First impressions of Apple’s epic new Classical Music App

Apple released a new app specifically target at classical music lovers and discoverers earlier on today, making available in excess of 115,000 unique works spanning multiple genres. Many of these recordings are available for the first time in higher quality audio meaning the listening experience is markedly different from other platforms.

Download the Apple Classical Music App from the Apple Store.

It’s a move which sees Apple Music fill a gaping hole in the classical music streaming and broadcast world. Apple Classical Music combines knowledge and expertise in the content with a user-experience that has been designed with classical music lovers needs in mind. The app offers 20,000+ composers, 115,000+ unique works, 350,000+ movements and a catalogue of over 5 million classical music tracks. Such a rich offer is one thing, but that the product is so satisfying to use isn’t an accident. Its evidence that people with knowledge and expertise have come together to design a user-focussed product that seeks to serve both experience listener and curious newcomer.

This isn’t radio using classical music to sell advertising or trying to serve up what it thinks the listener wants. Nor is it classical streaming having to fit into the limited constraints imposed by data architecture better suited to commercial music. Both approaches leave the audience either at best underserved or worst irritated.

Hi-Res Lossless, Lossless and Spatial Recordings

Apple Classical offers lossless and hi-res lossless recordings (essentially albums made available where the compression doesn’t deaden the low or top-end) in Dolby Atmos. If you’re listening to the track with Dolby Atmos compatible speakers, headphones or earbuds there will be a significantly higher quality listening experience. If you’re listening to one of the selection of ‘Spatial’ recordings then you’ll feel like you’re immersed in a live performance.

Even if you don’t have the necessary equipment (more on that in a bit), you’ll still notice a significant difference in detail. I listened to five different albums as a test to see if I could notice the difference compared with Spotify. In every case I’d heard a much clearer sound, a lot more ambient detail (fingers on instrument keys, bows on strings etc) and in the case of one spatial recording – the LSO’s recording of Elgar’s Introduction and Allegro – a combination of focussed mixes that helped create a sense of me listening to the solo string quartet and the accompanying string ensemble. Older recordings have what feels like a recording studio quality to them. Dame Janet Baker’s recording of Sea Pictures has a brighter clarity to it compared to its Spotify equivalent.

A word of warning though. You won’t necessarily hear each track in the quality it’s streamed. Every track’s quality is subject to the equipment you’re listening to it through, meaning there will always be a slight reduction on that which is served up by the platform. That said, the differences are still marked. My day’s listening has been ‘conducted’ with multiple speakers, earbuds and headphones. But the most significant point where quality could be reduced will be the connection between the iPhone and the physical speaker you’re connecting to. Both these devices need to be running CODECs (software) for Bluetooth connections that support the transfer of hi-res lossless files. The reduction brought about by any software or hardware inconsistencies is still marginal, in my opinion, however.

50M Datapoints in the Apple Classical database

Apple’s triumph goes further than the quality of audio. The organisation of data is perhaps the greatest of achievements. At the point of launch there are in excess of 50M pieces of data in the database – 50M different elements to describe the music on the server. That makes it possible to both find individual works, tracks, composers, orchestras or artists a whole lot easier, moving the user from intentional search (knowing what it is you want to search for before you search) to moving towards a more serendipitous kind of discovery.

In the press briefing hosted by Apple today, composer Jonny Greenwood highlighted one of the opportunities this development presents – bringing multiple musical genres together, for example providing useful links between non-classical and classical genres in so doing, potentially expanding the potential reach of classical music to a wider audience.


I particularly like the Browse function on the app. Within the composer genre for example, of their works (that which is recorded and available on the platform) are listed, alongside the number of recordings available for a particular piece. For classical music lovers this provides a level of discovery not previously easily available.

Exploring this feature further, just being able to have a list of say all of Yehudi Menuhin’s recordings at my finger tips makes this a phenomenal research tool too. To populate a personal library by a range of different categories including artist, orchestra, work or composer also gives me the user a good deal more control to curate my own experience.

It’s rare that I am quite so wholeheartedly positive about a new development, but in this case I think its well-deserved. It is as though a group of people have wielded considerable resources, researched, listened to users – artists and listeners – and come up with a product that meets their needs and supports the genre.

It will need to keep a close eye on its in-app messaging perhaps. I notice in the Apple Music App that composer Alexis Ffrench presents a Classical Connections Radio Show, introducing the programme by encouraging people not to think of classical music as ‘stuffy’. I’m not entirely convinced reinforcing unhelpful stereotypes about a musical genre are helpful in ‘selling’ the genre to curious newcomers. It is a piece of messaging entirely at odds with what the Apple Classical app leads on. Similarly in Ffrench’s introductory clip to the Apple Classical App there are some odd positioning statements that seek to extoll the app search function, Ffrench’s often over-earnest delivery and misplaced intonation makes it sound as though being able to find “even” Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata illustrates the data architecture breakthrough of the app. I know of no one is has to date found it difficult to find the piece. This kind of unchecked messaging jars with the strong offer of the app.

The considerable resource deployed to bring this app to life must surely pay off in subscriptions from people tired of mediated listening experiences or poor user-experiences. The contextual information the app provides compliments the superior listening experience too. Sure, you may need to spend a bit more on your equipment to take advantage of the high-end detail on offer, but that arguably has always been the case.

Ultimately what Apple has achieved is creating a destination for classical music, tacked on to its existing Apple Music offer. In Q2 2021 Apple Music achieved a 15% share of 532.9m total audio streaming subscribers. Amazon was at 13% and Spotify at 31%. Anecdotally, I’m significantly more inclined to drop my Spotify subscription and fully sign up to Apple Music and Apple Classical. I’m wondering how much Apple is betting on other Spotify users doing the same.

Download the Apple Classical Music App from the Apple Store.

Apple Classical is available for all iPhone models running iOS 15.4 or later. A version for Android is coming soon. Existing Apple Music subscribers can immediately access Apple Music Classical at no additional cost.

What you can do to save the BBC Singers and orchestral musicians

You may not be aware that the BBC plans to cut a significant number of musicians it has on its books. To do so will – make no bones about it – result in listeners and concertgoers missing out on hearing a group of hugely talented performers.

The controversy swirling around their summary departure grows by the day. They’ll be gone in a couple of months’ time, months before their centenary celebrations.

The past seven days have seen a whole range of industry experts explaining what impact the loss of the BBC Singers and other musicians the BBC employs will have on the impact of the classical music industry and on music education as a whole.

But, because of the unique way the BBC is funded, decision-makers within the Corporation are more inclined to listen to Licence Fee Payers than they are to the industry itself.

So, if you care about classical music, if you care about live performance, and you care about the livelihoods of human beings whose talents are second to none, please do one of the following (listed in order of priority):

  1. Submit a complaint to the BBC’s Complaints department
  2. Write to Director General Tim Davie
  3. Write to Charlotte Moore, the Chief Content Office at the BBC
  4. Write to Lorna Clarke, the Head of Radio and Music at the BBC
  5. Write to your MP

The BBC has an obligation to respond to emails to its complaints department. It is motivated by meeting the needs of its audience. Consequently, it is more likely to respond to complaints or feedback from Licence Fee Payers.

Alternatively, email Director General Tim Davie (, Chief Content Officer Charlotte Moore (, or Head of Music Lorna Clarke (

Suggested text for a complaint to BBC Complaints (go to and select ‘General’):

I am writing to complain about the proposed cuts to the BBC Singers and musicians in the BBC Symphony Orchestra, BBC Philharmonic, and BBC Concert Orchestras.

I’ve enjoyed listening to these performers on BBC Radio 2, 3 and at the BBC Proms. I’m disappointed to see how you don’t value the contribution they make to your programming and to the wider community.

Please reconsider your plans and reinstate the BBC Singers and musicians in the BBC Symphony Orchestra, BBC Philharmonic, and BBC Concert Orchestras.

Suggested text to raise this issue with an MP. To find the contact details of your MP go here.

I am writing to ask you to use your voice in Parliament to raise an issue I care deeply about.

You may be aware of the BBC’s proposed cuts to the BBC Singers and other musicians in the BBC Symphony Orchestra, BBC Philharmonic, and BBC Concert Orchestras.

I’ve enjoyed listening to these performers on BBC Radio 2, 3 and at the BBC Proms. I’m disappointed to see how the BBC doesn’t value the contribution those musicians make to their output and to the wider community. These musicians are the manifestation of the BBC’s public service commitment.

I call on you to raise this in a debate in Parliament in order to ensure that this core public service is retained in the BBC’s activities. Music is enjoyed by all. The BBC shouldn’t be allowed to abandon so many musicians so summarily.

Apple Music’s new classical music app is out on 28 March

News of Apple’s Classical App looked opportunistic this week. I’ve been raging with various former managers, producers friends (and BBC Singers) to make me feel the priority was them and them alone. I touched on this personal ‘challenge’ in my Britten Sinfonia post. 

A few hours later however, and I ended up thinking about things slightly differently. If the BBC really is giving us advance warning of its further devaluing of classical music then maybe Apple’s bid with their new shiny app is actually deft. Whilst Rome crumbles maybe Apple is showing us a New Town it’s currently building that it thinks we’d quite like to move.

There’s a lot on offer (overlook the artwork for now). First a user-centric experience focussed on discovery and rewarding with further contextualisation. There’s the promise of clear labelling, useful metadata (how each track is described) and valuable ongoing (linked) listening experiences that drives discovery.  Put simply: it’ll be easy to find the stuff you love and you’ll be guaranteed to discover new stuff too. Sort of like BBC Radio 3, I suppose.

At the moment Apple is inviting people to ‘pre-order’ the app, whatever that really means. Why not just release the app then tell everyone its there and then we can download it and experience it? Is the invitation to pre-order potentially a hostage to fortune, a way of hyping something and then it disappointing.

For what it’s worth, I don’t think it will. I like the idea that Apple might have met head-on a lot of the challenges that streaming services face with classical content. I also have a suspicion that they’ll have nailed recommended listening and contextualization. I’d like to see more detail on how Apple pays its classical content.

5 million tracks including exclusive albums are included in the initial offer, plus the ability to search by composer, work, conductor, or even catalogue number, and find specific recordings instantly. Tracks will be available in ‘highest audio quality’ (up to 192 kHz/24 bit Hi-Res Lossless) plus some immersive spatial audio delights I understand.

Apple’s classical music app launches on 28th March.

Britten Sinfonia launches their fundraising campaign

Britten Sinfonia launched its fundraising campaign this week, the day after the BBC Singers clusterfuck. When I first received the email I wasn’t entirely convinced it was the best timing. Had they waited too long after the Arts Council train crash? Would they have benefited by capitalising by launching the campaign earlier? Or were they seeking to capitalise on the sympathy raised around the BBC cuts? Whatever the answer, there just seems to be a lot more noise around at the moment. I worried that could potentially negatively impact both groups’ hopes for a positive resolution. 

It’s a powerful campaign simply produced. No flashy video production here which is what adds the call-out an air of humanity, authenticity and vulnerability. I’ve seen good coverage on BBC News online and observe that Nick Daniel has made on-air appearances on Radio 4 too. This combined with a clear email sent out to email subscribers asking for distribution across multiple social networks made it look like a sound joined piece of comms, tapping into the love in the air for this unfairly beleaguered rural ensemble. 

Britten Sinfonia is looking to raise £1million. Discover more information on the

Cellist Clare O’Connell’s launches a Kickstarter campaign for her next album on NMC

Launching today, cellist Clare O’Connell’s Kickstarter campaign seeks to raise £7.5K to support the composition and recording of an album of new music for cello on the NMC label.

The project is called  “Light Flowing” and focusses on sharing the feeling of lightness, of lifting up with audiences, something close to her heart and relevant given the struggles of the past few years.

Clare’s music is no stranger to the Thoroughly Good Blog. I heard her back in Gloucester Cathedral in 2021 as part of the Cheltenham Mixtape series originated by Meurig Brown. Her appearance formed part of a playlist concert that soothed and delighted just at a point in time when live music was back albeit cautiously. Just listening back to her 2021 album The Isolated Cellist I’m reminded even now how her folk-infused sounds and textures remain a balm for the soul. Be sure to check out There’s a Rumour Going Round. Her arrangement of Enzo Gragnaniello’s Stù Criato complete with low-level shaker is utterly divine. In fact, just listen to the whole thing. It’s really refreshing.

Clare O’Connell introduces her Kickstarter campaign

O’Connell’s Kickstarter programme will raise money to pay for the commissions – three brand-new works
by Emily Hall , Emilie Levienaise Farrouch and Natalie Klouda. The music will be released on NMC and be performed live on International Women’s Day at Wigmore Hall in 2024.

“If you want to see experimental contemporary music created,” she writes, “if you want to see composers and musicians paid fairly for their work, if you want to hear new music for solo cello, if you want to support composers and performers exploring creative freedom and risk-taking, if you think music is one of the essential ways we connect with each other as fellow humans… then I would love to welcome you as a supporter.”

Clare O’Connell’s Kickstarter ‘Light Flowing’ campaign runs until 6 April. Pledge now.

Abel Selalocoe wins at RPS Awards Ceremony 2023 opened with a rallying cry from Chairman John Gilhooly

The RPS Awards – the classical music industry’s annual opportunity to honour outstanding achievement amongst its ranks – was held last night at Queen Elizabeth Hall. Thirteen awards were presented to artists, ensembles and other creatives, looked on by an excitable appreciative industry crowd.

Cellist Abel Selaocoe secured the Instrumentalist award, while organist Anna Lapwood won this year’s coveted Gamechanger award. Elsewhere in the ceremony, the Singer category was topped by Anna Dennis (Violet, Aldeburgh Festival 2022), and Martin Brabbins was awarded the Conductor award.

I was especially pleased to see Manchester Camerata secure the Storytelling award for their touching short film entitled Keith, telling the true story of a man grappling with the onset of dementia. Emotionally highly charged, Keith wore its sense of social responsibility lightly, deftly demystifying the disease at the same time as playlisting the ensemble’s range of repertoire.

Manchester Collective’s win in the Ensemble category was well-deserved too. Raki Singh and Adam Szabo have not only established a new and distinctive ensemble for a whole new audience, but also built the brand’s UK-wide reputation in a relatively short space of time.

Raki Singh and Adam Szabo from Manchester Collective

Several months before recording a podcast about Manchester Collective, I met Adam. He and Raki clearly had already established a strong connection to the industry. I was struck both by their inclusiveness – reaching out to all manner of writers, influencers, and other like-minded souls Their clear consistently articulated vision was thought-provoking. That MC’s rise has been swift is in no small part down to both him and Raki building effective networks of allies in the industry putting their passion front and centre in conversations. That’s a case study in authentic leadership that builds space in the cultural landscape for an iconoclastic product without alienating the industry.

I was also pleased to see The Multi-Story Orchestra collaboration with South East London schoolkids – The Endz acknowledged in the Impact category. Last year, I saw firsthand how the work of a handful of passionate workshop facilitators empowered young people who wanted to tell a personal story. Here again, the vision driving Multi-Story’s co-creation was articulated with clarity by Artistic Director Kate Whitley. This was not an educational ‘project’ or imposing music on the people of South East London, but Multi-Story dynamically responding. I remember feeling reassured about the impact of their co-creation, emboldening young people with skills that super-charged their creativity.

Anna Lapwood receives RPS Gamechanger Award at the Royal Philharmonic Society Awards 2023 in the Queen Elizabeth Hall, South Bank Centre on Wednesday 1st March Photo by Mark Allan

In what was a well-conceived ceremony, RPS chair John Gilhooly gave a fierce opening address – a rallying cry for industry and policy makers, galvanising them around a shared vision and a call to arms: reinstate music education for all. The message is not new, but the energy powering its delivery was. Gilhooly’s industry audience was always going to be on side, but the effect was still uplifting.

This from Gilhooly’s speech was particularly striking.

“The arts are central to the international standing, character and well being of the nation and bring in over £110 billion annually to the economy. Looking elsewhere: Berlin – a single city – gets cultural funding of around 600 million euros, while the annual ACE budget is £428 million. Charlotte Higgins aptly called this funding a thin gruel that organisations are forced to beg for. And we all remember ‘Eat Out To Help Out’ that subsidised restaurants during the pandemic. That cost some £849 million for one month alone. If any government, current or future, addresses the awful cost of living crisis by subsidising the hospitality sector, the arts should get a similar deal. At the very least, the government could look for new tax incentives which would encourage individual donors to give more effectively to causes they love.”

An affordable ticket price made it possible for the RPS to attract its largest audience ever, which many attendees said was critical to their decision to attend. A wide range of industry representatives attended the event, which provided a glimpse into what goes into creating compelling concert experiences. And it was a warm atmosphere too, familiar faces and old friends side by side cheering on nominees and winners alike. A pseudo-networking event with a polished presentation from presenters Dr Hannah French and Petroc Trelawny from BBC Radio 3, giving classical music a bit of pizazz. The entire evening serving up potent reminders of a year packed full of memorable experiences.

Shortlist of nominations for each award listed below.

Full list of winners, plus video catchup (available from 9 March) and John Gilhooly’s headline speech available via the RPS website.

Award Shortlist 
Chamber-Scale Composition 
supported by Boosey & Hawkes in memory of Tony Fell 
Bára Gísladóttir – Animals of your pasture 
Ben Nobuto – Serenity 2.0 
Thomas Adès – Alchymia 
Conductor  Karina Canellakis  
Martyn Brabbins 
Robert Ames 
supported by Wise Music Group  in its 50th anniversary year 
BBC Singers 
Ensemble 360 
Manchester Collective 
supported by OUP Music in its centenary year
Awards for Young Musicians  
Opera-tic – Second Movement 
The Endz – The Multi-Story Orchestra   
supported by Warner Classics 
Bradford Festival Choral Society 
Côr CF1 
Torbay Symphony Orchestra 
Tredegar Town Band 
Ula Weber 
supported by Lark Music 
Abel Selaocoe – cello 
Adam Walker – flute 
Elena Urioste – violin  
Large-Scale Composition 
supported by The Boltini Trust 
Gavin Higgins – Concerto Grosso for Brass Band and Orchestra  
George Lewis – Minds in Flux 
Joe Cutler – Concerto Grosso 
Rebecca Saunders – To an utterance 
Opera and Music Theatre 
supported by Jenny Hodgson 
Bluebeard’s Castle – Theatre of Sound and Opera Ventures Orfeo – Garsington Opera 
Scottish Opera 
The Handmaid’s Tale – English National Opera   
Series and Events 
supported by Decca
Leeds Piano Trail 
Oxford Lieder Festival 
Ryedale Festival 
Sound Festival   
supported by ISM, the Independent Society of Musicians  
Anna Dennis – soprano 
Lise Davidsen – soprano 
Lucy Schaufer – mezzo soprano   
supported by Schott Music
Sound Within Sound – Kate Molleson 
The Great Passion – James Runcie 
Untold: Keith – Manchester Camerata  
Young Artist 
supported by Sir Simon and Victoria, Lady Robey OBE 
Nardus Williams – soprano 
Timothy Ridout – viola  

RPS Awards 2023 Shortlist

The 2023 RPS Awards Shortlist has been published this morning and on it I spy a number of classical music highlights from 2021. Among them I see the brilliant Multi Storey Orchestra collaboration The Endz (which featured in a podcast episode from a few months back) is up for the Impact Award, viola player Timothy Ridout for Young Artist, Theatre of Sound’s moving production of Duke Bluebeard (another podcast episode if you’re interested), and Gavin Higgin’s Concerto Grosso for Brass Band and Orchestra heard at the BBC Proms earlier this year. The choice for Instrumentalist Award must have been difficult given how the shortlist of violinist Elena Urioste, flautist Adam Walker, and cellist Abel Selacoe sparkles.

Full disclosure: I was a member of the Storytelling Panel (which was a hugely pleasurable experience). As you would expect, I’ll be remaining schtum until the announcement on 1 March at the Queen Elizabeth Hall. Tickets from £10.

See ‘We’re Going on a Bear Hunt!’ LIVE in Concert at Regents Hall in Oxford Street, London

Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury’s much-loved picture book ‘We’re Going on a Bear Hunt!’ was brought to life in a charming 24-minute animated film premiered on Channel 4 back in 2016.

On November 5 2022, the film’s soundtrack composer Stuart Hancock mounts a special performance for all the family at The Salvation Army’s Regents Hall in Oxford Street, performing the live soundtrack to the film.

If you’ve not seen the film you’re in for a treat. The animation has a pleasing whiff of the 80s textbook French for Today’s Famille Bertillon about it, mixed with a hefty dose of Raymond Briggs’s Father Christmas. The look and feel is definitely middle-class shabby chiq. I’m in no doubt the parents of Max, Katie, Stan and Rosie prefer it when their parents shop at Waitrose.

That’s not to knock the visual treatment in any way. The seemingly simple animation of gorgeous watercolour scenes is utterly delightful all in itself. And in terms of story – expanded from the picture book – there is a pleasing simplicity to it. A life lesson about loss told through characters drawn with a fine pen and coloured in with paintbrushes on a rainy Saturday afternoon. There’s peril too. There’s a moral. There’s mud. And (spoiler) there is a bear.

And there’s the most charming dog in the world who deserves his own film. Rufus.


Hancock’s score nestles in nicely supporting the visuals and underpinning the message. In fact, at the time of writing I’d say the score mitigates the underlying message, helping the story to wear its wise advice lightly. The music is colourful, the orchestration characteristically sparkling.

That musical style is definitely Stuart Hancock calling card. It’s evident in his concert music, some of which was released by Orchid Classics a couple of years ago.

Violinist Jack Liebeck performs Hancock’s Violin Concerto with the BBC Concert Orchestra drawing successfully on the composer’s instinctively cinematic and televisual musical language, including some pleasing nods to Hancock’s compositional hero John Williams. The orchestral variations also included on the album have a whiff of John Barry about them too. Maybe even master craftsman composer Nigel Hess.

The technicolour excursion ‘Raptures’ demonstrates Hancock trademark efficient writing (if you’re looking for a similar example in Bear Hunt – listen to the 1 minute Bear Chase). What links all of these scores is a clear love of sparkling detail. It is as though he’s written for specific people in mind – people he wants to impress and excite. Musicians in the band? Kids?

During our brief conversation about the forthcoming concert performance on November 5th we talk about the album (I basically fanboy him). I ask him about how the format – a live soundtrack performance of We’re Going on a Bear Hunt – is a great way of introducing the symphony orchestra to a young wide-eyed audience.

Rosie and The Bear have a bit of a natter

I learn there will be introductions to the music given by Hancock specifically with that idea in mind. Perhaps the likes of ‘We’re Going on a Bear Hunt’, Zeb Soanes and Jonathan Dove’s collaboration on Gaspard the Fox, or Bernard Hughes ‘Not Now Bernard’ with Alexander Armstrong are the present-day equivalents of Saint-Saens’ Carnival of the Animals or Britten’s Young Person’s Guide.

Maybe, I put it to Hancock during our conversation, there’s something in what the Lerici Music Festival (and Grange Opera) music director Gianluca Marciano said to me a couple of months back about getting the kids excited about classical music so they’ll hound the parents to buy tickets. Hancock’s reaction makes me think its something he hadn’t thought of but absolutely makes Very Good Sense.

Potentially then an animated (lovable) character say like Rufus could hold the key to attracting a whole future generation to the joys of concert-goers. Maybe.

See ‘We’re Going on a Bear Hunt!’ LIVE in Concert at Regent Hall in Oxford Street, London on Saturday November 5. Buy tickets via Eventbrite.

What’s on at the BBC Proms 2022?

BBC Proms 2022 looks likely to be a good one for the Corporation in its centenary year – a return to form

If the running order I have for the 2022 BBC Proms is the one that went to the printers then by my reckoning it’s, in terms of music at least, a return to form for the summer-long classical music festival.

Importantly too, the BBC’s flagship brand is making a big play of mounting concerts from a variety of locations across the UK too.

A mix of core repertoire thoughtfully programmed at key moments in the schedule hints at some artistic direction that seeks to respond to the challenging two years the world has faced.

The headline messages from the BBC Proms team are something like this (if that’s the kind of thing you’re after). Big scale performances, a unique contribution from the newly formed Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra (31 July), a slew of concerts from the BBC’s orchestras and ensembles, and concerts from up and down the country (not just from the Royal Albert Hall). There are concerts for kids and ‘relaxed’ concerts for the neuro-diverse.

Composers celebrated this year including Raph Vaughan Williams, Ethel Smyth, Doreen Carwithen, George Walker, Iannia Xenakis, and Cesar Franck.

Fourteen world premieres, three European premieres, three UK premieres and four London premieres. Twenty two broadcasts on TV, and every concert broadcast on BBC Radio 3. There are 9 international orchestras appearing at the 72 concert strong season. Video game music fans are also granted their first Prom too including music by Guonadottir and Slater from the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

Selected Highlights

I’m pleased to see horn player (and former Thoroughly Good Classical Music Podcastee) Ben Goldscheider debut at the Proms this year (look what a podcast appearance does for your reputation people), also the incredible Yuja Wang playing Lizst with the electrifying Klaus Mäkelä conducting on 12 August.

Verdi’s Requiem opens the season on 15 July – something of a memorial perhaps for what has gone before now, featuring the Crouch End Festival Chorus and BBC Symphony Chorus. Fitting.

I’m especially pleased to see Beethoven’s epic Missa Solemnis with Gardiner and Orchestre Revolutionnaire et Romantique and Monteverdi Choir on the 7th September. My 50th. Fabulous.

Overall, in comparison to previous Proms seasons (notwithstanding the relative weirdness of the past two years), there’s more on offer that piques my interest.

There’s little that feels overtly crowbarred in (if anything I’m amazed it’s taken as long as it has to get video game music in the running order), there are just a handful of mixed genre promotions (and precious few of the often nauseating BBC-branded/themed concerts that had been appearing in the schedule in the past like the Desert Island Discs Prom).

There’s repertoire there that I haven’t previously made a beeline for (Xenakis) too, so for someone like me (long in the tooth, cynical and prone to moments of intense bitterness), there’s the opportunity for discovery. For anyone new to classical music there’s range. In that way then there’s a sense then that this is a back to what works in terms of programming. Put another way, there’s nothing on the list that immediately gets my back up.

I’m also especially impressed by the commitment to taking the Proms out of the Royal Albert Hall, to UK locations like Belfast and in particular Truro which must often feel a world away from London for classical music lovers in what is an underserved part of the country. Similarly, staging the Handel/Glass Prom at Printworks will provide entirely different visuals from the interior of the Royal Albert Hall. Seeing this event as part of the Proms family is interesting given its a co-production between a variety of organisations and the Printworks venue – will we see more of this approach in years to come?

When does the BBC Proms start and finish?

The BBC Proms runs from 15 July and finishes on Saturday 10 September. Booking opens for tickets on 21 May. Promming tickets are £6.50. Cheapest seated tickets are £8.50. Be sure to ring on the day for returns – you’ll always get something, especially if you’re happy to sit apart from your pals.

How can I listen to the BBC Proms?

Every Prom is broadcast live on BBC Radio 3. Some are on TV – BBC Four, BBC One and BBC Two. They’ll all be available on BBC Sounds for 30 days after broadcast. Some will be repeated at Christmas too. Radio 3 also repeats broadcasts of each Prom in the afternoon during the summer too. Check,, or for more information.

What are the best BBC Proms to attend?

Here are Thoroughly Good you’ll find recommendations based on my personal experience. Technically speaking there’s no such thing as ‘best’ because there are no guarantees. Classical music depends on you the listener, the mood you’re in the night you’re there.

But there are some concerts in the 72 concert line-up I’m particularly drawn to, which is what the criteria is for listing them here.

Note, as this post has been written without the brochure in my hands there’s a chance some of the details are (ever so slightly) incorrect. But, keep checking back as they will be updated.

Prom 1 / Verdi Requiem – It’s the first night, the first night is special

Prom 2 / Huw Watkins Flute Concerto – Watkins is very popular amongst musicians, writes fabulous music, and I sometimes see him at my local train station when he and I are heading into or back from London.

Belfast Prom / Xenakis

Prom 7 / Dido and Aeneas / La Nuova – they were the only group who sent me an embargoed press release (shame on the rest of you)

Truro Prom / Alim Beisembayev – Lizst’s Transcendental Etudes are epic and terrifying and utterly utterly brilliant

Prom 14 / CBSO, Ben Goldscheider and Elena Urioste – both of these musicians form part of the Kaleidoscope Collective (who are brilliant), plus the gig has Rachmaninov 2 in it.

Proms 17 / Brahms German Requiem

Prom 20 / Xenakis’ Jonchaies

Prom 21 / Monday 1 August / Video Game Music featuring music by Gudnadottir, Kondo, Shumomura, Otani, and Jessica Curry – Kondo’s music makes me want to play video games and I hate video games.

Prom 26 / Friday 5 August / Julian Anderson Premiere

Prom 27 / Saturday 6 August / Danny Elfman’s Wunderkammer with the National Youth Orchestra (London Premiere)

Prom 28 / Leif Ove Andsnes and the Mahler Chamber Orchestra

Prom 29 / Leif Ove Andsnes and the Mahler Chamber Orchestra

Prom 30 / Tredegar Band and the BBC National Orchestra of Wales

Prom 31 / Ulster Orchestra with Daniele Rustioni – a grand return for Northern Ireland’s hard-working band

Prom 32 / Brass Band Prom – finally a brass band prom featuring the Tredegar Band and Yu-Hang Yang as euphonium soloist

Prom 35 / Yuja Wang playing Lizst Piano Concerto No. 1 with Klaus Makela and the Oslo Philharmonic

Prom 37 / Benjamin Grosvenor

Prom 46 / Augustin Hadelich / WDR Symphony

Prom 52 / Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra with Nicholas Collon and violinist Pekka Kuusisto

Prom 57 / Bach B Minor Mass with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment

Prom 62 / Berlin Philharmonic / Mahler 7

Prom 64 / Sir Andras Schiff / Beethoven Sonatas 30, 31 and 32

Prom 67 / Wynton Marsalis Violin Concerto with Nicola Benedetti – its BRILLIANT

Prom 69 / Missa Solemnis / Orchestra Revolutionnaire et Romantique

What’s on at Ryedale Festival 2022

The 40th Ryedale Festival gets underway from 15th July 2022 and concludes with a gala performance given by Royal Northern Sinfonia and trumpeter Lucienne Renaudin Vary on 31st July 2022.

Full listings for the entire programme are available via the festival brochure and website.

Happy memories from last year’s Thoroughly Good Trip to the Ryedale Festival abound flicking through the 40th festival brochure this morning. Thanks to the work of Artistic Director and pianist Chris Glynn, Ryedale builds on its growing artistic reputation.

This year sees residencies with Roderick Williams, the National Youth Choir of Great Britain, Philharmonia Baroque of San Francisco, the Maxwell Quartet and Gesualdo Six, the latter’s rise during and post-pandemic across the UK and international arts scene is a delight to see.

Highlights across the 52 concerts mix appearances from Dame Janet Baker and Stephen Kovacevich, Leeds Piano Competition winner from 2021 Alim Beisembayev, Royal Overseas League Gold Medal Winner accordionist Ryan Corbett, London Mozart Players with pianist Martin James Bartlett.

There are also six world premieres from Julian Philips, Errollyn Wallen and Tarik O’Regan, Roxanna Panufnik, Joseph Howard, Roberts Balanas and Callum Au.

Ryedale Festival Programme 2022

Full listings for the entire programme are available via the festival brochure and website. General booking opens 20th April 2022.