Press Office

Wednesday 24 Sep 2014

Press Release

Light Fantastic – a nationwide festival of light music

BBC Radio 3 and BBC Performing Groups, in partnership with Southbank Centre and John Wilson as Artistic Advisor, present Light Fantastic

BBC Radio 3 and BBC Performing Groups, in partnership with Southbank Centre and John Wilson as Artistic Advisor, present Light Fantastic – a nationwide festival of light music bringing back into the limelight the beautifully crafted musical gems by a host of British creative talent.

The BBC's nationwide events culminate in a weekend as part of Southbank Centre's Festival of Britain celebrations, from 24-27 June. Light music, with its evocation of the British landscape, seaside holidays and tea dances, is an important part of our national musical history and culture and will be performed across the country in June through a series of specially-staged live concerts featuring the BBC Performing Groups.

There are also participatory events the public can get involved with and Radio 3's on-air coverage – leading up to a weekend of concerts and events, curated by Paul Morley, at Royal Festival and Queen Elizabeth Halls and across the site at Southbank Centre.

Expert interpreters of the genre will contribute to nationwide live events scheduled as part of this big celebration of light music.

Southbank Centre's Light Fantastic weekend will include a gala event with the BBC Symphony Orchestra and John Wilson at the Royal Festival Hall on 25 June. The previous evening, Gavin Sutherland joins Radio 3 and BBC Radio 2 to conduct the BBC Concert Orchestra, live from the Royal Festival Hall, for the first ever simultaneous broadcast on both Performance On 3 and Friday Night Is Music Night.

Elsewhere, live from Salford, the BBC Philharmonic explores light music's cultural heritage by recreating "Music while you Work" and the BBC Concert Orchestra presents a special seaside special concert in Plymouth on 26 June.

Repertoire throughout the Light Fantastic festival will shine a light on major orchestral works by the principal composers of the genre, including Eric Coates, Haydn Wood, Robert Farnon, Ernest Tomlinson, Ronald Binge and Samuel Coleridge-Taylor.

Light Music has always been of special importance to radio listeners and also thrives in the UK's vibrant amateur music scene. The BBC's Light Fantastic festival, in partnership with Making Music, invites amateur ensembles nationwide to get involved – some will be broadcast on Radio 3. Details are available on the Radio 3 website or via Making Music.

As part of Light Fantastic, Radio 3 Online has made several pieces available to download for free. Scores include an unpublished orchestral version of Holst's Songs Of The West, which is available for the first time, especially for this festival. The BBC Music Library is also making a wider selection of music available free to borrow from for the first time.

Radio 3 is organising more than 20 national events for Light Fantastic inviting people to listen to, or participate in, performing Light Music, from Radio 3's Discovering Music with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra to Radio 3 Listener's Requests, live from the BBC National Orchestra of Wales in Cardiff.

Amateur musicians are major performers of Light Music and Radio 3 has organised events around the country where some groups will have the opportunity to be professionally recorded and broadcast as part of Light Fantastic.

There will also be a chance for amateur singers to perform Gilbert & Sullivan with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, BBC Philharmonic and BBC Singers at special events in Glasgow and Manchester. Other Radio 3 highlights include a broadcast feature about the Scarborough Spa orchestra, playing Light Music since 1912 and still flourishing, and an edition of Music Matters with Petroc Trelawny investigating Light Music's history and reputation.

Roger Wright, Controller Radio 3 and Director BBC Proms, says: "British Light Music is a much-loved type of music and this festival is a great opportunity to celebrate and give a uniquely nostalgic feel to our broadcasting summer. It's also harnessing the unique resource of the BBC Performing Groups across the UK."

Jude Kelly, Artistic Director of Southbank Centre, says: "We are delighted to join Radio 3 for this nationwide celebration of Light Music. Light Fantastic will give us a chance to re-examine this unjustly forgotten genre and the important role it played within Britain's social fabric at the time of the 1951 Festival of Britain."

John Wilson, Artistic Advisor Light Fantastic, says: "What is Light Music? As the late Andrew Gold once said, Light music is music where the tune is more important than what you do with it. Composers such as Eric Coates, Haydn Wood, Edward German and Robert Farnon gave us a wealth of wonderful tunes, tunes with a capital T, and clothed them in the most dazzling orchestral colours.

"The Radio 3 Light Fantastic festival of light music celebrates these and other composers who are craftsmen in this much-loved genre."

Radio 3's Light Fantastic festival is in partnership with Radio 2, Southbank Centre, Making Music and the Light Music Society.


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