Wednesday 6 June 2018

Bye-bye Maida Vale

Mock-up of the BBC Stratford building
Mock-up of the BBC Stratford building
So the BBC is planning to move out of the Maida Vale Studios and into a custom-built music hub in East London. The Maida Vale Studios, a former skating rink converted to studios in the 1930s, is one of the BBC's oldest buildings and there are lots of strands of musical history involved in it from popular to classical and beyond.

The new site promises a state of the art music recording and rehearsal studios and will provide a purpose-built base for the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Chorus and the BBC Singers, as well as being used regularly by the BBC Concert Orchestra, and will enable the BBC to record and broadcast more live music than before. As ever with new projects like this, there is an education element too. In East London, the BBC will run music sessions in local schools and connect with music hubs, as well as making digital music resources available to schools everywhere. The BBC will also partner with local education groups on other music projects, and there is a promise to have a significant impact on music in the area.

It is not just classical that will be moving of course, BBC Radio 1, 1Xtra, Asian Network, Radio 2, Radio 3, 6 Music and BBC Introducing will all curate and broadcast performances regularly from the site.

All very brand new, exciting and shiny, but part of me feels sad at bidding good-bye to so much history at Maida Vale even though it is, evidently, riddled with asbestos which makes any upgrade a rather costly procedure. I have never recorded in the Maida Vale, my main memories of it are rehearsing in studio one when I sang with the London Philharmonic Choir (and the rather good canteen at the time, this was the 1980s), but I returned a few times to do interviews. I wonder what is going to happen to the old building, it would be sad if it disappeared.

The new facilities are promised for 2022/23, so a little way ahead.
More information from the BBC website.

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