Changes afoot at BBC Radio 3

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Below find the text of a recent email sent from the BBC Controller regarding the upcoming changes to BBC Radio 3’s format and programming.

I guess it had to happen – it was too good to be true.  There are MUCH fewer programs (Stage and Screen and Voices are both GONE as are a number of others…) 

Ilya Repin's paiting of the duel scene from Eugene Onegin - photo credit AKG images

And it seems now that the Tchaikovsky/Stravinsky Experience running this week is their buffer between the old and the new.

Well at least they are keeping the Wigmore Hall concerts and other live broadcasts – Its STILL MUCH better than ANYTHING in the USA. 

So I for one will keep listening.  (Listening to one of the first T/S programs right now–there are tidbits sprinkled through out the music – Stravinsky just talked about seeing Tchaikovsky at the Opera and three days later he was dead!

So here is the letter – emphasis is mine.

I am writing an extra message to you this month, since our new schedule (described recently as a ‘spring clean’) begins this weekend. It’s the first time in five years we have made significant changes to our programming. All radio stations change their programming from time to time, adapting to changing tastes and developing ideas. If Radio 3 hadn’t changed since its first day in 1967 we would still be broadcasting sailing, swimming and football in addition to speech and music! We wanted to respond to specific listener comments in revising the schedule on this occasion – not least the view that there should be more classical music in the late evening and that the Composer of the Week repeat should be earlier.

We also wanted to build room for sixty hours (Weekdays, 4-5 pm in the summer) devoted to the history of western classical music, in collaboration with Radio 4. More news on this nearer the time.

At the same time, our interactive colleagues are overhauling the website (in common with other BBC stations). It will be good to have your responses to the site once you have had time to explore, and do look out on the message board for references to external sites featuring discussion about Radio 3

We are looking forward to the arrival of our new programmes – and not least to having Rob Cowan as our breakfast show presenter (along with Sara Mohr-Pietsch who now joins Martin Handley as the third morning presenter). We are also welcoming Iain Burnside to his new slot on Sunday mornings. Try and catch his occasional ‘Music 101’ moments when we hope to encourage strong debate by playing classical music which some distinguished guests would gladly consign to oblivion!

We hope you enjoy our new sequence of classical music (Monday-Thursday 10.30 pm) beginning with programmes featuring the remarkable pianist Angela Hewitt. There has been great interest in our new non-presented programme of words and music at 10.15 on Sunday evening; it is thrilling to have Derek Jacobi and Juliet Stevenson launch it.

Listen out also for the first four programmes in ‘The Essay’ for different views of Auden in his centenary year.

We welcome back Alyn Shipton to a regular slot in the new programme Jazz Library on Friday evenings – a response to those seeking a jazz equivalent to CD Review’s popular Building a Library.

The amount of specially recorded live music increases in our new schedule. So I’m particularly pleased that the afternoons presented by Penny Gore, Louise Fryer and Fiona Talkington bring a greater breadth of music to listeners. We will range from recitals to operas, so look forward to an exciting spring ahead with performances by the New York Philharmonic; the Berlin Philharmonic (including Mark Elder conducting  Hansel and Gretel . Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra; San Francisco Symphony Orchestra; Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra; Abbado and the Lucerne Festival Orchestra and opera afternoons including Opera North’s Peter Grimes, Les Troyens from Paris, Gergiev conducting Shostakovich’s The Nose and that ‘Alagna Aida’ from La Scala!

Finally, talking of Britten and opera… I hope you enjoy our new ten-part series (Sunday 3 pm), Performing Britten, which will examine each of his operas and their performing traditions with interviews with the interpreters most closely associated with the roles in the operas. I trust you will find much to enjoy.

All best wishes
Roger Wright
Controller, BBC Radio 3  

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