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BBC Proms celebrates record-breaking ticket sales

The BBC Proms sold a record-breaking number of tickets during last weekend’s 2024 onsale, it has been revealed.

Nearly 103,000 tickets were sold for the classical music series on Saturday 18 May after general booking opened at 9am – the highest number of Proms tickets ever sold online in a single day.

Taking into account telephone and in-person sales, more than 107,000 were sold on Saturday – up almost 36% on last year. When combined with Sunday’s figures and the figures for season tickets, the total number of tickets sold is almost 125,000.

“I am delighted that the 2024 Proms, my last as director, are proving so appealing,” says BBC Proms director David Pickard. “With many of our core classical concerts selling fast, it shows that the public’s appetite for classical orchestral music is as strong as ever. To see such huge audiences for Mahler, Beethoven, Britten, Bruckner, Verdi and Holst reinforces the original vision of the festival – to bring the best of classical music to the widest possible audience.”

Held predominantly at London’s Royal Albert Hall, the 2024 BBC Proms season runs from 19 July until 14 September and features 90 Proms with over 3,000 musicians.

The most in-demand Proms are the First Night of the Proms conducted by Elim Chan (19 July), Everybody Dance! The Sound of Disco (20 July), Sir Mark Elder conducts Mahler’s Fifth (21 July), Verdi’s Requiem (23 July), CBeebies Proms (27 July, two concerts), Yunchan Lim performs Beethoven, Bruckner and Tüür (29 July), Sam Smith (2 August), Anne-Sophie Mutter performs Brahms with the West-Eastern Divan (11 August), Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony (12 August) and Britten’s War Requiem (17 August).

“I am thrilled that this year’s opening on sale weekend has been record-breaking, demonstrating the UK’s passion for live music”

The list also includes Aurora Orchestra performs Beethoven’s Ninth (18 August), Holst’s The Planets (25 August), Doctor Who Proms (26 August, two concerts), Simon Rattle conducts Mahler’s Sixth (6 September) and Florence + The Machine: Symphony of Lungs (11 September).

Tickets for the majority of the 2024 BBC Proms are still available, while up to 1,000 Promming tickets will be released for every single Prom, priced at £8 and available at 10.30am on the day of the concert.

“I am thrilled that this year’s opening on sale weekend has been record-breaking, demonstrating the UK’s passion for live music,” adds Sam Jackson, controller, Radio 3 and BBC Proms. “It’s noteworthy that the 15 best-selling Proms reflect the breadth and variety of what the BBC Proms offers, from international orchestras and star soloists through to family concerts and genre-defying gems.

“While these figures are very encouraging, audiences should be aware that no Prom at the Royal Albert Hall is ever sold out until the day itself, because you can buy standing tickets for every single concert, on the day. And of course, all concerts will be broadcast on Radio 3.”

BBC Radio 3 will broadcast every single Prom, and they will all be available on BBC Sounds. Other BBC Radio networks, including Radio 1 and Radio 2 will broadcast highlights, while 24 programmes will also be broadcast on TV and BBC iPlayer.


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All Things Orchestral returns to BST Hyde Park

London’s BST Hyde Park has announced the return of its classical music offering, All Things Orchestral, as part of Open House.

Spearheaded by AEG Presents’ Lucy Noble, All Things Orchestral launched last year with a mission to “bring classical music back for all”.

The 28 June event will again be presented by Myleene Klass and performed by the Philharmonic Concert Orchestra (conducted by Michael England), with special guests including guitarist MILOŠ and violinist Esther Abrami.

The show will take fans on a journey through both traditional and contemporary classical music, with performances of film music, video game scores, music from the musicals, symphonic arrangements of rock and pop songs and more.

In line with the “accessible ethos” of Open House and All Things Orchestral, Gold Circle ticket prices will be available from £7.95 on first release.

“All Things Orchestral is accessible and affordable, exposing new generations to a genre of music they might be less familiar with”

Open House is BST’s free-to-enter midweek programme for the local community and beyond, which typically includes workshops for children, Wimbledon screenings, outdoor cinema and more.

“We are thrilled to be presenting another amazing orchestral concert as part of BST Hyde Park’s Open House,” says Lucy Noble, Artistic Director at AEG Presents. “Classical and orchestral music is for everyone, and should be available to everyone – All Things Orchestral at BST Hyde Park is accessible and affordable, exposing new generations to a genre of music they might be less familiar with. We want audiences to be excited about this kind of music, and show that it is to be enjoyed just like any other.”

Jim King, CEO of European Festivals at AEG Presents, says, “We have a line-up of incredible artists for BST Hyde Park 2024, and we look forward to opening the festival with the world-class Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra. We’re so excited to welcome back All Things Orchestral as part of our Open House programme, where we will bring high-quality family classical music to Hyde Park – it’s the perfect way to start the summer.”

All Things Orchestral kicks off this year’s BST Hyde Park series, which includes SZA, Kings Of Leon, Morgan Wallen, Robbie Williams, Shania Twain, Stevie Nicks, Kylie Minogue and Stray Kid, as well as the event’s first classical headliner Andrea Bocelli.

The 65,000-cap event takes place on select dates between 29 June and 14 July.


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André Rieu plays UAE’s biggest classical concert

Dutch violinist and conductor André Rieu’s debut performance in Abu Dhabi has broken the record for the biggest-selling classical concert in the UAE.

Presented by pan-regional concert promoter MAC Global in association with Abu Dhabi Culture, the 9 March show pulled 12,000 people to the Etihad Arena, Yas Island.

Originally planned for 10,000 guests, organisers released an additional 2,000 tickets in response to public demand.

“We are thrilled to have witnessed history being made with the largest classical concert ever held in the UAE”

“Bringing André Rieu to Abu Dhabi has been a tremendous honour and the overwhelming response reaffirms our commitment to delivering unforgettable entertainment experiences,” says Rob McIntosh, CEO of MAC Global. “We are thrilled to have witnessed history being made with the largest classical concert ever held in the UAE.”

Part of Sony Music Entertainment, MAC Global was set up in 2014 by McIntosh and Daniel Goldberg and has staged a wide range of gigs in the Middle East from Michael Bublé to Tiësto.

The company’s upcoming presentations include Tom Grennan at The Agenda, Dubai on 24 May and Take That at Etihad Arena, Abu Dhabi on 25 October.


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AEG’s Lucy Noble on taking classical to the masses

AEG Presents’ first artistic director Lucy Noble has reflected on her first year in the role and her ongoing efforts to break down barriers around classical and orchestral music.

Noble joined AEG’s European senior leadership team in late 2022 after two decades at London’s Royal Albert Hall (RAH), where she held a hybrid commercial/artistic role at the venue prior to being appointed as its first artistic director in 2021.

At AEG, she has assumed responsibility for setting the artistic direction across the firm’s live touring and events business, and plans are afoot to grow the team.

“I felt like I had a few other adventures in me yet” she tells IQ. “I was working out what to do next, and this opportunity came up. It wasn’t that AEG was looking for an artistic director, we kind of cooked the idea up together – I was saying, ‘I can bring this and cover this whole range of genres you’re not doing.’

“I’m looking at theatrical projects, dance projects, immersive stuff… I’m basically creating a new division. AEG is very supportive because, although it will take time to build, it’s a big area of potential growth.”

Expanding the company’s repertoire, Noble is currently overseeing tours by the likes of Nitin Sawhney and Blue Man Group, and launched All Things Orchestral at BST Hyde Park in London last June as part of its Open House series programme of cultural activities.

“I think there are some barriers around classical music. Everyone needs to feel welcome and know that it is for them – and that it’s not elitist in any way”

“BST was a real highlight,” says Noble. “All Things Orchestral was the first classical offering at BST and it was a very short timeline to put it on – about five weeks or something.”

Presented by Myleene Klass, featuring Alfie Boe and performed by the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra, the event took fans on a journey through classical music, both traditional and modern. With a mission to “bring classical music back for all”, general admission ticket prices were set at £11.45 (€13.38).

“It was all about having that relaxed, family offering with accessible ticket prices,” she adds. “We’re hopefully doing it again this year.”

In 2024, BST will go a step further by welcoming Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli, who will become the event’s first classical headliner on 5 July (“That’s largely gone through the festival team, although I’ve been slightly involved,” clarifies Noble).

Nevertheless, her first year has not been without obstacles, and Noble explains her chief concern is to spread the message that the genre is “for everyone”.

“I think there are some barriers around classical music,” she says. “I think that everyone needs to feel welcome and know that it is for them – and that it’s not elitist in any way. I want to let everyone listen to it. That might mean presenting it in slightly different ways, but it doesn’t mean dumbing it down, because it will still be of the highest quality.”

“I want to take orchestras into new environments… It’s hard, but we will get there”

She continues: “I worked with six of the major UK-based orchestras last year, and I think I’m the only commercial promoter to be doing that. I want to support UK orchestras because they’re amazing, and open them up to as many people as possible, but it is a challenge.

“I want to take orchestras into new environments. I took some into the arenas last year, and it was hard to get those audiences to migrate to different venues, so there’s a lot of work to be done. It’s hard, but we will get there. I’m determined to open it up.”

Under Noble’s direction, the RAH gained a reputation as a promoter in its own right, producing original concerts as well as attracting a wide range of high profile shows, promoters and artists. At AEG, she is tasked with overseeing content creation as well as the production of new events. She is also responsible for promoting and touring shows.

“It’s a completely different world being a promoter to running a venue, it couldn’t be more opposite, and it took me a while to get into the new way of doing it all,” remarks Noble. “And obviously coming from a charity and then going to the commercial sector was quite a change as well.

“It’s been more challenging than I thought, but there have also been some positives that I didn’t expect. I’m basically in a startup – that’s what it feels like – but I’ve pulled a proper business plan together now and now I think I can say where we’ll be in the next two, three, four, five years.”

Other related AEG projects include its films with orchestra series and Video Games in Concert, which brings scores from World of Warcraft, God of War: Ragnarok, The Last of Us and The Witcher III: Wild Hunt, among others, to UK concert halls with The Heritage Orchestra, conducted by Eímear Noone. Noble has also organised a tour with organist and TikTok star Anna Lapwood.

“I work in a world that doesn’t necessarily conform with the traditional styles of promoting”

“The target is to grow the business and do more shows, but it’s about quality, not quantity,” says Noble. “I want to be an integral part of the promoting community so that people come to us as their first choice, because we do things really well.

“I’m trying to think about promoting differently and that’s because I work in a world that doesn’t necessarily conform with the traditional styles of promoting. But also with my experience in the charitable sector, I’m able to add in different strands alongside the concerts.

“I’ve been talking to artists about how they engage with things like music education which could include workshops in schools but then on the other side of things thinking creatively about how they present their material and that could mean us working with arrangers so that artists can perform with orchestras.”

While Noble’s initial focus has been on the UK, there is also an eye on expanding into Europe and other territories.

“I am UK-based mostly but I’m looking at some global projects that AEG will potentially invest in,” she says. “For example, I’m looking at doing a Christmas season at one of our venues, Verti Music Hall in Berlin.”

Outside of AEG, Noble has taken on the role of vice chair of Nordoff and Robbins, supporting newly installed chair Emma Banks of CAA, after joining the music therapy charity’s Board of Trustees last April.

“I’m excited to do that because it fulfils the charitable side, which has played such a big part in my life until now,” says Noble. “It’s great that I can help support them and I’m really looking forward to working with Emma. I’m going to help them with the business overall, but fundraising will be a key element.”

Noble also offers her thoughts on the Women and Equalities Committee’s (WEC) recently published Misogyny in Music report, which concluded that: “Sexual harassment and abuse in the music industry remains widespread” and demanded urgent action to tackle “endemic” misogyny and discrimination in the UK business. ILMC will be hosting a discussion on Thursday 29 February to consider the response from the live sector.

“It’s definitely something that needs to be addressed,” says Noble. “It needs to be addressed front-on and I’m glad that it’s being highlighted. I think it’s important.”


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DEAG acquires Germany’s Classic Open Air

DEAG has enhanced its presence in the classical and jazz market with the acquisition of classical music festival Classic Open Air.

The German live entertainment group has acquired 85% of the shares in the event, which celebrated its 30th anniversary this year, via its DEAG Classics AG subsidiary.

Launched in 1992, Classic Open Air has grown under the direction of Gerhard Kämpfe und Mario Hempel to attract around 25,000 to 30,000 visitors each year to the Gendarmenmarkt in Berlin. Highlights have included evenings with Till Brönner, Sarah Connor, Katie Melua, José Carreras, Al Jarreau, the Scorpions, Earth Wind & Fire, Montserrat Caballé, Udo Jürgens, Chris de Burgh, Roger Cicero and Joja Wendt.

“We are adding an attractive festival series to our event portfolio, which has already hosted many top national and international stars in recent years,” say DEAG CEO Peter Schwenkow and Jacqueline Zich, divisional board member of DEAG Classics AG. “We are delighted to be able to contribute to the further development of Classic Open Air with our live expertise and outstanding network.”

“DEAG has the potential to make this unique event even more international”

As well as expanding its activities and market position in the classics and jazz segment, DEAG says it expects to achieve synergy effects in the concert business and in the acquisition of artists, among other areas.  The deal will also increase the volume of DEAG’s ticketing business.

Hempel, MD of Media On-Line, the organiser of Classic Open Air, will remain a shareholder and continue to provide long-term support and advice to the company together with DEAG Classics AG.

“I am very pleased to have found the right partner in Peter Schwenkow and DEAG Classics AG for the further development of Classic Open Air at Gendarmenmarkt, which will celebrate its 30th anniversary this year,” says Hempel. “DEAG has the potential to make this unique event even more international at one of the world’s most beautiful venues and I am very much looking forward to being able to accompany this.”


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Kharkiv Music Fest takes place in bomb shelter

A string quintet performed to hundreds of residents taking shelter in an underground train station to mark what would have been the first day of Kharkiv Music Fest.

Despite Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the organisers of the annual international classical music festival were determined to bring a slice of the festival to Ukraine’s second-largest city.

The five musicians delivered a ‘concert between explosions’ – as it was dubbed on social media – opening with the Ukrainian national anthem, then playing works by Bach and Dvořák, alongside arrangements of Ukrainian folk songs.

The conductor and artistic director of the Kharkiv festival, Vitali Alekseenok, explained that the chosen music was programmed to highlight the connections between Ukrainian and Western European culture.

“Music can unite,” Alekseenok told The Washington Post. “It’s important now for those who stay in Kharkiv to be united.”

“Music can unite”

Music teacher and violinist Olha Pyshchyta said that performing in the subway sparked a range of emotions, after a month of war.

She said she was angry and tired “but at the concert … we felt unity”. “I, like all Ukrainians, are waiting for victory,” Pyshchyta said.

Fellow violinist Stanislav Kucherenko told The Post that the concert was unlike any other he’d played: “There was at no stage the excitement that usually happens when performing for people but I knew that I was where I should be.”

Kucherenko said music can have a “strong influence on the psycho-emotional state of a person and in the conditions of war it can inspire faith and optimism”.

Kharkiv Music Fest would’ve taken place in the grand hall of the Kharkiv Philharmonic on Saturday 26 March.


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German town hosts concerts in swimming pool

A German town is hosting a series of concerts in its municipal swimming pool, which has been closed since the outbreak of coronavirus.

Under the name Kult(ur)-Bad 2020 (“Cult(ure) [in the]-Pool 2020”), authorities in Entringen, in the south-western state of Baden-Wurttemberg, have turned the town’s empty outdoor pool into a makeshift concert venue.

The first performance took place on 19 July, with Bayreuth cellist Jürgen Gerlinger playing a series of Bach suites while seated at a depth of four metres (13’), according to local media.

Future events in the Kult(ur)-Bad 2020 series include a comedy and jazz night on 2 August, a Spanish guitar recital on 9 August and a Latin classical concert on 16 August.

Fans are advised to bring blankets to sit on (no chairs are allowed), as well as headgear when it’s sunny, while face coverings are mandatory.

“The acoustics are great down there”

Speaking to local public broadcaster SWR2, swimmer-turned-concert organiser Martina Riester praises the pool’s suitability as a music venue. “There are [great] acoustics down there,” she says.

The Entringen pool is the latest non-traditional concert venue to be repurposed during the coronavirus pandemic, with fans now seeing shows from their cars, bicycles, rickshaws, balconies and lawns, in addition to virtual events streamed to their homes.


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Hackers target livestreamed IPO fundraiser

The disruption of an Israel Philharmonic Orchestra (IPO) virtual concert and fundraising gala last weekend was caused by a cyberattack, the orchestra has confirmed.

The attack – the first outage of a major livestreamed show since the format took off amid the coronavirus pandemic – crashed the websites of the IPO and its broadcast partner, Medici.tv, during the stream on Sunday 28 June.

More than 13,000 people had registered to view the hour-long event, hosted by Dame Helen Mirren, which aimed to help the orchestra overcome financial losses as a result of Covid-19.

No group has claimed responsibility for hacking the stream.

“Hackers were determined to silence our message and stamp out our voice, but they will not succeed”

“We were thrilled that so many had registered to join us for this event, giving us the opportunity to bring the healing power of music to people who need it at this difficult time,” comments Tali Gottlieb, executive director of the IPO Foundation.

“Our organisation had high hopes that this event would help us raise emergency funds to support the members of the Israel Philharmonic in the face of an unprecedented financial crisis.”

Danielle Ames Spivak, executive director of American Friends of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, which helped organise the event, adds: “Hackers were determined to silence our message and stamp out our voice, but they will not succeed. More than ever, we are determined to spread the Israel Philharmonic’s message of hope, peace, and beauty around the world.”


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Barcelona venue to reopen…with concert for plants

The Liceu Grand Theatre, the historic 2,292-seat concert hall on la Rambla in Barcelona, will reopen its doors next week – but not to humans.

Although venues in Spain have been allowed to hold events at a third their usual capacity since 8 June, the Liceu is taking a different tack when it holds its first post-lockdown event on Monday (22 June), eschewing an audience of homo sapiens in favour of one comprised of simpler lifeforms.

For Concierto para el Bioceno (Concert for the Biocene), which takes place at 5pm local time, all seats in the Liceu are reserved for plant life, for which the UceLi Quartet will perform Puccini’s ‘Crisantemi’ (‘Chrysanthemums’).

With “the participation of the vegetable kingdom”, the concert will see man become “a spectator of their own social chronicle”, explains Víctor García de Gomar, the Liceu’s artistic director. After the concert, the plants will be donated to 2,292 healthcare staff.

While no humans (other than the orchestra) will be physically present, those of us who aren’t lucky enough to be members of the vegetable kingdom will be able to watch the performance live on YouTube.


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FIM outlines recommendations for return to work

The International Federation of Musicians (FIM), an umbrella body comprising around 70 musicians’ unions worldwide, has issued a series of recommendations to enable artists to return to work in the safest possible way amid the ongoing Covid-19 outbreak.

The guidelines – targeted at classical musicians but relevant for all touring artists – say while “there is a common desire of musicians, employers and audiences” to reopen music venues “as soon as possible”, this must be accompanied by the “adoption, implementation and enforcement of adequate safety measures in order to protect musicians against the risks arising from possible exposure to the Sars-Cov‑2 [coronavirus] as they return to work.”

Among the FIM’s recommendations are that musicians with one or more symptoms of Covid-19 infected should be “exempted” from performing or rehearsing; that distance is kept between musicians on stage, as well as between artists and performers; widespread access to hand-washing facilities or sanitiser; and one-way paths inside venues, and separate entrances and exits to enclosed spaces such as dressing or green rooms, to avoid unnecessary social contact.

The guidance also expresses a preference for open-air events; where that is not possible, everyone attending an indoor concert should wear face coverings, it adds.

The FIM document follows the updated WHO mass-gathering guidelines, put out earlier this month, as well as other previously released guides to safe venue reopening, available from IQ’s Covid-19 resource centre.

Download the federations’s recommendations in full in PDF format here.


This article forms part of IQ’s Covid-19 resource centre – a knowledge hub of essential guidance and updating resources for uncertain times.

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