‘Our Classical Century’ to chart 100 years of greatest classical performances on BBC Four, with tie-ins across the BBC Proms, BBC Orchestras and BBC Radio 3
BBC Radio 3’s Essential Classics to produce companion programming of 100 moments
Radio 3 to broadcast programmes featuring learning concerts with the BBC Orchestras allied to Our Classical Century
BBC Young Musician Prom to feature past winners in 40th anniversary year
BBC Young Musician’s 40th anniversary grand final to be held at Symphony Hall Birmingham with City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra led by Mark Wigglesworth
Category and semi-finals of BBC Young Musician 2018 to take place at new Royal Birmingham Conservatoire
BBC Radio 3 announces concert and repertoire featuring premieres of works by female composers overlooked by history
BBC Proms Inspire Competition to mark 20 years with illustrious panel of composers

The BBC announced a raft of major new BBC classical music programmes in a day of BBC sessions at the Association of British Orchestra’s Conference, Cardiff on Friday 26th January. The conference this year was hosted by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales to mark their 90th anniversary in collaboration with Welsh National Opera and Sinfonia Cymru and saw a day of BBC hosted sessions looking at the conference theme of collaboration. The conference culminated in performances from BBC Young Musician winner 2014, Martin James Bartlett and 2016 Finalist and Woodwind Category Winner Jess Gillam, alongside a keynote speech from Alan Davey, Controller of BBC Radio 3, BBC Orchestras and Choirs and BBC Proms, about the Corporation’s commitment to classical music where he asked the industry to collaborate on music education and reaching new audiences;

Davey commented: “In the classical music industry we have to respond to changing times with new ideas and new ways of connecting with and engaging the public. Our aim will be to help people of all ages to begin a new relationship with classical music – or take their existing relationship even further – and make it a habit and passion for life.”

In the same speech, Davey also outlined that as part of Radio 3’s vision to expand the canon of classical music to be more representative, a special concert at LSO St Luke’s by the BBC Concert Orchestra will premiere works by female composers that in some cases have not been heard in over 100 years or have never before been performed. The works which are announced today, will commemorate International Women’s Day on Thursday 8 March and will be broadcast live on BBC Radio 3. It is part of a body of work the station is undertaking with the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

Earlier in the day Jan Younghusband, Head of BBC Music TV Commissioning, announced a major new landmark series, Our Classical Century, on behalf of Cassian Harrison, Controller BBC Four. The series will be broadcast in four parts across the year from Autumn 2018 and will survey key historic performances and highlights in the last 100 years of classical music. The series, which will be made by Lion Television, is one of the most ambitious single commissions for classical music, using resources across the BBC including the BBC Orchestras. It will also be accompanied by special BBC Radio 3 programming in Essential Classics made by BBC Radio 3 production, which will identify 100 of the most significant moments, events, and pieces of music from across the last century to be broadcast or staged throughout the year. The focus of Our Classical Century will end in the first night of the 2019 Proms, bringing the classical music story to the present day.

Commenting on the commission Jan Younghusband, Head of BBC Music TV Commissioning said: “This is a celebration of the great musical achievements in the UK over the last 100 years and the great artists who have thrilled audiences performing the great masterworks old and new.”

Cassian Harrison commented: “As the home of classical music on television, BBC Four is always looking for new ways to explore the genre, and to bring the very best artists and performances to our audiences. Our Classical Century will be an ambitious series of programmes working in collaboration with other parts of the BBC. It’s a perfect complement to our constant coverage, including talent initiatives such as BBC Young Musician, BBC Cardiff Singer of the World, Leeds International Piano Competition, documentaries and performances such as the Vienna New Year’s Day Concert, and, of course, the BBC Proms.”

Other announcements throughout the course of the day included: BBC Young Musician, run and produced by BBC Studios - Entertainment and Music Wales, will celebrate its 40th anniversary this year with a BBC Prom in the 2018 festival. BBC Four will also present a special documentary, tracking the experiences of recent finalists and winners following their success in the competition, with contributions from cellists Sheku Kanneh-Mason and Natalie Clein, pianist Martin James Bartlett, saxophonist Jess Gillam and the competition’s ambassador - violinist Nicola Benedetti.

This year’s final of BBC Young Musician was unveiled as being held at Symphony Hall Birmingham, led by the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Mark Wigglesworth. The Category and Semi-Finals will take place at the new Royal Birmingham Conservatoire. The competition will be broadcast on BBC television and BBC Radio 3.The 25 young musicians who make up the 2018 Category Finalists - across Strings, Woodwind, Percussion, Brass and Keyboard - have been announced today.

And finally, Alan Davey announced the 20th anniversary of the BBC Proms Inspire Composers Competition which opened for entries today. The competition gives composers the unrivalled opportunity to have their compositions performed at the BBC Proms, broadcast on BBC Radio 3, as well as a coveted BBC commission. Previous winners include celebrated composer, Mark Simpson, and this year’s illustrious judging panel includes Sally Beamish, Dobrinka Tabakova, Anna Meredith and Kerry Andrew.


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