Musical youth: Proms opens with teen – and closes with youngest conductor since 1904

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The Independent Culture

The BBC Proms, the world's most prestigious classical music festival, is to make way for the fledgling talent and relative inexperience of a 19-year-old debutant pianist, the youngest Last Night conductor in more than a century and a 22-year-old who only learned her instrument in the 1990s. The pianist, Benjamin Grosvenor, will have just turned 19 when he becomes the youngest soloist to appear at the Proms' First Night on 15 July.

English National Opera music director Edward Gardner, 36, is the youngest Last Night conductor since Sir Henry Wood commanded the baton in 1904 aged 36. Alice Sara Ott, a 22-year-old German-Japanese pianist who began learning her instrument aged four in 1992, is to debut with a performance of the Grieg Piano Concerto in A Minor alongside the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

"We look for quality of performances, as well as those who can provide youthful energy," said BBC Proms director Roger Wright. Also appearing will be Australian quintet the Spaghetti Western Orchestra, who reinterpret film soundtracks using cereal packets and asthma inhalers.

On 2 September, the Budapest Festival Orchestra and Hungarian conductor Ivan Fischer will take requests, while there will also be the first Comedy Prom.

Proms 2011's new faces

Benjamin Grosvenor will be the youngest-ever soloist at the Proms' First Night when the teenaged pianist appears on 15 July.

Edward Gardner The 36-year-old is a former choral scholar at King's College, Cambridge, music director of Glyndebourne on Tour and music director of the English National Opera. From September he will be principal guest conductor of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra.

Alice Sara Ott The 22-year-old, who was born in Munich, learned piano at the age of four and has since toured the US, Europe and Japan. She has picked up numerous awards, including first prize in Italy's 2004 Pianello Val Tidone competition, and her recordings include Franz Liszt's Transcendental Etude.

Meanwhile at Glastonbury...

In contrast to the Proms, this year's Glastonbury line-up, which was also announced yesterday, seemed stuck in a muddy rut.

Morrissey, 51, will return to Worthy Farm in Somerset, 27 years after his first appearance at the festival. The bequiffed singer will join fellow Mancunians Elbow, and Paul Simon and American blues guitarist BB King to appease ageing audiences, while Mumford & Sons, White Lies, Queens of the Stone Age and Fleet Foxes will aim to entertain younger festival-goers.

This year's headliners at the festival on 24, 25 and 26 June, are the predictably mainstream rock and pop acts U2, Coldplay and Beyoncé.

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