The 2024 BBC Proms season plays host to music by Thomas Adès, Francisco Coll, Jonathan Harvey, and Cassandra Miller this summer at London’s Royal Albert Hall, including two UK premieres and a BBC Radio 3 co-commission receiving its Proms debut. 

On 5 September Simon Rattle and the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra give the UK premiere of Thomas Adès’ Aquifer. Writing in the New York Times, Joshua Barone called the 17-minute piece “compact and intense” following its premiere in Munich on 14 March; its title describes a geological structure which can transmit water. Cast in one movement, it begins by welling up from the deepest notes; successive sections slow and accelerate with greater and lesser degrees of rhythmic and harmonic instability underlying them. It culminates in an ecstatic coda. Rattle calls Aquifer a “virtuoso celebration of what an orchestra could do and how it could groove together”. Rattle conducted the world premiere of Adès’ Dawn with the London Symphony Orchestra at the 2020 Proms.

On 18 August Sol Gabetta joins the BBC Symphony Orchestra for the UK debut of Francisco Coll’s Cello Concerto (2021-22), conducted by Tianyi Lu. Cast in four unbroken movements, it opens with jerky, syncopated rhythms, suggestive of Argentinian Tango, before a more transparent and crystalline second movement. An impassioned soliloquy for solo cello follows before the vivacious Festoso finale. It premiered with Gabetta and the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, conducted by Coll. The commission for the 20-minute work was led by Kammerorchester Basel with the support of the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia, with co-commissioners Radio France, and BBC Radio 3.

On 31 July Cassandra Miller’s celebrated viola concerto I cannot love without trembling makes its Proms debut with Lawrence Power, John Storgårds and the BBC Philharmonic. Described by Alex Ross as “music of bruising immediacy” (New Yorker), the work finds twin creative wellsprings in the writing of Simone Weil and recordings of Greek émigré violinist Alexis Zoumbas. The 25-minute piece was co-commissioned by BBC Radio 3, Brussels Philharmonic, Canada’s National Arts Centre Orchestra, and Scottish Chamber Orchestra, supported by The Viola Commissioning Circle.

On 3 August the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Sakari Oramo perform Jonathan Harvey’s Tranquil Abiding (1999). The 14-minute work for chamber orchestra finds its imaginative wellspring in Harvey’s Buddhist faith, the title referring to a term for a state of single-pointed concentration. It is based on a single, slow breathing rhythm: a simple oscillation between an ‘inhalation’ on an upper note and an ‘exhalation’ on a lower one. Overlaid with increasingly ornate melodic fragments, this simple unifying device creates an organic and coherent trajectory through the work’s wave-like form and towards its limpid conclusion.