Florence Welch and Sam Smith to make BBC Proms debut in 2024 season

Florence Welch and Sam Smith will make their BBC Proms debut in the forthcoming season which will feature more than 3,000 musicians over eight weeks.

Following an extended period of uncertainty around their future, the BBC Singers will celebrate their centenary year with seven performances within the 2024 run.

The expansive programme from July 19 to September 14 will feature 90 concerts in total – 73 taking place at the home of the festival, London’s Royal Albert Hall and 17 hosted at venues across the UK.

The Fashion Awards 2023 – London
Sam Smith will make their BBC Proms debut this summer (Ian West/PA)

Singer Welch, of indie-rock band Florence + The Machine, will perform her Brit Award-winning 2009 album Lungs alongside Grammy-winning composer Jules Buckley and his orchestra when she takes to the stage on September 11, marking her only UK performance of the year.

For their show on August 2, Smith will sing a rendition of their Grammy-winning 2014 debut album In the Lonely Hour with the BBC Concert Orchestra to mark the record’s 10th anniversary.

On securing exclusive performances with the artists, BBC Proms director David Pickard said: “This isn’t just another trip after Glastonbury, this is something very special and we’re excited about the idea of opening up a different type of music to the Proms, but actually retaining the sense that this is an orchestral festival.

“And hopefully it will bring in the sort of audience that might not necessarily come to the Proms but now feel very welcome.”

Controller of Radio 3 and BBC Proms, Sam Jackson, also said the look and feel of Smith’s Prom will be “entirely appropriate for the festival” after the singer has become known for their dramatic outfits and shows.

“We’ve worked very hard with Sam Smith and their management on how we can create something that is authentically Proms,” Jackson added.

BBC Proms 2020
Nicholas Chalmers conducting the BBC singers during the First Night of the Proms 2020 (Chris Christodoulou/BBC/PA)

The programme will also see Grammy award-nominated multi-instrumentalist, singer and producer Jordan Rakei collaborate with the Royal Northern Sinfonia and Robert Ames to present tracks from his new album The Loop as well as music titles from his back catalogue.

It also features an array of family events and concerts for children including a new Doctor Who Prom and a CBeebies Prom.

While the BBC Singers will feature in the First and Last Night performances and on August 25, they will also perform an array of pieces that they have premiered over their 100-year history.

Earlier this year, the broadcaster announced it had agreed upon a sustainable plan for the future of the in-house chamber choir after it had been reviewing alternative funding models for its performing groups.

The broadcaster’s initial plans to scrap the BBC Singers sparked a backlash, with more than 140,000 signing a petition urging the BBC to reverse its decision.

Discussing their relationship with the choir at this time, BBC Proms controller Mr Jackson said they are in a “really good place”.

He added: “The BBC singers are confirmed as full-time, salaried BBC staff. We’re working with them really closely on plans for their centenary year at the Proms, but also across Radio Three.

“Later in the year as well, for their actual anniversary in the autumn, we’ve got lots of plans lined up so we’re in a very positive place.”

The BBC’s own ensembles, including the BBC Concert Orchestra and BBC Philharmonic, will feature across 38 Proms, and a further 20 orchestras and more than 25 choirs from all over the UK will perform throughout the season.

Hong Kong-born conductor Elim Chan will conduct the First Night of the Proms, featuring soloists Isata Kanneh-Mason and Sophie Bevan and a world premiere of Ben Nobuto’s Hallelujah Sim.

The Last Night will be conducted by Finnish conductor Sakari Oramo, featuring pianist Sir Stephen Hough and soprano Angel Blue, which will be her BBC Proms debut.

The programme this year features 10 female conductors and nearly a third of the Proms will feature an ethnically diverse soloist or conductor, the BBC said.

Reflecting on the gender and ethnic diversity within the Proms, Mr Pickard said: “I think for all of us, this is a journey we’re on.

“If you look back 15 years and see where we are now, we’re in a very, very different place. We still want to go further.

“And for me, the interesting thing is, for instance with with women conductors, is the new conductors that are making their debuts this summer that are women because that’s what we all need to do in the profession.

“And it’s an issue for the whole industry, of finding and developing the talent.”

Nigel Kennedy performs at the Proms
Nigel Kennedy performs with the BBC Concert Orchestra (Yui Mok/PA)

Outside of the capital, Gateshead will host a weekend-long residency and a new Proms residency will launch in venues across Nottingham.

Other Proms will take place across the UK in Aberdeen, Belfast and Newport.

The upcoming season will also mark the last before Mr Pickard steps down as director of the BBC Proms after being appointed to the role in 2015.

Every Prom will be broadcast live on BBC Radio 3 and will be later available on BBC Sounds, while 24 programmes, including the first and last night of the Proms, will be broadcast on BBC television and iPlayer.

The BBC Proms 2024 will run from July 19 to September 14, with tickets starting at £8.