Archives for July 2012

Radio 3 in the sun at WOMAD 2012 - day 2

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Melanie Fryer Melanie Fryer | 19:41 UK time, Saturday, 28 July 2012


She'Keymorovou on the Radio 3 stage at WOMAD 2012

She'Keymorovou on the Radio 3 stage at WOMAD 2012

Saturday at WOMAD 2012 and the Radio 3 stage has been alive with music to get world music lovers in the festival mood. An energentic Chrissy Cowley gave both festival goers and those listening at home a Celtic treat on the fiddle to start us off for the day. Later this afternoon She'Koyokh got the crowd dancing (including those of us backstage) with their combination of klezma and Balkan music. We are now enjoying the fantastic Breabach as the evening sets in.

On the rest of the site the Radio 3 team have been talking to the cream of the world music scene including Femi Kuti. Tune in from 10.30pm tonight to hear highlights of these interviews, excerpts from some of the performances and to catch Abdallah Oumbadougou with his fantastic Saharan blues.


Femi Kuti on the Open Air stage at WOMAD 2012

Femi Kuti on the Open Air stage at WOMAD 2012


Melanie Fryer, Events Coordinator Radio 3 and the Proms


Listen live on Radio 3

Find out more about WOMAD here

The 2012 Proms on TV, part two

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Jan Younghusband Jan Younghusband | 17:24 UK time, Friday, 27 July 2012

As I write this I am waiting for Martin Creed's Bells to ring out over the country. And I am wondering how Danny Boyle is feeling this morning. For everyone who puts on events, there is always this moment just before, the quiet moment, when the stage is empty, just waiting for everything to begin. The moment when you think to yourself, goodness, will it all be okay! And you feel sick with anxiety! It's something you always think you will get better at but that feeling is always there, as intense as ever. But tonight is a whopping great big event like no other! So I can't imagine how everyone's feelng today, so I want to start by sending huge good vibes to Danny Boyle and wish him and his team all the very best of luck for the opening ceremony tonight. When it's all over Danny, please come to the Proms and chill out with us okay!

The other big event tonight for us is Daniel Barenboim and the West Eastern Divan orchestra performing their last concert in the Beethoven series at the Proms at 6.30pm. It's live on Radio 3 this evening and broadcast on BBC Two tomorrow night, together with a new documentary Barenboim on Beethoven, with the maestro himself, and the orchestral musicians and Tom Service talking us through the symphonies and why they are so special. The other concerts are on the iPlayer if you need to catch up. From the reaction in the hall this week, I think the audience won't let them leave tonight. You want to lock the doors and make them just keep on playing. The music-making is incredible, the precision of the playing out of this world, the interpretation of the music, just so powerful and moving. I do recommend you catch up with these performances on iPlayer.

Talking of chilling out at the Proms, the other night I want up to the gallery in the Royal Albert Hall. Great view from there, the hall looks so beautiful with the new lighting and stage design. The great thing to do up there is just lie flat out on the floor and let the music wash over you. It's a great place to be for the Proms.

I am now totally maxed out on my 3G on my iphone and turning to my lovely old radio at home, so next week in the evenings I will be on the sun (hopefully) lounger finally in my garden with the Radio on extension cable listening to Bach's B Minor Mass (Aug 2nd 7.30pm) and the Scottish Symphony doing Wagner and Bruckner. On TV we have Bach Live too on Thursday, Wagner live Friday and Handel's Water Music on BBC Two on Saturday night. God Bless technology.

The first time I heard Wagner's music live was years ago when I was working with Sir Peter Hall when he directed the Ring in Bayreuth with Sir Georg Solti. One of the many moments in my life when the privilege of working in music has been overwhelming. The English Ring was controversial and likely to be shot down. Bill Dudley the designer turned to Peter as they edged forward and took their curtain call expecting to be murdered by the audience - a general rule with The Ring cycle was: shot down first year, liked a little bit in second year, and third year hailed as the greatest Ring ever - and he whispered "it's only rock and roll".

Good luck to Danny Boyle and wishing you all a glorious Olympic opening weekend!

Jan Younghusband is BBC commissioning editor, Music & Events

Radio 3 Live at WOMAD 2012

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Melanie Fryer Melanie Fryer | 14:31 UK time, Friday, 27 July 2012


Photo of Radio 3 Live at WOMAD


Radio 3 Live at WOMAD 2012 has kicked off with traditional music trio Genticorum all the way from Quebec and Arthur Jeffes' Sundog. After days of setting up in the sun we have a wonderful new stage for this year for our musicians to entertain the crowds.

Listen on Radio 3 from 11pm with Seth Lakeman performing live on stage along with highlights from Hugh Masekela and Jimmy Cliff.

We have a fantastic line-up this weekend including Chrissy Cowley and our World Routes Academy protegé José Hernando with Angelica Lopez. Listen out for more music treats from WOMAD including Femi Kuti and Khaled tomorrow night, and Buena Vista Social Club and Robert Plant coming up on Sunday.

Melanie Fryer, Event Co-ordinator, Radio 3 & the Proms


Click here to listen to Radio 3 and find out more

Click here for more information on WOMAD



Introducing Free Thinking 2012

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Tim Prosser Tim Prosser | 17:00 UK time, Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Free Thinking 2012 logo
Radio 3 Producer Tim Prosser reveals the plans for this year's Radio 3 Free Thinking Festival
We’re delighted to announce that the Free Thinking Festival will be returning to The Sage, Gateshead in November for a packed weekend of debate, talks and performance (Friday 2 Nov – Sunday 4 Nov) and three weeks of stimulating broadcasts on Radio 3.
Mary Robinson


This year’s opening lecture will be given by Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. Now in its seventh year, Free Thinking is a platform for today’s innovative and high-profile thinkers from politics, literature, science and the arts, brought together by Radio 3 to debate the ideas shaping our lives. This year’s theme is 'Them and Us' and we’ll be asking if the world is becoming a more divided place, discussing social inequality, difference and how we define ourselves in relation to others. Key speakers already lined up include Amos Oz, Michael Ignatieff, Philippa Gregory, Tony Harrison, Mona Siddiqui, Colm Toibin, Tom Holland and Lee Hall.


All events are free and we hope you’ll want to come to Norman Foster’s fabulous concert hall on the banks of the Tyne and join in the debate. Plus there’ll be poetry, music and drama. We’ll be announcing lots more names in the coming weeks, so do check The Sage, Gateshead website for updates. Free tickets will be available from Friday 17 August.


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The 2012 Proms on TV, part one

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Jan Younghusband Jan Younghusband | 17:42 UK time, Thursday, 19 July 2012

A scene from My Fair Lady at the Proms

A scene from My Fair Lady at the Proms. Photo: Chris Christodoulou/BBC


Greetings Proms fans, here we go again! At last a comfy seat indoors (no more mud and rain) and a summer of fabulous concerts. A journalist asked me the other day, 'How do you choose which concerts to put on TV?' I don’t choose them on my own – but if I did I would put them all on TV! We haven’t found a way of affording all 80, so around 26 seems to be the magic number. For TV we spend hours debating the choices with the Proms team and the channel controllers. The main aim is to create a regular pattern for BBC Four on Thursday and Friday nights, and BBC Two on Saturdays, so the audience knows when they are on and where to find them, as well as of course live every night on Radio 3. I was lying on the sofa last night getting over a horrible cough, listening to the Prom on Radio 3, and I thought in a way it’s a good thing that they aren’t all on TV. Sometimes it’s great just to listen to music and make your own pictures. 

This year there is a new gadget, not in the Royal Albert Hall, but on my phone - the BBC iPlayer app. Finally, the proms are portable! I must confess that I am now watching TV and listening to radio everywhere I go. Yesterday I was walking out of Shepherd’s Bush tube station on the way to work, watching TV on my phone, sporting my smart new headphones (bit of an indulgence ... well, it has been raining a lot) on the way to work and crashed into a scaffolding barrier and nearly broke my kneecap. That’ll teach me! Seriously though, iPlayer app, my hot tip. Proms anytime, any place. Perfection.

The first week of the Proms immediately set out the stall for the broad range of music ahead: new compositions from Mark Anthony Turnage and Kaija Saariaho, a first night of British composers, Delius, Elgar and Tippett (still on the iPlayer if you missed it) and of course the magnificent My Fair Lady on Saturday night. I am so upset that we were not granted the rights to film it - I know how much the audience wanted to see it. John Wilson pops up again though on 27 August with The Broadway Sound, and we are definitely filming it. I listened to My Fair Lady standing in a field at the Latitude Festival in Suffolk – iPlayer app to the rescue again.

The other big excitement this week is Daniel Barenboim and the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra performing all nine Beethoven symphonies. DB has devoted his life to performing Beethoven, so I am very much looking forward to these performances. I’ve had a sneak preview because Michael Waldman and Peter Dale have made a new documentary, 'Barenboim on Beethoven, 9 Symphonies that changed the world' to be broadcast on BBC Two on Saturday 28 July. The film is full not only of DB’s mesmerising insights into the music, my favourite one being how the biography is in the music – and then he tells us why - but also fascinating contributions from Tom Service and the musicians in the orchestra, as we follow them across the world in Korea, Spain and Beijing.

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Proms First Night - The View from the Altos ...

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Graeme Kay Graeme Kay | 16:46 UK time, Tuesday, 17 July 2012

BBC Symphony Chorus members lining up at the Royal Albert Hall

Lining up at the Royal Albert Hall

Sally Cox

Sally Cox

In the first of a series of Proms blogs, BBC Symphony Chorus alto Sally Cox lifts the lid on the First Night ...

The BBC Symphony Chorus almost always sings in the first night concert and this year was no exception.  This year a whole heap of internationally renowned soloists and conductors were lined up to take part - in honour of London 2012, a team of no less than four conductors was engaged for this first night, passing the baton from one to the other in their own Promenade relay.

There is always a delicious sense of anticipation in the few days before the first night. For us, the buzz starts when the conductor comes to the BBC studios for the chorus’s piano rehearsal. This is our one-to-one time, chorus and conductor getting to know each or renewing old acquaintances. The atmosphere is always business-like but the best ones have an extra ingredient. Is it my imagination or has the average age of the soprano section decreased significantly since we first had Ed Gardner for a concert last year? And Sir Mark has at least one devotee somewhere around the centre of the line-up …

When we get to the first orchestra rehearsal there are more treats in store. This is the first time we hear the soloists, and this year we have five of the fruitiest-voiced singers in the Commonwealth - Susan Gritton, Sarah Connolly, Robert Murray, Bryn Terfel and Gerald Finley. Conductors may be special, but a good bass-baritone is something else …

Just before the first rehearsal at the Hall kicks off, Roger Wright, Director of the BBC Proms gives his customary rallying cry, thanks us all for our participation and then we’re off down the home straight to the concert.

Any audience member brave enough to enter the hall without a programme could have been forgiven for missing the point of having four conductors - but this didn’t detract from it being a highly memorable first night. As the man said, it was thrilling. In the end, none of the conductors  dropped the baton, or stabbed themselves with it, and the glue holding the cork handle to the stick didn’t mischievously release its grip during a particularly turbulent passage of the music. All these occurrences have precedent…





Mud, glorious mud!

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Peter Meanwell Peter Meanwell | 13:29 UK time, Monday, 16 July 2012


One of the musicians of COMBÉ playing at Latitude 2012. Photo: Danielle Peck/BBC

One of the musicians of COMBÉ playing at Latitude 2012. Photo: Danielle Peck/BBC

With multi coloured sheep, majestic snowy owls circling the site each evening and, frankly biblical weather, the past four days at the Latitude Festival have seen the Late Junction production team communing with nature in muddy Henham Park in Suffolk.

Nestled in a spruce wood by a lake, Max Reinhardt presented three nights of Late Junction-curated artists in a space called the 'Lavish Lounge', a cosy wallpapered living room with a canopy of trees, where each night rapt audiences would crowd the leather sofas, to see how Late Junction's trademark 'whatever musical gem will they play next- style of late-night radio would transfer to a festival stage.

What they got was a programme that skipped through musical genres like a game of hopscotch, the first night alone taking in Ornette Coleman, Xenakis and Congolese Soukous. Whether it was rising stars such as Sam Lee or Tanya Auclair, big names such as Baloji and Laetitia Sadier, the audience kept coming back to have new musical worlds brought to life under the stars.

For me it was amazing to see how the artists who came from across the world to play, were discovering eachother's music and making connections they hadn't before - Baloji's congolese musicians singing along to Aisha Orazbayeva soundchecking Steve Reich's violin phase, or Tanya Auclair dancing in her wellies to the Afro-Colombian roots of Cumbé.

All the recordings are now being rushed back to Broadcasting House, where the mud will be shaken off and highlights from three nights of festival music- making will be distilled into three episodes of late junction. If you listen carefully you can almost hear the sun coming out.


Peter Meanwell is a producer for BBC Radio 3.

Max Reinhardt presents highlights from Latitude 2012 on Late Junction on Tuesday 16 July (11pm), Wednesday 17 July (11.45pm) and Thursday 18 July (11.15pm). Find details on the Late Junction home page.


Tanya Auclair. Photo: Danielle Peck/BBC

Tanya Auclair. Photo: Danielle Peck/BBC



Final countdown to the 2012 BBC Proms

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Roger Wright Roger Wright | 11:12 UK time, Thursday, 12 July 2012

Roger Wright at the Royal Albert Hall

Roger Wright at the Royal Albert Hall

The 118th season of BBC Henry Wood Promenade Concerts is about to begin and, thanks to the unique way the BBC is funded through the licence fee, the artistic quality remains exceptional and ticket prices as low as ever. 

The vision of those first Proms in 1895 was to bring the best classical music to the largest possible audience and it remains true today.  However the way in which that vision is delivered has changed because of technology which now allows audiences to hear the concerts when they want and see so many on TV; because of online listening that audience goes far beyond the UK, and this year our international audiences can hear the Radio 3 broadcasts in HD sound for the first time this summer.


It promises to be a summer like no other with so much focus on London, and I am really looking forward to this year's Proms more than any other I've known.  I'm delighted that the response to the events has been so positive and that there has been a real sense of the scale and ambition of our plans. I'm pleased too that the Proms forms such a major part of the London 2012 festival.

As with any Proms festival, there will be some unexpected challenges ahead.  Please follow the Proms website for the most up-to-date information about the concerts and other information about the festival in general.


In the next 24 hours I will have heard rehearsals and/or performances including Debussy's masterpiece Pelleas and Melisande, Lerner & Loewe's great musical set in London, My Fair Lady, and the all-British opening night with four conductors involved in a baton relay!  With Daniel Barenboim and his Beethoven symphony cycle, a celebration of Delius, the two London opera houses performing Berlioz and Britten, the Berlin and Vienna Philharmonics each giving two concerts, and so much more, I hope that there is something for everyone to enjoy.


But the question on everyone's lips remains ... Will Wallace have finished his BBC commission on time?  Fingers crossed. Not long to wait to find out!


PS: In recent years I have very much enjoyed answering your questions about any aspect of the BBC Proms. I look forward again to your questions which I will try to answer throughout the festival. Please email with the subject ‘Ask the Director’ to submit a question about the Proms this season.



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



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