Archives for August 2012

It's Grimm up the In Tune studio ...

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Graeme Kay Graeme Kay | 16:38 UK time, Friday, 31 August 2012

picture of bare trees

 

Every day on In Tune next week, you can hear famous writers discussing Grimms' Fairy Tales. Hannah Sander produced the series and here she describes how it came about ... 

It seemed a simple idea. Take five of the country’s leading writers, put them in a studio and ask them to read their version of a Brothers Grimm story. What better way to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the most beloved fairy tales in the world? How exciting, to place these great writers side by side and spot all their many differences.


The Grimm Tales, Sir Terry Pratchett told us, ‘seem to exist in the ether’: Goldilocks, Cinderella, Snow White, Rapunzel, Sleeping Beauty, Little Red Riding Hood, in paintings, stories, films, songs, plays, operas, twisted versions without the happy endings, cleaned up stories for children with all the blood and gore removed, strongly moral retellings, dusty books with illustrations and plates, ballets, fashion shoots, Disney, Disney, and more Disney. The Grimm’s Fairy Tales are everywhere, and in each re-imagining they are enormously different.

Like most children, I read the Grimm Tales and loved them, confusing them in my mind with all the other stories and legends I came across. I first discovered the Grimm Tales rewritten through Carol Ann Duffy’s The World’s Wife. Her poems led me to Angela Carter and Marina Warner, and from there I was hooked. Then this spring Penguin announced that Philip Pullman would be producing a new volume for this anniversary, I discovered that In Tune presenter Suzy Klein also loved the Grimm Tales, and this miniature series was born.

As it happened, the recording proved a logistical nightmare. Between the Olympics, the summer break, the miserable weather making everybody ill and the BBC Proms, our limited resources were completely occupied. All five writers are extremely busy and Suzy’s schedule is similarly hectic. We eventually recorded Michael Morpurgo’s interview in an upstairs office at his publishers in West London. 

These five authors took a set of tales written in old-fashioned prose two hundred years ago, and carry them, and us, to wildly different places. That is why I wanted to make this series.

Haste ye back ...

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Graeme Kay Graeme Kay | 17:17 UK time, Thursday, 23 August 2012

 

Photo of Amy MacDougall and King Creosote

Amy MacDougall and King Creosote

The Late Junction team are preparing for their last gig in Edinburgh. Producer Georgia Mann-Smith has been running on shortbread as she holds the fort ...

It’s Late Junction’s last night here at The Edinburgh Fringe and after some late night hill-walking, extensive shortbread consumption, the odd private performance of ancient Japanese court music and eight Mongolians bringing the sparkly ceilinged house down – it’s been an eventful few days. But it’s not over yet ...

Producer Roger is currently cutting together audio from last night’s excursion up Arthur’s Seat – Edinburgh’s impressively craggy hill – which has been playing host to Speed Of Light, an event which has seen groups of runners setting off up the hill at dusk with sound emitting light staffs which have not only lit up the night sky but generated an ambient sound track for good measure. Our presenter Verity Sharp joined Speed of Light runners and walkers before hosting our programme live from The Tun, the BBC’s Edinburgh HQ, yesterday evening. While she and Roger put their walking boots to good use, I was in the studio holding the fort – and consuming generous amounts of Scottish confectionery. I must admit to feeling a little nervous when I still had no Verity at 11.00 pm (we went on air at 11.45), but thankfully she made it back in good time to host a packed 45-minute show, with guitar fireworks from the now legendary John(s) Williams and Etheridge as well as Mercury Prize-nominated King Creosote and singer Amy McDougall bringing that uniquely Scottish brand of vocal purity to proceedings.

Before things kick off this evening we’ll be going to pick up a carpet for our Azerbaijani superstar Alim Qasimov and his ensemble, then we’ll need to get the piano tuned on stage at the Big Sparkly BBC Tent so that it’s ready for use by both top Scottish new music band The Hebrides Ensemble and vampy chanteuse Camille O’Sullivan who will all be joining us to play live from 11.00 this evening.

And I’m very much hoping to get a set list from the brilliant Scottish singer-song writer Dick Gaughan any minute now, whatever he decides to play will be well worth tuning in for. We’ll be sad to pack up our Late Junction suitcases but as we head down the hill and out of Edinburgh, we’ve got great memories of Mongolian Wind Horses, Gagaku and the odd malfunctioning light staff.

Tune in to Late Junction at 11pm tonight

Wide angle on the Proms

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Graeme Kay Graeme Kay | 16:50 UK time, Thursday, 23 August 2012

Photo of the experimental panoramic camera

The experimental panoramic camera

Silvia is a colleague who works in the BBC’s Audio & Music division. She recently made a personal visit to the Proms, on the night of the Vaughan Williams Prom which featured his Symphonies 3, 4 and 5 . This coincided with the installation of a panoramic camera, being used for the first time in a live Prom concert environment as part of a BBC Research & Development project (more on this in a future blog…). Here, Silvia records her impressions from backstage - where a piano was being prepared for the following evening’s John Cage centenary concert - and in conversation with the Promenaders out front.

When I arrived at the Royal Albert Hall about two hours before the concert, the men in the Hall were just wheeling a piano about that had just been 'prepared' with screws in the strings to change the sound of it for the following evening's performance of John Cage's Concerto for Prepared Piano.

A huge floor area next to the stage was opened and the was lowered down to be stored underneath the stage in a sort of piano park where about five pianos were sitting peacefully next to each other. I then noticed that a few camera men were gathering around an amazing camera that is called Omni-Camera or Panoramic Camera which has a larger than normal camera dynamic range. It sits on a large box about 2 metres high and has six cameras pointing at angled mirrors that capture a picture of the stage and Hall in a 180 degrees radius without distorting the picture at the edges.

The camera shows the picture in more detail in the black and white or dark and bright areas of the viewing object.  It also has a ball-shaped microphone on top, named Eigen-Mike, which has 32 microphones in it that can ‘audio’ zoom in when a particular scene is being focused on. Apparently, the whole thing is six times better than HD. The whole project to develop this prototype camera is EU funded and has the BBC working with Fraunhofer/Heinrich Hertz Institute, a Research and Development company from Germany, and other companies working in the field to develop this technology. The project is called 'Fascinate' -  I was given a very interesting explanation from Hannah Fraser of the BBC Research & Development department and someone from Fraunhofer about the camera and how it works. They then took me underneath the Arena and showed me the 'behind the scenes' part of it. German colleagues from various companies showed me the screen with the picture the camera can take and it was truly amazing to see the Royal Albert Hall’s stage and nearby seats in absolute straightness in 180 degrees, without any distortion.

The processing part of the camera and other equipment was located with colleagues downstairs and they could zoom in and choose close up views with a trackball.  The camera is being trialled for Sports and cultural events in Europe and a cinema that can show the relevant film results in a 180 degree view is located in Berlin. They are also working on a mobile prototype of it to take to live events.  For example, virtual directing can be programmed into the camera at a football match, where the programmed camera follows the ball ...or fouls!  Those different scenes can be streamed next to each other and it’s guaranteed that the camera films every occurrence on the pitch.  One has to say though that the development of the viewing technology will also have to be developed to truly appreciate this new recording technology. The people I spoke to all praised the team spirit and the good collaboration of everyone on the project. It sounded really positive and innovative, a vision of the future.

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Late Junction - to Edinburgh in a twinkle

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Graeme Kay Graeme Kay | 16:56 UK time, Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Picture of Kris Drever and his trio members Eamonn Coyne and Megan Henderson

Kris Drever and his trio members Eamonn Coyne and Megan Henderson

Radio 3 producer Georgia Mann-Smith is with the Late Junction team in Edinburgh. It's raining, but as Georgia explains, that's the least of the challenges when radio, TV and interactive production teams are all at it full tilt ...

 

A band of Mongolian musicians. A Belgian viol consort. Rising stars of the Scottish folk scene – and Gaelic song inspired by a grass weaver from the Outer Hebrides. It could only be Radio 3’s home for the terminally eclectic: Late Junction, and the programme has just landed at the Edinburgh Fringe where we’ll be broadcasting live from the BBC’s sparkly new venue at Potterow. The production team and presenter Verity Sharp are slightly soggy from the Edinburgh August weather, but the clouds were blown away by former BBC Folk Singer of the Year nominee Kris Drever and his trio members Eamonn Coyne and Megan Henderson (banjo, tenor guitar, fiddle and harmonium are covered by those two respectively). They’ve just finished sound checking for tonight’s live programme – with one final request to the sound team for ‘more banjo’, which Eamonn looked slightly surprised about. Niall, Sam and Joanna - our sound team - are being commendably calm about the fairly gargantuan challenge they’ve been set for tonight’s show: having to switch seamlessly from the steppes-inspired Mongolian strains of AnDa Union to the melancholy richness of Ricercar Consort’s viol music, alongside lots of boisterous folk-y energy from Kris Drever and co. And tonight is fairly simple in comparison to Thursday’s show…

I doubt the team will clear the venue tonight before 1.00 am after the show, but our alarm clocks will be set, because tomorrow morning, we’re off to record music from The Musicians of the Imperial Household in Tokyo who’ll be playing Gagaku: music which dates back to 5th century Japan. That’s before we send Verity up Arthur’s Seat – Edinburgh’s landmark hill – while holding a light staff which generates a movement-inspired sound track. So far she seems game, I’ve brought her a lovely kagoule to ensure maximum dryness of light staff. And presenter.

The home of the BBC here at the Fringe is quite a thing to behold. The main space is a giant tent with a black canopy dotted with twinkly lights, which give a slightly surreal Christmassy feel to everything. It’s fair to say that there is a special energy and enjoyment in our work when radio, tv and online teams get together to operate in such close physical proximity.

As I write this Paul Merton and Nicholas Parsons are in conversation on the main stage talking about Just A Minute; CBBC were here this morning and tomorrow everyone from Rory Bremner to Richard Bacon will be taking to the twinkly-ceilinged stage.

As the rain continues to come down on our portacabin, I’m off to find out about the distribution of 300 Mongolian scarves, and to dodge some puddles while seeking out blank CDs. Where’s that kagoule…..? 

How to capture a Musicircus

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Peter Meanwell Peter Meanwell | 16:57 UK time, Saturday, 18 August 2012

(Above and below) Musicircus performers at the London Coliseum

(Above and below) Musicircus performers at the London Coliseum

American composer John Cage’s Musicircus, a musical happening first realised in 1967 'for any number of musicians, being prepared to perform in the same place', is rooted in his idea that 'many musics may be heard at one and the same time'. Which sounds like chaos, yet, as ever with Cage, it is less a chaotic shambles than an extremely disciplined action that opens the door to wholly unexpected results.

 

For the English National Opera Musicircus in March this year, with over 200 performers strewn across the four floors of the Coliseum in London, the combined result was a feast for the senses, sounds streaming in from every angle: around corners, behind closed doors, down stairwells and even in the ladies toilet. Each of the performers, be they hand-bell ringers, violinists, or even John Paul Jones from Led Zeppelin, followed chance-derived timing sheets that dictated when they should play, and when they should be silent. With each sheet being an independently generated set of timings, as a listener you experience the interplay of different musicians stopping, starting, overlapping, creating waves of concurrent musical sounds or silences.

Part of the appeal of a Musicircus is the anarchic nature of a building full of people, a musical carnival, apparently inspired by the composer’s 1931 visit to Seville where he experienced a wild mix of different musicians all on the same street corner. So the idea of recording a Musicircus, creating a fixed version of an event, in which by design anything could happen, is fraught with difficulties. Not least because with 200 performers who may or may not be playing at any one time scattered around a vast Edwardian theatre, you need to have a microphone on everything; and that is a lot of microphones. It is also crucial to be faithful to the idea of the Musicircus, and present the meandering of an interested listener wandering at will through the forest of sounds that make up the piece, open to all. Once you start to make decisions about the relative merits of one sound over the other, what may or may not be more interesting, you start to stray from a Cageian ideal of a 'multiplicity of rights'.

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Small, Smaller, Smallest

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Anthony Churnside Anthony Churnside | 17:27 UK time, Thursday, 16 August 2012

Last week I received an email from Matthew Herbert asking if I could help him with a composition he was planning for BBC Prom 44. Matthew has worked with the London Sinfonietta before and he was asked to create a live remix of the prom.

Metronomes

The performers of Ligeti's Poème Symphonique, relaxing in the Royal Albert Hall Green Room before their performance.

I've recently been working with Matthew on the relaunch of a new Radiophonic Workshop and we've been working with The Space on a number of other related projects. For the live remix of Prom 44 Matthew had a clear vision of what he wanted, and he invited some of the members of the new Radiophonic Workshop, along with some people for the London Sinfonietta to help create the composition. There were 12 volunteers in total, we were each issued with a clipboard and pencil, and were asked to bring along a smart phone - it was the first time I've be told to make sure my phone was fully charged before attending a classical concert!

The piece, Small, Smaller, Smallest, is a comment on the way we all consume music today, using small handheld devices often with very iffy sound quality. Also how the ripping, file sharing and free download culture has changed the relationship between the audience, the performers and the composer. Finally how the mobile phone has changed the culture of concert going (with the danger of random ring-tones going off in concerts), and the change in mind-set we have when we attend concerts (we choose to stay in touch and share our experiences by social media, even as we listen or watch). The piece also democratises the composition process, inviting not only the 12 volenteers, but the whole audience to contribute. 

 

Clipboard

The clipboard was used to make a note of the recorded sections and are effectively a score of the composition.

 

 

The live re-mix would consist of recordings of the evening's performances made by 12 volunteers each using a mobile phone to make one short recording from the build up to the evening, and one recording from each of the 6 performances. The 12 volunteers would be situated in different places in and around the audience. The audience at the Royal Albert Hall would also be asked to contribute to the piece by sending themselves a SMS text message when cued by André Ridder, the conductor, therefore creating a ripple of around 800 SMS alert sounds to accompany the smartphone recordings. The original plan was for the 12 volunteers to play their 7 recordings from where they were located in the audience, but some testing revealed that Radio 3's microphones wouldn't pick up the mobile phones, so each volunteer made their way to the stage after Cage's 4'33 and was given a microphone.

After spending a geeky few minutes comparing field recording apps we set off to mingle with the audience and start our recordings. My choices for the 7 clips ranged from the backstage 3-minute warning to the Sinfonietta tuning up before a performance of Louis Andriessen's De Snelheid. Not to mention a 10 second clip of John Cage's 4'33. The performance of Small, Smaller, Smallest on stage worked well; the structure of the concert clearly audible in our performance and, though it was hard to hear how it sounded from the stage, feedback from both the live audience, and people listening on Radio 3 was very positive. 

From the stage of the Royal Albert Hall

View from the stage of the Royal Albert Hall

My experiments with sound tend to address more technical questions, but I very much enjoyed the sonic exploration of the live remix of Prom 44. The whole of Prom 44 is available to hear on iPlayer for a limited time.

Anthony Churnside is a technologist in the R&D audio team based at Salford

 

Gurrelieder - A Chorus of Approval

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Graeme Kay Graeme Kay | 16:24 UK time, Thursday, 16 August 2012

 

Photo of Carole Cameron

Bolt-Gurrelieder

Earlier this week, Phil Hall reported on the BBC Proms performance of Schoenberg's Gurrelieder from the orchestra's perspective. Now BBC Symphony Chorus soprano Carole Cameron gives the view from the choir seats ...

Well clearly this is the only gig in town tonight!

The first rehearsal found director Stephen Jackson, reminiscing about a previous performance, when he'd been demonstrating how he wanted a passage sung. The Narrator commented 'mmm, nice voice'. It was Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau...

It can be seen as a 'cough and a spit' for us ladies of the chorus but what a spit! As soon as I see 'Farben Froh' in the score, I hear the voice of our former German language coach Geraldine Franks, fondly known 'Mrs Deutsch', intoning '23 double Rrrrrs and 23 double FFFFs please'. Tonight we're fortunate to have been coached by her successor Norbert Meyn, no mean tenor himself, and infamous in rehearsal for being inclined to take over from whoever is officially conducting, such is his enthusiasm.

This will be my fourth 'Gurrelieder' and it's still an absolute 'must do'. The first was particularly memorable: my father was in the audience and as he, and I, came back down to earth he said, 'Well, I never thought I'd see Hans Hotter on stage; I certainly never imagined my daughter would be on the same stage.'

But our line-up of soloists was definitely the best I've heard. We are over 450 performers, and as a result we've been in an unusual set of venues recently, not just seeking refreshment without a massive queue. Inevitably, when most of us were rehearsing at Cadogan Hall on Monday last week, one of our sopranos managed a two-minute guest appearance in a Mark Elder rehearsal in Maida Vale Studio 2, before realising that all was not well. On Wednesday we visited the Friends' Meeting House, near Euston, and on Saturday, Central Methodist Hall Westminster. On Sunday, the day of the performance, we invited all involved to our 'warm down': usually Stephen Jackson's notes on rehearsal but this time BBC Symphony Chorus Pimms in the Park and picnic. The ladies of Crouch End Festival Chorus won the football.

The week's best Jacksonism: 'Basses, I don't care what orifice that top E flat comes out of...' LOL!

The conductor, Jukka-Pekka Saraste last worked with us in 2005 on Rachmaninov's The Bells. He's dry, laconic even, but very clear. Sunday morning's rehearsal instruction was, 'Don't be too civilised in your singing. We could do it all mezzo forte, but....'

Stand, breathe: 'Seht': the sun - and the pitch - rises, adrenalin starts to flow. We rise above the 1st sopranos into the sun, perched on a top A, descending to the glorious, endless [breathe again] C major final chord. There are worse ways of spending your Sunday...

 

Building on success - BBC Philharmonic Presents Mk II

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Richard Wigley Richard Wigley | 13:20 UK time, Thursday, 16 August 2012

Picture of Richard Hawley and Joe Duddell rehearsing with the BBC Philharmonic

Richard Hawley and Joe Duddell rehearse with the BBC Philharmonic. Photo: Simon Pantling.

General manager Richard Wigley introduces the next BBC Philharmonic Presents event 

 The original thought behind the first festival came to me during a run along the Bridgewater Canal; was it possible for the BBC Philharmonic to appear on all the BBC’s national radio networks in a three week period? It was and we had such a ball doing the first festival that a warm wind has been blowing behind the idea of another one. 

I loved that so many people, many of whom don’t normally listen to orchestras, were wowed by the power and emotion of 90 musicians in a musical context that they found familiar.

For the next festival we are going to spread the live experience across the north of England in keeping with the vision for BBC North. We’re taking the orchestra from Bridlington to Blackpool via Bradford, Salford and Sheffield with some of the best loved and most creative artists and producers in the UK.  We begin on BBC Radio 6Music (Station of the Year don’t you know) with Sheffield’s own Richard Hawley and his band. They’ve teamed up with composer Joe Duddell (a Salford boy through and through) to create an intriguing evening in Sheffield.  Richard has formulated for the first time a collaboration for his own band with orchestra that will set the standard for the whole festival.

Second up is Radio 5 live on Friday 14 September with Simon Mayo and Mark Kermode.  Our great 5 live colleague Rhian Roberts has been an inspiration for us and we both agreed that Simon and Mark’s show in the first festival was outstanding; so we’ve created another film special this time featuring the music of James Bond. Rhian then coordinated Radio 2 (for a 'spy classics' Friday Night is Music Night), Red Button (to create an hour long show) and Radio Times (to run a vote for the nation’s favourite Bond theme).

George Ergatoudis at Radio 1 had the vision to combine the Phil with Nero last year and thereby created a storm of interest that continues to this day.  This year he’s attracted The xx for a similar journey (in Bridlington) for a live Zane Lowe show on Wednesday 19 September.  Young composer Alex Baranowski was their exciting choice to generate the orchestra score and he’s been regularly attending the orchestra’s concerts (lately our Bruckner Prom) to hear what they can do.  I know he’s thinking hard about the different effects that he can use to create a special sound for the band.

In the first festival we worked with ace West End conductor Mike Dixon on a musicals evening for Radio 2; Mike was a huge hit with the Phil musicians and I was determined that we should work together again; he proposed a wide range of projects and the one that was perfect was Miles Davis orchestrated by the hugely talented Guy Barker with Guy’s Jazz Orchestra.  We’re taking the show to Blackpool on Wednesday 17 October and it’ll be live on Radio 3.  Guy calls me regularly to update on his thinking and I know that he’s written a 25’ 'Kind of Blue' suite that promises to be iconic.

I’m particularly pleased that we’re working with the Asian Network in Bradford (Monday 12 November) for the first time.  Asian Network’s Neila Butt has proposed a celebration of the life and songs of Pakistani singer Noor Jehan.  Although she died in 2000, her recordings are a powerful testament to her artistry and we’ll honour that legacy with the full orchestra performing alongside a group of remarkable Pakistani musicians.

Our Radio 2 date, Thursday 6 December, is so high profile it’s a secret that I can’t share with you….yet.  We’re really buzzing that we’ll be working with these superstars in our studio; they came to hear Nero with us last year and were so taken with the studio that they insisted we use that for this project.

Our last event is one that is close to my heart; for the past few months Radio 4 have been broadcasting editions of The Listening Project which are highly personal conversations.  Radio 4 commissioner Tony Phillips has asked producer Cathy Fitzgerald to draw together a range of these conversations around which composer Gary Carpenter can create a live orchestra score lasting half an hour. Life won’t be the same after this one.

 

Big IS Beautiful

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Phil Hall Phil Hall | 15:47 UK time, Tuesday, 14 August 2012

 

The score of Schoenberg's Gurrelieder

 

BBC Symphony Orchestra sub-principal viola Phil Hall says, if you’ve never heard the Gurrelieder, a treat awaits you on the iPlayer …

If there is one piece of music to rival the huge scale of the Olympic Closing Ceremony, then it has to be Schoenberg’s epic cantata on Danish legends, Gurreleider.

I have loved this extraordinary piece since student days when people who had seen a rare performance of it would talk about it with awe and wonder, as if they had seen Bigfoot or the giant Bamyan Buddhas.

Fortunately in the last 20 years the BBC Symphony Orchestra has had the rare pleasure of performing it three times, twice at the Proms, and last Sunday night was the fourth. The reason it is seldom done is the expense - the orchestra is larger than that required for Mahler 8 and there are almost as many singers.

But what I love most is the sheer beauty of the music; magical intimate moments sit alongside barnstorming battles with a sunrise ending that turns my legs to jelly. Late Schoenberg can be box-office poison but this work is early, deeply Romantic; think Wagner orchestrated by Mahler and you are close to his amazing sound world. Actually Schoenberg took so long to orchestrate the piece (10 years) that his style had changed to dodecaphonic (twelve-tone, or tone-row) by the time of the premiere in Vienna in 1911. In fact he famously sat through it scowling and refused to bow to the audience despite a rave reception!

But if you haven’t heard this beautiful behemoth I would strongly urge you to catch it on the iPlayer just in case your legs go to jelly at the end as well …

 

 

 

 

 

 

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"In BaaaAAAA-BY-LON..." Preparing for Prom 23

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Steve Bowbrick Steve Bowbrick | 17:50 UK time, Friday, 10 August 2012

The view from the Chorus - rehearsing in Colston Hall

Jon Parker is a member of the BBC Symphony Chorus. He wrote this post during rehearsals for Prom 23, which you can listen to online for the next four days. On Sunday he and the Chorus will be performing Schoenberg's extraordinary Gurrelieder in Prom 41 - Steve Bowbrick, Interactive Editor, Radio 3.

26th July: Piano Rehearsal.

While a certain torch is making its way towards Westminster, the BBC Symphony Chorus congregates in Maida Vale 2 for the piano rehearsal. To this point, we have had four rehearsals to learn Ireland's These Things Shall Be and Walton's Belshazzar's Feast with our Chorus Director Stephen Jackson. For many, Belshazzar is an old friend while the Ireland is almost universally unknown. However we have worked on them in much the same way, with text, intonation and dynamics high on the agenda.

Tonight we meet Maestro Otaka. This is our chance to have some one-on-one time with him so we jump into the detail. It's certainly tiring, but enjoyable, and after a final pep talk from Stephen it's time to battle with the Tube.

29th July: BBC Symphony Chrous goes to Bristol.

Today we are in Colston Hall in Bristol to join up with the BBC National Orchestra and Chorus of Wales. We use the rehearsal to combine everything we have been learning with getting used to taking cues from the dense orchestral texture. For Maestro Otaka and the (now) two chorus directors it is the first stage of balancing the three groups. Lots to be done...

31st July.

General Rehearsal: The orchestra and chorus are joined by Jonathan Lemalu and London Brass to add the finishing touches. Our task is to get used to the acoustics and to get used to projecting the text all the way to the gallery. Maestro Otaka works through the programme before Adrian Partington, Chorus Director of the BBC National Chorus of Wales, gives us some final notes.

Concert: Being a relative newbie to the BBC Symphony Chorus this is only my twelfth Prom (!), but performing to a full house at the Royal Albert Hall remains nothing but thrilling. This has been in the diary as my Proms 2012 highlight since we performed Belshazzar with Edward Gardner in December. It's so much fun to sing! I challenge any performer not to have an ear-to-ear grin at the end of it. Inevitably, the concert is over in a flash, and so after saying farewell to our Welsh colleagues, it's back to normality. Rehearsals for Gurrelieder continue on Friday. Watch this space...

The RAJAR listening figures are in

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Roger Wright Roger Wright | 11:31 UK time, Thursday, 2 August 2012

The Rajar listening figures. A picture by Adam Bowie.

Radio 3 has 2.04 million weekly listeners - compared to 1.9m last quarter and 2.17m last year. The network's share is 1.2%, from 1.1% last quarter and 1.3% last year.

So the discussion goes on... Is London empty or busy? Traffic getting easier or building again? Airports busier than ever with people leaving the UK or coping with arrivals? Museums and galleries visitors down on their normal numbers over the summer or doing well because of the bad weather?

At the BBC Proms we have still been attracting large audiences, even for the some of the less well known repertoire. It will be interesting to see what our final percentage attendance will be, but I suspect it will again be above 80% and when the Royal Albert Hall (capacity of over 5000) is packed for composers Gudmundsen-Holmgreen and Langaard you know that the Proms vision and the festival's unique audience are alive and well.

My mind turned to figures this morning as the radio industry listening for April to June was just announced. The Radio 3 figures have risen, mainly due to significant increases in our morning programmes, Breakfast in particular.

Of course, as I always say, our listening figures are only one measure of success. However, it is gratifying to know that, given the pressure on everyone's time and the increasing choices about how we spend it, the Radio 3 audience remains so loyal and that new listeners continue to discover the station.

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

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