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Composer Tavener to mix with Pet Shop Boys at BBC Proms festival

By Michael Roddy

LONDON (Reuters) - Premieres of two pieces by Britain's late mystical religious composer John Tavener and a staging of the classic musical "Kiss Me Kate" were among the highlights announced on Thursday for the BBC Proms, one of the world's biggest classical music events.

The Proms will pay tribute in its 120th season to the centenary of Britain's entry into World War One with a special "War Horse Prom" on August 4, the date Britain declared war on Germany in 1914. The event will feature puppets performing to a suite of music based on the score for the original National Theatre production of the play.

One of the Tavener pieces, "Requiem Fragments", sung by the Tallis Scholars, will have its premiere that same day.

Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe, who together form the Pet Shop Boys electronic pop duo, will premiere their new piece "A Man from the Future", based on the life of the mathematician and computer scientist Alan Turing.

British soul singer Laura Mvula will reprise her highly successful Late Night Prom aimed at younger audiences. American pop singer Rufus Wainwright also will stage a late-night Prom.

Other features of the eight-week-long event include performances of three operas of Richard Strauss in his 150th birthday year and 80th birthday tributes to two British composers, Harrison Birtwistle and Sir Peter Maxwell-Davies.

"The Proms is a big international festival that just happens to take place in the UK," Roger Wright, the event's director, said at a launch event.

Among the conductors appearing will be Simon Rattle, Ivan Fischer, Marin Alsop, Daniel Barenboim, Bernard Haitink, Riccardo Chailly and Valery Gergiev. Orchestras including the Berlin Philharmonic, the Budapest Festival Orchestra, the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Leipzig Gewandhaus and a range of British ensembles will perform.

Opera singers include Swedish soprano Nina Stemme and American soprano Christine Goerke, singing the lead roles in the Strauss dramatic works "Salome" and "Elektra" respectively on successive nights. The third Strauss opera is "Rosenkavalier".

Soloists include violinists Joshua Bell, James Ehnes, Julia Fisher, Tasmin Little, Daniel Hope and Janine Jansen, pianists Ingrid Fliter and Benjamin Grosvenor, and trumpeter Alison Balsom.

Wright noted that the festival is becoming increasingly international, with appearances at the Proms for the first time of orchestras and ensembles from China, Greece, Iceland, Lapland, Qatar, Singapore, South Korea and Turkey.

"There is a really interesting story to be told about global music making" and Western music being adopted by different cultures, Wright said.

One of the most anticipated events will be the John Wilson Orchestra's revival of Cole Porter's famous musical based on Shakespeare's "Taming of the Shrew". Wilson's revival last year of "My Fair Lady" was one of the most sought-after tickets.

The Proms will open on July 18 with Edward Elgar's rarely performed Biblical oratorio "The Kingdom", with a vast chorus and orchestra to shake the rafters of the Royal Albert Hall, the main venue for the Proms.

The famous Last Night of the Proms, on Sept 13, when the audience joins in to sing British favorites like "Jerusalem" and "Land of Hope and Glory", will be conducted for the first time by Finland's Sakari Oramo.

(Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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