Date: 18.02.2013Last updated: 18.02.2013 at 17.02

Category: Radio 3

BBC Radio 3 to reflect Red Nose Day with a 12-hour Baroque music marathon as part of month-long Baroque Spring season.

  • Top of the Baroque: BBC Radio 3 presenters battle it out to persuade listeners to support their favourite Baroque work
  • Beastly Baroque: Simon Russell Beale stars in five hilarious sketches, bringing the Baroque to life from Monday 11 March
  • Dance Baroque: BBC Radio 3 puts the swing into the 18th century with a live concert from York University

BBC Radio 3, the home of classical music, will put its full classical prowess behind Red Nose Day in March 2013 as part of its month-long Baroque Spring season. A week of special Red Nose Day Baroque programming will culminate on Friday 15 March as BBC Radio 3 will Baroque-around-the-clock with 12 hours of Baroque-themed live music, sketches and comedy.

From Monday 11 March BBC Radio 3 presenters Suzy Klein, Sara Mohr-Pietsch, Jez Nelson, Tom Service and Sarah Walker will compete against each other for Top of the Baroque, battling it out to convince listeners to support their choice of Baroque work*. The presenters will pitch in Radio 3 Breakfast and each day before the main challenge takes place throughout Friday 15 March on Red Nose Day. The results will be revealed in a special Red Nose Day edition of In Tune, broadcast live from the Media Café in New Broadcasting House and featuring a performance of Bach’s popular Coffee Cantata. The story, about a worried father’s attempts to get his daughter to give up coffee, will be retold by John Crace of The Guardian’s Digested Read and performed by specialist students from the Royal Academy of Music.

Actor Simon Russell Beale leads a hand-picked cast of established comedy performers in Beastly Baroque, a series of humorous and informative sketches bringing to life five great composers from the Baroque era, from Bach’s terrible temper to Lully’s accidental comeuppance; Monteverdi’s development of the Baroque style to Handel’s struggle with prima donna singers; and the versatile and hard-working Purcell. The sketches run every day on In Tune from Monday 11 March before all five will be broadcast on Friday 15 March.

A host of celebrities will put the swing back into the 18th century with Dance Baroque for Comic Relief, a live concert from Lyons Concert Hall at the University of York on Friday 15 March. Our celebrities - including ex-footballer and 5 live pundit Pat Nevin - will learn the steps to a late-17th-century dance, and try out their new-found skills in front of a live audience, with music by Purcell played by the University of York Baroque Orchestra and Chamber Choir, under the guidance of Peter Seymour. The concert will be broadcast live on BBC Radio 3 at 1pm, presented by Lucie Skeaping and Adam Tomlinson.

Elsewhere throughout the day, Radio 3’s Breakfast will take Baroque requests, while Essential Classics will challenge listeners with Baroque-themed brainteasers. Katie Derham will present Afternoon on 3 on Friday 15 March, including Baroque On Call, a project which sees the BBC Concert Orchestra performing Baroque repertoire at the Open Door Project in Milton Keynes, a homeless shelter supported by Comic Relief. She will also introduce live Baroque comic turns from the BBC National Orchestra of Wales in Misheard Lyrics, live from Bangor featuring Baroque arias as you have never heard them before, while harpsichordist and former Radio 3 New Generation Artist Mahan Esfahani will take requests for live baroque improvisations.

Radio 3’s Comic Relief programming will form part of a wider Radio 3 season, Baroque Spring, which will feature further concerts, speech and comedy from 3 March to 1 April. The season of programming on BBC Radio 3 will shed new light on one of the most significant periods of music, when the likes of Purcell, Handel, Vivaldi and Bach, among others, composed some of the best-loved pieces of classical music.

Roger Wright, Controller of BBC Radio 3 and Director of BBC Proms, says: "I am delighted that BBC Radio 3 is once again supporting Red Nose Day in 2013, with a wide variety of entertaining programmes. It’s great to have such important figures as Simon Russell Beale again bringing their talent to the station for such a great cause. I hope our listeners will enjoy the music and entertainment, as well as the many opportunities to get involved."

Notes to editors

Red Nose Day on Radio 3 – Friday 15 March

  • 0700-0900 Breakfast: Top of the Baroque presenter challenge and Baroque listener requests
  • 0900-1200 Essential Classics: Spot the spoof Baroque composer and other brainteasers
  • 1200-1300 Composer of the Week: Henry Purcell
  • 1400-1600 Afternoon on 3: Top of the Baroque presenter challenge continues plus music from the BBC Concert Orchestra and the BBC National Orchestra of Wales
  • 1630-1830 In Tune: live from the Media Café at New Broadcasting House. Includes Bach’s Coffee Cantata and results of Top of the Baroque presenter challenge.
  • 1715: lines close for Top of the Baroque.
  • 1815: Sean announces the presenter who has won the Top Of The Baroque

*Top of the Baroque Presenter Challenge works:

  • Suzy Klein – Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus
  • Sara Mohr-Pietsch – Pachelbel’s Canon
  • Jez Nelson –Aria from the Goldberg Variations by Bach
  • Sarah Walker - Dido’s Lament by Purcell
  • Tom Service - Les Barricades Mysterieueses by Couperin

Red Nose Day

  • Red Nose Day 2013 is heading your way on Friday 15 March, when the great British public will once again be asked to Do Something Funny for Money
  • Raising cash this Red Nose Day can help to change lives forever. That’s because Comic Relief spends the money raised to help change the lives of poor, vulnerable and disadvantaged people across the UK and Africa
  • Comic Relief was launched on Christmas Day in 1985, live on BBC One. At that time, a devastating famine was crippling Ethiopia and something had to be done. That something was Comic Relief. The idea was simple – Comic Relief would make the public laugh while they raised money to help people in desperate need. Before too long, Red Nose Day was created and the first ever event in 1988 raised a staggering £15m
  • This year, 2013, marks the 25th anniversary of Red Nose Day which has raised over £600m and helped to change lives both in the UK and Africa
  • Comic Relief, registered charity 326568 (England/Wales); SC039730 (Scotland)


It’s great to have such important figures as Simon Russell Beale again bringing their talent to the station for such a great cause. I hope our listeners will enjoy the music and entertainment, as well as the many opportunities to get involved."

Roger Wright, Controller, BBC Radio 3 and Director, BBC Proms

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