BBC Proms appoints first female director for Last Night

Alsop conducted the Sao Paulo Symphony Orchestra at last year's Proms

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BBC's The Last Night of The Proms is to be led by a female conductor for the first time in its 118 year history.

American Marin Alsop said she was "thrilled" to conduct the BBC Symphony Orchestra and violinist Nigel Kennedy.

The festival, which begins on 12 July, includes 92 concerts at the Royal Albert Hall and four across the UK.

The Doctor Who Proms will return as part of the 50th anniversary, while BBC 6 Music will host its first Prom with Brit award winner Laura Marling.

"I think the fact that I'm an American woman, conducting the last night of the Proms is really a statement," Alsop told the BBC.

"I'm extraordinarily proud to be the first woman, but I'm also sad that it's 2013 and there still can be firsts for women," she added.

Alsop will be joined by mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato and Kennedy, who is performing at the closing night for the first time.

Director of the Proms and BBC Radio 3 controller Roger Wright said since conducting started it has been a "man's world".

"There are some of us who are moving that on - not least the women artists themselves," he added.

Matt Smith tells the BBC's Lizo Mzimba he is proud that the Doctor Who Proms will return as part of the programme's 50th anniversary celebration.

With over 50 conductors taking part in the Proms, five are women.

"I think it's a matter of society becoming comfortable with seeing women in these types of leadership roles," said Alsop.

The Doctor Who Proms returns for the third time as part of the 50th anniversary celebrations, will feature special guests in two concerts.

Matt Smith said: "I love the Albert Hall. I love the Proms. I love classical music. I think it's a great thing to see all of Murray [Gold]'s really brilliant score over the years come to life. And yeah, it's something we're really pleased and proud to be a part of."

BBC 6 Music are hosting a Late Night Prom for the first time with broadcasters Steve Lamacq and Cerys Matthews introducing folk singer Laura Marling and punk legends The Stranglers.

"It's like nothing we've tried before but that's the genius of 6 Music," Lamacq told the BBC News website.

Matthews, who will also be performing at the event, said she hoped it would "push the boundaries".

"We don't want to cheapen the proms at all, we just want to enjoy it," she added.

Finnish conductor Sakari Orama will lead the opening night with this first concert as chief conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra.

The Proms will celebrate the 200th year of Wagner's birth with performances of his Ring cycle by Staatskapelle Berlin, conducted by Isreali-Argentine Daniel Barenboim.

A special concert dedicated to Sir Colin Davis, who died on 15 April, will be held on 20 August - when he was due to lead the London Symphony Orchestra with tenor Ian Bostridge.

The BBC Proms runs from 12 July to 7 September. The full list of events can be found at the BBC Proms website.

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