Helen Grime premiere at the BBC Proms

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The BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and its Chief Conductor Ryan Wigglesworth will give the European Premiere of Meditations on Joy by Helen Grime at the BBC Proms on Sunday, July 23. The 15-minute piece, which the composer has described as ‘an exploration of joy in its many different forms, from a personal perspective’, will form the first part of a concert with Beethoven’s ninth symphony. The concert will be broadcast live on BBC Radio 3 and recorded for broadcast on BBC television at a later date.

'The act of composing, although often a huge challenge, can occasionally elicit the most intense feeling of joy, and that is something that I wanted to pervade the whole piece. This is contrasted by much darker music, the one often coming out of the other quite unexpectedly.'  – Helen Grime

Meditations on Joy was commissioned by Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, Music and Artistic Director Gustavo Dudamel, and the BBC. Following delays due to Covid, it was premiered in February 2023 by the LA Phil conducted by Otto Tausk. Following the work’s European premiere at the Proms, the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin and Robin Ticciati will perform the work on October 22 in a concert at the Philharmonie, Berlin, where it will once again be paired with Beethoven 9.

Listen on BBC Radio 3 and Sounds

This performance of Meditations on Joy at the Proms marks a return to the summer festival for Grime, whose music was first performed at the Royal Albert Hall in 2009, when Oliver Knussen conducted her breakthrough work Virga. This was followed by her first Proms commission – Night Songs - in 2012, once again conducted by Knussen. More recently, Sir Mark Elder and the Hallé gave the London Premiere of Near Midnight in 2014 and, in 2016, the BBC SSO and National Youth Orchestra of Scotland combined to present the World Premiere of Grime’s Two Eardley Pictures over the course of a weekend.

Grime’s latest orchestral work – River – will be premiered by the Philharmonisches Staatsorchester Hamburg under Kent Nagano at Hamburg’s Elbphilharmonie on October 8 and 9, with a further performance by the Orchestre de Paris and Christoph Koncz in Paris in April 2024.