Notes in the margin: In concert

With around 90 concerts on offer over the eight-week season, the 2011 Proms aren't short on highlights. Outdoing last year's Symphony of
a Thousand for sheer bulk is the 20th-century British composer Havergal Brian's Symphony No 1, "The Gothic" (Prom 4). This will be the best, if not the only, opportunity in a lifetime to hear the choral behemoth, which was abandoned in the archives for years.

A more mainstream highlight comes courtesy of the Gabrieli Consort and Players (Prom 58), whose performance of the Mendelssohn favourite Elijah with five other choral groups features a starry line-up of home-grown soloists.

King among this year's visiting orchestras is the Israel Philharmonic (Prom 62). The chance to hear its unparalleled string section accompanying Gil Shaham on Bruch's Violin Concerto No 1 should not be missed. Unusual orchestral programming from Oliver Knussen and the BBC Symphony Orchestra (Prom 19) pairs 20th-century classics with rarities from Castiglioni and Honegger, and the lighter side of things will be showcased by John Wilson and his orchestra (Prom 59), whose celebration of Hollywood's golden age has become a yearly fixture.

For those who prefer the intimacy of chamber music, Nigel Kennedy's late-night Prom (Prom 31) offers a chance to hear this provocative musician performing the most stripped-back of repertoire - Bach's music for solo violin.

Less risky but no less stylish, a programme of French baroque works from Les Talens Lyriques, masters of the genre (Proms Chamber Music 3), promises the perfect lunchtime concert.

Reinstating a Proms tradition, the popular composer concerts return this year with two evenings of Brahms from Bernard Haitink and the Chamber Orchestra of Europe (Proms 47 and 49). Tradition also gets a contemporary twist in the last night (Prom 74), which opens with a new commission from Peter Maxwell Davies and will be directed by the youngest conductor of the event since Henry Wood - English National Opera's musical director, Edward Gardner. l

Alexandra Coghlan

This article first appeared in the 18 July 2011 issue of the New Statesman, India