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Festival's 118th season also features Barenboim's West-Eastern Divan Orchestra's Beethoven cycle and marks Delius, Debussy and John Cage anniversaries.

* Andrew Clements picks his proms highlights

All of Beethoven's symphonies are to be performed in their entirety at the BBC Proms for the first time in nearly 60 years, culminating in the ninth symphony on the opening night of the Olympics.

Daniel Barenboim and his West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, made up of Arab and Israeli musicians, will perform all nine symphonies and make Proms history by being the first ever non-BBC orchestra-in-residence.

Full details were announced on Thursday of the 118th season of the world's largest music festival. This year 92 concerts are being staged over two months.

Beethoven's ninth, with its message of universal brother and sisterhood, will be performed on 27 July with the National Youth Choirs of Great Britain.

"I think it is going to be one of those nights in Proms history," said Roger Wright, director of BBC Proms.

Wright promised a season that would help celebrate the diamond jubilee and the Olympics, and would also have a particular focus on British music and youth.

"This is a huge celebration of youth orchestras, ensembles and choirs. Throughout the whole summer you will see youth at the heart of what we are doing," he said.

This will be particularly evident on the weekend of 4-6 August when the Ulster Youth Orchestra of Northern Ireland, the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain, the National Youth Orchestras of Scotland and the National Youth Orchestra of Wales, all feature on successive evenings.

After the success of the Doctor Who proms and last year's Horrible Histories prom, the children's concert this year will feature Wallace & Gromit with a new commission from "Wallace" himself, entitled, My Concerto in Eee, Lad.

The Queen's jubilee and the Olympics will be reflected over the season, explicitly on the opening night, which will be devoted to British music, including Elgar's Coronation Ode (last heard at the Proms in 1902) and Sir Michael Tippett's Suite for the Birthday of Prince Charles.

Sir Roger Norrington, Sir Mark Elder, Martyn Brabbins and Edward Gardner, all British conductors, will be in charge in a baton-passing relay.

There will be more royal celebrations during Prom 54 with the London premiere of Sir Peter Maxwell Davies' ninth symphony. The work, by Davies, Master of the Queen's Music, honours the jubilee.

The Proms will also feature an abundance of British composers including Oliver Knussen and Simon Bainbridge, both 60 this year, and Hugh Wood and Alexander Goehr, who celebrate their 80th birthdays.

Wright said: "I've been particularly keen to include British music because I think there is often a sort of laziness of response to it, based not on having experienced it but a regard that it is probably a little second or third rate. I would much rather have that discussion based on people having heard the pieces rather than a lazy secondhand debate."

There are a number of Proms firsts: the first Brazilian orchestra in the line-up, in the shape of the São Paulo Symphony Orchestra, led by their newly installed chief conductor, Marin Alsop; the first time both the English National Opera (with Britten's Peter Grimes) and the Royal Opera Chorus (Berlioz' The Trojans) will perform complete operas in the same season; and more than likely the first time that amplified cacti and paper crumpling will be heard at the Royal Albert Hall as John Cage's centenary is marked by a concert, hosted by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra.

Other highlights include a Prom that will showcase repertoire selected by Desert Island Discs castaways; performances of My Fair Lady, and Gilbert & Sullivan's The Yeomen of the Guard; celebrations of Debussy and Delius to mark 150 years since their birth; and a late-night concert featuring the work of Ivor Novello, who was last performed at the Proms in 1914.

Wright said that, with 27 BBC commissions and 19 other premieres, there would be more new music than ever before.

About £5.5m of television licence payers' money goes to staging the festival, and ticket prices will be held at the same level as last year. Half-price tickets will be available to under-18s for the first time, instead of the usual concession for under-16s. Not to offer such tickets to 16-18-year-olds "was an opportunity we were missing", said Wright.

* Andrew Clements picks his proms highlights

Mark Brown
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