Jigsaw pieces that make up a musical miracle

First Person: Nicholas Kenyon, Controller of BBC Radio 3, tonight launches his first season as director of the BBC Proms, and considers the challenges
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What will it be like on stage at the Albert Hall? I crept into the role of Proms performer only once myself, in the non-musical but nevertheless vital role of pianist's page-turner (a part which, however, has the potential to cause chaos if not performed properly).

In retrospect, the occasion has a certain poetic appropriateness: in his first Prom season as controller, Robert Ponsonby asked his predecessor, Sir William Glock, to play a Mozart piano quartet with members of the Lindsay Quartet, and I turned the pages for Sir William.

As only the fifth person on the Albert Hall stage in front of a packed house of thousands, which was to be treated to Boulez in Mahler's Second after the interval, one felt the full force of the incredible concentration of that audience, an audience surely unequalled in the world for its responsiveness and open-mindedness.

That Proms' audience is the first huge benefit for any new director. There is also 100 years of history, and a reputation for novelty and adventure. There is an instantly recognisable brand name, and the commitment of the BBC as patron and promoter, willing and able to risk new works, providing adequate rehearsal and preparation.

The Proms' planner starts with these vast advantages, and I had the daunting delight of starting with a blank sheet. In spite of what Bayan Northcott wrote in his very perceptive preview on Wednesday, I and my team did plan every single one of this year's concerts ourselves. We had some marvellous strokes of luck: the Berlin Philharmonic, not best pleased with Salzburg at the moment, preferring to come back to the Proms - where they received such an extraordinary reception two years ago, the Chicago Symphony on tour, but prepared to mount a special performance of the Beethoven Choral Symphony for us.

I like thematic planning. But I think it's difficult for all- encompassing themes to work at the Proms; besides, there's so much to fit in to what is actually less than 200 hours of concert-giving and broadcasting. So I went for an interlocking jigsaw puzzle of themes: creation, starting with Haydn tonight but also taking in Milhaud and Rameau, and recreation, highlighting composers' reworkings of other composers' music, from Elgar and Stokowski orchestrating Bach, to Schoenberg providing a technicolour dreamcoat for Brahms, and Vaughan Williams making use of Tallis.

Among the innovations this year is the Proms in the Park, our final extravaganza, which will beam the second half of the last night into Hyde Park.

I hope the event goes to prove that the Proms are for everyone, and can be enjoyed by everyone. I've inherited one of the miracles of the musical world.

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