Friday 3 April 2020

BBC Radio 3's Culture in Quarantine

As a result of the current restrictions, the BBC has had to re-think its content. Many of us are coming to rely on BBC Radio 3 for its content, the BBC has introduced some interesting innovations as part of an on-going response to the challenges presented.

When Max Richter's Sleep was first broadcast in Radio 3 it broke two Guiness World Records, for the longest broadcast of a single piece of music, and the longest live broadcast of a single piece of music. The work is being re-broadcast from 11pm on Saturday 11 April to 7am on Sunday 12 April, as part of Slow & Mindful, a new night-time slot in the period running up to Easter which will include music from the monks of Downside, Belmont and Pluscarden Abbeys.

BBC Radio 3's 'drive time' slot, In Tune has had to re-invent itself, with performers introducing music via the phone and featuring Home Sessions, music recorded at home. In addition, Postcards from Composers will feature music from leading British Composers who have been invited to write sonic postcards of hope for audiences at home. The short pieces, for solo instruments, will be specially commissioned and will run throughout the schedule.

With live concerts being cancelled, Radio 3 is replacing its live coverage with recordings from the archives, but to support groups whose appearances have been cancelled, they are being invited to pick a repeat of an earlier broadcast which will enable musicians to get valuable income which accrues from broadcasts. Highlights include the London Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Edward Gardner in Elgar’s the Dream of Gerontius with mezzo-soprano Christine Rice and tenor Paul Groves among the soloists (14/04/2020 – as originally transmitted in March 2011); the Berlin Philharmonic and Sir Simon Rattle in Bach’s St Matthew Passion as part of the 2014 Proms, with soloists including baritone Christian Gerhaher, mezzo-soprano Magdalena Kožená, and tenor Mark Padmore (10/04/2020 – as originally broadcast on 6 September 2014, see my review) as well as highlights from Rattle’s opening season as Music Director of the London Symphony Orchestra, the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain with Vasily Petrenko presenting a programme of Vaughan Williams, Turnage, and Beethoven with soloists including soprano Ailish Tynan, tenor Toby Spence, and baritone Gerald Finley (16/04/2020 – as originally broadcast in August 2013).

The season is part of a wider BBC Arts, Culture in Quarantine. More details from the BBC website.

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