Pounding oceans, enchanted woods, threatened birds and the powerful words of Greta Thunberg … we meet the composers spearheading this year’s nature theme at the Proms
The Proms have a slightly uneasy relationship with Big Themes. Former director Nicholas Kenyon used to love them – grand overarching narratives designed to hold the otherwise unwieldy two-month music festival together. But his successors have been more circumspect, recognising that Proms-goers for the most part attend single concerts rather than a group of performances linked to, say, death or sex – or this year’s theme, nature, and our part in destroying it.
That big theme, admits current Proms director David Pickard, stole up on him almost unawares. “You don’t always start with a theme,” he says. “Pieces come in and it emerges. You start to see a theme emerging from what people are wanting to write. That was what happened with this. None of these things should be forced.”
Nature is not just the source of everything I do, it is the ultimate source of everything we human animals do
Art returns to the sense of wonder. Only then can we have meaningful activism