One of the great joys of working in radio at the BBC is the simplicity that drives so much of its programming. Picture this: I walk into Jeff Smith’s office (Head of Music, Radio 2) to discuss the BBC Philharmonic Presents… festival, he lists a dozen big time artists, I like the suggestion of the Pet Shop Boys (not least as they came to our Radio 1 collaboration with Nero for last year’s festival), and a few weeks later it’s settled.

BBC Philharmonic Presents...Pet Shop Boys

Of course, the complexity then begins as the teams at the Philharmonic and Radio 2 dovetail to connect the spiderweb of detail that builds the concept into a concert.

BBC Philharmonic Presents… is a radio festival that places the orchestra on all the national BBC networks where we deliver the full power and emotion of the 90 orchestra musicians for the full gamut of audiences.  So far we’ve collaborated with Richard Hawley, The xx, Kermode and Mayo’s Film Review (for a James Bond Special), the Guy Barker Big Band playing Miles Davis, QB for the Asian Network and, later this month, The Listening Project for Radio 4. From Bridlington to Blackpool with Bradford in between, and in Sheffield and Salford, we’ve cut a swathe across the north of England with thrilling live and unique shows.

In Concert, from the orchestra's perspective

The usual ‘day’ job for the BBC Philharmonic comprises 75 broadcast concerts and recordings for Radio 3.  The orchestra creates the broadcasts from a full schedule including its annual concert season in Manchester’s Bridgewater Hall; international tours twice a year (including a return to Japan in 2013 to complete our 2011 tour that was cut short by the earthquake); concerts across the north of England, in our studio and at regular BBC Proms appearances. 

Neil Tennant

The eight BBC Philharmonic Presents… shows provide a welcome change of style for the musicians, with the expectation of plenty of flexibility, as well as new ways of working for the orchestra’s team as a whole. And meeting Pet Shop Boys to put the finishing touches on the show provided me with a delightful moment; Neil Tennant offering to make a cup of tea. 

With nearly 25,000 applications for tickets there is the highest of expectations; no problems, we’ll meet it.

Richard Wigley is General Manager, BBC Philharmonic

The Pet Shop Boys concert with the BBC Philharmonic was broadcast on BBC Radio 2 on Thursday 6 December 2012. It's now available via the BBC iPlayer.

More pictures of the event can be found on the BBC Philharmonic Facebook page.


More Posts