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All over the airwaves with the BBC Philharmonic

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Richard Wigley Richard Wigley | 16:06 UK Time, Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Graphic of BBC Philharmonic Presents


Who’d have thought that a bit of an idea that popped into my head on a run to work would grow into this thrilling series of events to open the new BBC Philharmonic Studio in Salford Quays?  I’d been talking to my friend Rhian Roberts at Radio 5 Live about collaborating on a live film music show with Simon Mayo and Mark Kermode when it occurred to me that appearing live on all the national radio networks would be the perfect way to open at MediaCity in Salford.  From that day it’s been a helter-skelter of ideas (good and bad) and rushes of enthusiasm from everywhere in BBC Audio and Music Division and in Project North.  Ultimately it led to director-general Mark Thompson’s announcement of the BBC Philharmonic Presents…. Festival during his recent visit to Salford.

I’m reminded of the energy that surrounded the Beethoven week on Radio 3; when a strong idea attracts everyone within range to contribute their best thinking and to release resources to make it bigger and better and more beautiful.  Involving many colleagues from across the networks, this has been an amazing journey; and we haven’t played a note yet!  I feel that I’ve set an impossible challenge for the Philharmonic management team and orchestra, but in the confidence that this is a spur for them to go beyond all reasonable expectations …what a lucky boy I am that the staff are without limits.

So, what are we doing?  Full details are on the website - just follow this link. Every show is a highlight and it all begins with the orchestra’s principal conductor prior to Gianandrea Noseda, Yan Pascal Tortelier, conducting a live In Tune for Radio 3 on June 1st.  Pascal will be able to relate his experiences of Studio 7 in Oxford Road and the new acoustics in Salford.  Then Radio 2 are with us for Friday Night is Music Night featuring the leading men of the West End (Friday 3rd June).  Sunday Worship will test the orchestra’s alarm clocks on Sunday morning (5th June) and then Nero’s Dubstep Symphony is live on the Zane Lowe Show for Radio 1 (Monday 6th June). 

We open our doors for 750 children on Tuesday 7th June and then a centrepiece for the whole festival, the Mayo and Kermode Film Review show live on Radio 5 Live (Friday 10th June).  Mark and Simon will ‘DJ’ the orchestra in some favourite bits from films and in the evening you can hear Mark present longer versions on Radio 3’s Live in Concert.  Both of these events will be available on the Red Button.

We’ll record Steve Mackey’s Dreamhouse on Saturday 11th June for broadcast on 6 Music’s Freakzone the following evening.  Steve is Professor of Composition at Princeton University, but has a not so secret life as a prog rock guitarist. 

Radio 3 then take over for two events with the Academy of Ancient Music (Sunday 12th June and Monday 13th June) and the RNCM join the Phil on Wednesday 15th June to celebrate the music of Christopher Rouse.

The gritty stories of firemen, ordinary people and bin men provide the narrative for the sung drama Salford Tales that is live on Radio Manchester on Thursday 16th June.  The final showstopper is a Live in Concert on Radio 3 on Friday 17th June; Juanjo Mena, the Phil’s new Chief Conductor, leads a programme of ‘local’ composers (Maxwell Davies and William Walton) and the music influenced by his Spanish homeland (de Falla and Ravel) in the ‘ribbon cutter’ concert.  As if this wasn’t enough for one orchestra….they go straight into the studio the next day to record the first commercial disc that features the music of de Falla for Chandos Records.

Richard Wigley is General Manager of the BBC Philharmonic

Full details of the events can be found be clicking this link.




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