Dalia Stasevska conducts historic Last Night of the BBC Proms (12 September)

Principal Guest Conductor of BBC Symphony Orchestra and Chief Conductor Designate of Lahti Symphony Orchestra prepares to lead landmark performance

Much has happened in the year since Dalia Stasevska was invited to conduct the Last Night of the BBC Proms. The BBC Symphony Orchestra’s Principal Guest Conductor was looking forward to leading the end-of-season celebrations to a capacity Royal Albert Hall audience. She will, however, now direct what promises to be one of the most emotional and memorable Last Nights in Proms history, the culmination of a festival reconceived due to the Covid-19 pandemic. A global audience of millions is expected to watch or listen to Stasevska’s first Last Night when it is televised on the BBC and broadcast on BBC Radio 3 on Saturday 12 September.

“Of course I’m tremendously happy that the Last Night is going ahead this year and that we will have two weeks of live music at the Proms,” comments the 35-year-old Finnish conductor. “We all need music in our lives again and glimpses of light in challenging times. It will naturally be a very different Last Night from the past, but I do know that it will have terrific power to bring people together, not only in the UK but around the world too. I’m delighted that we’re able to make this happen.” Knowing that I’m going to perform music with my dear colleagues in the BBC Symphony Orchestra makes me smile every day.

The community of orchestral musicians is ready to return to work and looking forward to the day when it is safe to play to full concert halls again. The recent news of interim public funding hopefully offers performers and their audiences a sense of hope for the future of live music-making. The arts has been hit hard by lockdown and this investment is a positive sign that things are beginning to move in the right direction.”

The experience of isolation, social distancing and heavy restrictions on everyday life, notes Dalia Stasevska, has given people a chance to reflect on what they value most. Music’s essential importance, she says, has become ever clearer as weeks turned to months in lockdown. “I’ve realised over these months of lockdown just how much I need the arts and how much fulfilment music gives to my soul. I’ve listened to so much music and, despite the solitude and sad moments, it has brought me tremendous joy.”

As Chief Conductor designate of the Lahti Symphony Orchestra, Dalia Stasevska looks forward to the start of her tenure in the 2021-22 season. “It’s a wonderful orchestra with such a rich history,” she notes. “I’m so honoured to succeed great colleagues, to follow in their footsteps and bring something new to the job. The green agenda will play a big part in our planning and how we look at things. It is an orchestra with a great tradition of playing Sibelius, one of the anchors in my repertoire. I want to continue their ground-breaking work here and find fresh perspectives on his music. We will also make the orchestra’s programme a space for everybody. We will look for the meeting points with other genres, support contemporary composers and have a strong dialogue with our community.”

Stasevska concludes: ”We need to cherish our fantastic heritage and continue making new and exciting things happen. So many people want to get back to hearing live performances and I can’t wait to be part of it and share the music with audiences.”