On 8 August 2019, BBC National Orchestra and Chorus of Wales conducted by Tadaaki Otaka will give the world premiere of Huw Watkins’ new work The Moon at the BBC Proms. The work, which has been inspired by the fiftieth anniversary of the moon landing on 20 July 1969, is the result of a major BBC Radio 3 commission for chorus and orchestra that will be further augmented by the Royal Albert Hall’s organ.
On 12 August, Huw Watkins’ new Cello Concerto (2016) will receive its world premiere at the 2016 BBC Proms.
Commissioned by BBC Radio 3, Watkins composed the Cello Concerto for his brother Paul Watkins, who will perform as soloist with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and their Principal Conductor Thomas Søndergård. This is Huw Watkins’ first commission as Composer in Association with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, a three-year appointment that will include two further orchestral commissions.
Watkins has a longstanding relationship with BBC NOW beginning in 2001 with the commissioning of his Piano Concerto (2001-2), his first major orchestral work. The orchestra later commissioned a Double Concerto (2004–5) for the 2005 BBC Proms, and have given many performances of his works. Paul Watkins has a similarly strong relationship with BBC NOW, and Huw has stated that the Cello Concerto seemed an obvious choice for his first Composer in Association project.
“Paul’s wonderfully expressive, and deeply musical cello playing has been at the front of my mind while writing the piece. Perhaps this explains why the two outer movements are largely slow, with the lyrical qualities of the cello to the fore; although the central movement is, for the most part, a mercurial scherzo.”
Watkins is currently working on his first Symphony, commissioned by the Hallé Orchestra, which will premiere in spring 2017 with Sir Mark Elder.
This year’s BBC Proms will include a performance of Arnold Schoenberg’s A Survivor from Warsaw (1947) on 8 August. Simon Russell Beale will narrate, with Esa-Pekka Salonen conducting the Philharmonia Orchestra and Philharmonia Voices.