BMW to Sponsor London Symphony Orchestra Open-Air Concerts

Valery Gergiev
A portrait of Valery Gergiev, principal conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra. Photographer: Alberto Venzago/Dvora Lewis PR via Bloomberg.

Bayerische Motoren Werke AG, the world’s largest maker of luxury vehicles, is teaming up with the London Symphony Orchestra for three years to sponsor free, annual open-air concerts.

The inaugural performance in the BMW LSO Open Air Classics program will take place in London’s Trafalgar Square on Saturday May 12, and appear on giant screens on either side of the stage. Conducted by Valery Gergiev, the concert will feature Stravinsky’s “Firebird Suite” and “The Rite of Spring,” LSO and BMW said at a news conference in an hotel overlooking the square.

The series “is the first international location of similar partnerships in Munich and Berlin,” said Ian Robertson, member of BMW’s board of management. “It was a logical extension to start this during 2012, a special year for us here in the U.K.”

BMW -- a sponsor of the 2012 London Olympic Games -- manufactures its three brands partially or wholly in the U.K.: BMW, Mini and Rolls-Royce, Robertson said. The U.K. is also the BMW group’s fourth-largest market.

Gergiev, who is the LSO’s principal conductor, said he hoped the partnership would draw young audiences.

“If classical music always hid behind the big walls of Carnegie Hall and the Barbican, I don’t think it would be the smartest solution,” he said. “People come to us regularly: sometimes we have to make an effort and go to them.”

No details were given on the value of the sponsorship.

BMW is also teaming with Tate Modern in London to commission art performances exclusively for live Web broadcast, the London-based gallery said last October.

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