Get with the Proms Programme; Booking Opens on Saturday for the Classical Music Extravaganza of the Year -- from Barenboim on the Podium to a Stage Full of 600 Singers, Our Critic Barry Millington Makes His Recommendations

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Byline: Barry Millington makes

FOR lovers of classical music, the Proms are like a summerlong party with old favourites and new treats on offer every day. The shared experience of music-making in the Albert Hall is incomparable: the rapport between artists and audience is palpable and it's no surprise the world's top performers love to appear there.

This year the Proms celebrates the Olympics and the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, forming a major part in the London 2012 Festival. The cast is as starry as ever -- Antonio Pappano, Daniel Barenboim, Simon Rattle, even John Adams, take up the baton to give us everything from a complete Beethoven cycle to the John Wilson Orchestra's revival of My Fair Lady. Now is the time to book for that oncein-a-lifetime world-class performance -- or take a chance and try something new. You might like it.

THE BIG ONES THE TROJANS Prom 11, 4.30pm, July 22 Berlioz's opera Les Troyens, telling the story of the capture of Troy and the founding of a new empire (Rome), is on a suitably epic scale: four-and-ahalf hours of music that is by turns passionate, stirring and surprisingly intimate. One of the opera world's hottest properties, Jonas Kaufmann, takes the role of Aeneas. The orchestra and chorus are those of the Royal Opera, the conductor Antonio Pappano.

GURRELIEDER Prom 41, 8pm, Aug 12 Any performance of Schoenberg's Gurrelieder, with its massive orchestral and choral forces, its late Romantic ecstasy blazing to a climactic C major sunrise, is likely to be a major event. The Proms and the Albert Hall come into their own on occasions such as this and the BBC's orchestra and choirs, reinforced by two other London choruses, will no doubt do it proud.

THE BROADWAY SOUND Prom 59, 8pm, Aug 27 Showtime at the Proms with the John Wilson Orchestra has become one of the season's greatest hits in past years. Now Wilson brings the Broadway Sound ( Jerome Kern, Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, Richard Rodgers et al), with leading singers in sequences from Annie Get Your Gun, Kiss Me, Kate, Show Boat and much more.

BERLIN PHILHARMONIC Prom 63, 7.30pm, Aug 30, The first of two visits by the worldleading orchestra under its charismatic conductor, Simon Rattle, this programme descends from the rarefied heights of Ligeti's Atmospheres and Wagner's Lohengrin prelude (a depiction of Grail-bearing angels) to the bracing austerity of Sibelius's Fourth Symphony, before finally relishing the hedonistic delights of Debussy's Jeux and Ravel's Daphnis and Chloe.

NIXON IN CHINA Prom 72, 7pm, Sept 5 A historic confrontation between two dubious political figures, Richard Nixon and Mao Tse-tung, who met on the occasion of the American president's visit to Beijing in 1972, provides the unlikely impetus for John Adams's exuberant, pulsating, sometimes humorous score. Adams himself conducts, with Robert Orth and Alan Oke as Nixon and Mao.

THE CRITICS' CHOICE ALDEBURGH WORLD ORCHESTRA Prom 21, 8pm, July 29 Mark Elder conducts the recently formed Aldeburgh World Orchestra in a testing programme that begins with an interesting pairing of Britten's Sinfonia da Requiem and Mahler's unfinished Tenth Symphony, both expressing personal angst as much as social awareness of a wartorn century. Charlotte Bray's At the Speed of Stillness gets its world premiere as a curtain-raiser to the pounding exhilaration of Stravinsky's Rite of Spring.

SPIRITUAL QUEST Prom 25, 7.30pm, Aug 1 The world's greatest classical trumpeter, Hakan Hardenberger, is the soloist in Alois Zimmermann's Nobody Knows de Trouble I See, which, as the title suggests, draws on a spiritual associated with racial oppression in a moving, bluesinflected meditation. Spirituals also loom large in Tippett's ever-timely contemplation of man's inhumanity to man: A Child of Our Time.

THE APOSTLES Prom 37, 6.45pm, Aug 10 Overshadowed by his two other great oratorios, the Dream of Gerontius and the Kingdom, Elgar's Apostles nevertheless has many glories of its own. …


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