along with the singer ESKA, the saxophonist Soweto Kinch and Sons of Kemet tuba player Theon Cross.
Paradoxically, John Wilson, noted for his one-man revival of the Great American Songbook via jazz-flavoured Proms since 2009, this year conducts a concert of English classical music, including Williams, Bax, Walton and Elgar.
The whole 2022 Proms programme is here – bbc.co.uk/proms/events/by/date/2022.