Proms to pay tribute to conductor Andrew Davis with music ‘close to his heart’

The BBC Proms will pay tribute to the late British conductor Sir Andrew Davis.

Prom 53 will be performed in memory of Sir Andrew, who died at the age of 80 in April following a battle with leukaemia and was one of the longest-serving chief conductors of the BBC Symphony Orchestra.

It will be conducted by Martyn Brabbins, replacing Sir Andrew, and feature a revised programme.

The first sessions have no change, with Stravinsky’s Symphony in Three Movements and the UK premiere of Jacob’s Ladder by Steve Reich, co-commissioned by the BBC, going ahead.

The second half will pay tribute to Sir Andrew with the performance of Sir Michael Tippett’s The Midsummer Marriage – Ritual Dances, and the Enigma Variations by Sir Edward Elgar, which were created by British composers and were “close to his heart”, according to the BBC.

Sam Jackson, controller of BBC Radio 3 and BBC Proms, said: “Sir Andrew Davis was a remarkable man, whose impact on classical music at the BBC will be felt for years to come.

“He brought a tremendous sense of fun and enthusiasm to the BBC Proms, and I hope audiences will think of him whether in the Hall or listening on Radio 3.”

Sir Andrew will also be celebrated at the BBC Symphony Orchestra concert, titled A Sea Symphony and conducted by the ensemble’s chief conductor Sakari Oramo.

The music includes other English composers such as Ralph Vaughan Williams’ symphony inspired by the poetry of US poet Walt Whitman, Baron Benjamin Britten’s double concerto for violin and viola, with soloists Vilde Frang and Lawrence Power, and Oliver Knussen’s Cleveland Pictures.

Last Night of the Proms
Sakari Oramo conducting the BBC Symphony Orchestra (BBC/Chris Christodoulou)

“He was appreciated as a genuinely kind, graceful and charming person, one of the very best human beings in the classical music business. Everyone in the BBC SO (Symphony Orchestra) family is in mourning.”

In 1970, Sir Andrew made his debut with the BBC Symphony Orchestra and in the same year was appointed assistant conductor of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra.

He was a familiar face at the BBC Proms concerts in London and conducted the Last Night Of The Proms several times.

His final Prom was in 2022 with the BBC Philharmonic, and in 2019 he conducted the BBC National Orchestra of Wales at Hoddinott Hall in Cardiff.

His last public appearance was in December with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, when he conducted Handel’s Messiah at the Symphony Centre.

A Sea Symphony will take place on May 24 at the Barbican Hall, while Prom 53 will be held on August 30 at the Royal Albert Hall.

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