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Edward Blakeman Edward Blakeman | 11:29 UK Time, Thursday, 17 February 2011


Photo of Radio 3 presenter's table at Cadogan Hall


BBC Radio 3 has just announced that its rich schedule of concerts, operas and recitals will be further enhanced from May 3, 2011 when listeners will be able to hear LIVE broadcasts direct from venues across the UK every weekday evening in Performance on 3. Here, Radio 3 Editor Edward Blakeman offers a look behind the scenes. 

I just love the prospect of live evening concerts on Radio 3!  My colleagues and I have thought about it and planned it for months - since the end of last season's Proms in fact, and that was what gave us the idea.  There is such a buzz during the Proms - 8 weeks of concerts all broadcast live on Radio 3 - so wouldn't it be great if you could carry that sense of really 'being there' on into the rest of the year? if you could offer Radio 3 listeners a live concert each weekday night - something that had never been done before.

This would be massive of course. Just think of the challenges involved in terms of people (producers and presenters) and technical resources (outside broadcast vans and equipment) to deliver live to air, night after night, a huge range of music making at venues large and small across the UK. But surely it would be worth it - to link up the UK's vibrant live music community of orchestras, choirs, chamber groups, and soloists, and connect audiences in the halls with those on air. We already know that radio audiences are increasing for our specially recorded evening concerts, so wouldn't listening live be even more invigorating?

So that was the challenge we set ourselves: to be live on Monday to Friday for Performance on 3, at concerts around the UK, most weeks of the year. But would that be possible?  Would there be enough concerts?  What about date clashes, when several events are happening at the same time, or the opposite of date clashes those nights when nothing is happening? The only thing to do was to find out.

After the Proms were over, I sat down with our evening concert plans for January to March and - rather like remaking a big jigsaw - moved all the pieces around to see what would happen if they were all broadcast live. Well the picture certainly came out differently - there were some clashes and there were some gaps, but there were also a lot of other good concerts on offer to fill those gaps.

When I did the jigsaw for a second time, looking at May to July, the picture was similar. So it seemed as though we might just be able to make it happen - and at that point we decided to go for it. After all, only Radio 3 could ever hope to make this work. We are fortunate to be able to invest so richly in supporting music making around the UK and so we are seizing the moment to really fly the flag for Live Music. From 3 May onwards, for at least 46 weeks of the year there will be a live evening concert each weekday evening on Radio 3. A big broadcasting adventure is poised to begin - and it's unique!

Edward Blakeman is an Editor at  BBC Radio 3


  • Comment number 1.

    Well, this is what Radio 3 listeners have been telling you for ages! So, well done, for listening!

    One question: will the concert start time return to 7.30pm?

  • Comment number 2.

    ff, I would not be at all surprised to see the concert broadcasts vary in their start time. Remember, Radio 3's heritage is the Third Programme, where regular time-slots were all but unknown. Many concerts tend to start at 7.30 pm, that's true, but not at the QEH or RFH, for instance, so while Performance on 3 (if such a name is retained) may start at, say 7.30pm, with fill-ins prior to the concert itself. Whatever, I am sure it will all be done in the best possible taste, and without U-turns, only 'voltes-face'.

  • Comment number 3.

    How is it 'new' and 'exciting' as it would appear it is a return to the status ante the 'listen up' changes that wrecked the evening performances, which live broadcasts had been a feature for many many years of R3 before the current management altered it. All the technical problems were surely ironed out over the 30+ years experience before somebody thought it was a better approach to employ DJ's jiggling tapes in BH. I presume we will now get an interval talk again just like the old days - maybe even a return to a 7.30pm start as well.

  • Comment number 4.

    Thank you so very much - this was long overdue as I am sure you realized. I am greatly looking forward to listening!

  • Comment number 5.

    Does this mean a change to the Radio 3 schedule and all concerts begin at 7.30pm? 7pm can be an inconvenient start time.

  • Comment number 6.

    Petroc Trelawny told the audience at the Bridgewater Hall tonight that a side effect of the live concerts was that they would begin at 7:30. There was much cheering and stamping of feet in the stalls!

  • Comment number 7.

    Excellent idea. Now perhaps we can stop this nonsense of beginning evening concerts at 7.00 pm.

  • Comment number 8.

    Is there any way to listen to the Radio 3 version of Black Watch, the National Theatre of Scotland's play aired on 10 June 2007? I just saw the play during it's American tour and was stunned. I served in the US Infantry in Vietnam nearly a half century ago, and my godson was a Marine Platoon Commander in Iraq a few years ago. The emotions and experiences depicted in the play resonate with both of us.

  • Comment number 9.

    Superb news

  • Comment number 10.

    Pity there wasn't a blog running when it was decided to scrap the daily live concert a few year ago.

  • Comment number 11.

    This is the best news from R3 for many years. I concur entirely with the comment by frances_iom. I can now once again eat my meal, listen to The Archers and be in my seat in the venue for the start of the concert at 7.30. Well done Roger Wright. But don't be too self congratulatory; you have only reinvented the wheel.

  • Comment number 12.

    I consider myself to have been out of the loop for many years now,so apologies if this is all old hat.I have recently discovered the Berlin Philharmonic's digital concert hall.Via a sony blu ray disc player,panasonic plasma HD and usual sort of hi-fi and broadband ( I am not trying to sell anything)...the quality of everything seems exceptional,and good value for money.Has evryone known about this for years (since Aug2008)? Isn't it all a real competitor,for the proms at least? Isn't it time the Beeb invested in the technology,in combination with some orchestras,or the Barbican....as the buzzy i-player just doesn't hack it?

  • Comment number 13.


    >>Has evryone known about this for years (since Aug2008)?

    People are discussing it here on the Radio 3 Forum http://www.for3.org/forums/showthread.php?1128-The-Digital-Concert-Hall


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