BBC NOW celebrates its birthday week from 9 – 15 April with the nation on air, online and in concert with a host of music, memories and festivities
Live streamed concert 90 years to the day on Thursday 12 April looking back over BBC NOW’s history and seminal moments
A week of Afternoon Concerts on BBC Radio 3 survey landmark performances across the past nine decades from Monday 9 – Friday 13 April
BBC National Chorus of Wales features on BBC Radio 4’s Sunday Worship on 15 April recorded at BBC Hoddinott Hall
BBC NOW delivers ‘Musical Telegrams’ to people celebrating their 90th birthdays in care homes across Wales

For 90 years, BBC NOW has played an integral role in the cultural and classical landscape of Wales, performing to audiences across the UK, abroad and on air. The Orchestra celebrates its birthday week from 9 – 15 April on air, online and in concert with a host of music, memories and festivities.

BBC NOW: 90 Years of Music
Live streamed concert on Thursday 12 April, 7.30pm at BBC Hoddinott Hall
BBC National Orchestra of Wales gave its first performance on Thursday 12 April 1928, in the Assembly Rooms in City Hall, Cardiff. As the Radio Times announced that year, this was ‘A New Orchestra for Wales… appointed no longer as merely a studio orchestra, but brought into being expressly to function both nationally and civically’. 90 years to the day from its first concert, BBC NOW takes a look back over its journey. In a live streamed concert conducted by Grant Llewellyn, the Orchestra will re-live some of its earliest performances and notable moments across its history including:
Music from Wagner, which was performed by BBC NOW in its opening concert (1928) and Men of Harlech from the orchestra’s first Eisteddfod appearance (1930).
A celebration of artists the orchestra has worked with including Elgar (1930) and Walton (1961) who both visited as guest conductors; as well as music from one of its earliest major premieres written by Grace Williams (1947).
Looking back at the start of BBC NOW’s touring activity in the 1980s with music by Tchaikovsky whose works were performed on their first Canadian tour (1983).
BBC NOW as the Doctor Who house band: in 2005 BBC NOW began recording the Doctor Who soundtrack and performs the theme tune by Grainger/Gold arr. Ben Foster.
Handel’s Zadok the Priest: BBC’s Ten Pieces project launched in 2012 and BBC NOW recorded the first film, seen by over 120,000 children across the UK.

Michael Garvey, Director, BBC National Orchestra of Wales says: “This is the first in a series of digital events that we are excited to be planning, throwing open the doors of our home in BBC Hoddinott Hall to a new virtual audience. For our 90th we’ve selected some iconic pieces of orchestral music from past performances, combined them with archive footage and anecdotes from our friends, to create a whistle-stop journey through the 90 years. We’re excited to be harnessing digital technology to bring orchestral music to as many people as possible, and our birthday is a great opportunity to do just that as we invite the nation to celebrate with us!”
This concert is being live streamed on and will be available to watch again for 30 days thereafter.

BBC NOW at 90: Afternoon Concert
BBC Radio 3 Afternoon Concerts: Monday 9 – Friday 13 April
On air, a special week of Afternoon Concerts will mark the 90th birthday of the BBC National Orchestra of Wales on BBC Radio 3. From the band’s beginnings in 1928, to its current position as Wales’ National Symphony Orchestra, programmes will survey landmark performances across the past nine decades – including an early performance from the BBC’s then newly built broadcasting studios in Cardiff, its three decade-long partnership with Conductor Laureate Tadaaki Otaka and the adventurous tour to the recently reunified Germany. Programmes will also explore the role the orchestra plays showcasing the work of Welsh composers and some of the key artistic relationships from across the years.
On Friday 13 April Nicola Heywood Thomas presents a live Afternoon Concert from BBC Hoddinott Hall at 2pm, which looks back at artists and composers that have played significant roles in BBC NOW’s development. Celebrating its distinctive role as both a broadcast and national orchestra of Wales, the programme includes music by Bruch and Mozart, who featured in BBC NOW’s very first concert, and Welsh composers Huw Watkins and Mathias. The orchestra are joined by conductor Grant Llewellyn, current BBC New Generation Artist Eivind Holtsmark Ringstad (viola), and former member of the scheme Annelien Van Wauwe (clarinet) alongside Welsh pianist Llŷr Williams.

On air with BBC Radio Cymru – 9-13 April
Every morning on BBC Radio Cymru the Bore Cothi show takes a look at BBC NOW’s history, from the early studios it worked in, to its long and fruitful relationships with some of Wales’ most celebrated composers, Alun Hoddinott and Grace Williams. They’ll hear from contemporary composers Guto Puw, Mared Emlyn, Gareth Glynand talk to current members of BBC NOW about their work as part of the National Orchestra of Wales. Tune in for the Welsh language broadcast of BBC NOW: 90 Years of Music live on BBC Radio Cymru on Thursday 12 April.

BBC Radio Wales Arts Show: Friday 13 April, 6.30pm
The Radio Wales Arts Show with Nicola Heywood Thomas takes a closer look at the BBC National Orchestra of Wales as it celebrates a musical milestone; it’s 90th birthday. The programme will feature music from across the years, alongside interviews with musicians and members of the administration team.

Sunday Worship BBC Radio 4: Sunday 15 April
On BBC Radio 4’s Sunday Worship on the third Sunday of Easter (15 April) Beverley Humphreys reflects on the need to continue growing in a sense of Resurrection and renewal. Focussing on the role of breath and breathing which underpins all human life, she is joined in BBC Hoddinott Hall, Cardiff, to mark BBC NOW’s 90th birthday, by the Rev. Peter Noble, the BBC National Chorus of Wales, its Artistic Director Adrian Partington, organist Jonathan Hope and members of the BBC NOW. The Director of the BBC NOW Michael Garvey reads Psalm 150 and past and present members of the orchestra’s Christian fellowship add accompaniment – Ania Leadbeater, Paul Mann, David Haim and Dominic Jewel. Music includes 'Let all the world in every corner sing' (Vaughan Williams); Holy Holy Holy (Hoddinott) and For the Beauty of the Earth (Rutter).

Musical Telegrams
BBC NOW delivers ‘Musical Telegrams’ to people celebrating their 90th birthdays across Wales in 2018. Musicians from the Orchestra will perform especially for people in three care homes across BBC NOW’s birthday week, to celebrate the combined 90 year milestones with residents and their friends and families.

Dan Trodden, Principal Tuba - BBC National Orchestra of Wales says: “It’s a privilege to share our craft with people who perhaps aren’t able to travel to see the BBC National Orchestra of Wales in the concert hall, and what an honour to share our 90th birthday with them too!”


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