Radio 3 announces January programming for 2014

In continuing to evolve the Radio 3 schedule, we have sought to provide the best value for money for the licence fee payer and the most distinctive offering for our audience."Roger Wright, Controller, BBC Radio 3
Date: 18.12.2013     Last updated: 18.03.2014 at 17.59
Category: Radio 3
BBC Radio 3, the home of classical music, today announced programming highlights and schedules changes for 2014.

Following BBC Radio 3 schedule changes earlier in the year which included the creation of a schedule of Opera On 3 with a Monday night opera slot and continuing live opera on Saturday nights, Opera On 3 will include every opera by Strauss in 2014 to mark the 150th anniversary of the composer’s birth.

The Strauss extravaganza will launch with two recordings made at the Royal Opera House: Capriccio starring Renée Fleming on Saturday 4 January and Elektra conducted by Andris Nelsons on Monday 6 January. The broadcasts will continue on Radio 3 beyond the anniversary of the composer’s birth on 11 June 2014, which will feature special programming, and through the BBC Proms festival and into the autumn with more detailed listings to be announced in due course.

Roger Wright, Controller of BBC Radio 3, commented: "As the home of classical music, Radio 3 is proud to bring our listeners every operatic work by this remarkable composer through our new Opera On 3 slots, leading up to a special weekend around the actual anniversary of the composer’s birth. This is the sort of bold public service programming for which Radio 3 is known for and follows a successful run of Verdi, Wagner and Britten opera scheduling in their anniversary years for 2013. There is no other station which offers complete operas in the UK.”

Also from January, following the success of the annual Free Thinking Festival produced by the Night Waves production team, Night Waves will become Free Thinking all year round in the Radio 3 schedules. The new programme will bring together the spirit of Radio 3’s festival of ideas and the station’s existing regular coverage of arts and debate. From 10pm on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, Free Thinking will host artists, intellectuals, entrepreneurs and policy makers who are shaping the way we think and feel. It will continue to feature extended interviews and conversations, provocative arguments and illuminating debates and opinion formers of the contemporary world.

Free Thinking programme highlights in the new year will include an edition dedicated to a discussion between Germaine Greer and Christos Tsiolkas, author of The Slap, about the divisions in contemporary Australia; coverage of the TS Eliot prize and topics including our attitude to suicide, how slavery has been depicted in film and literature, an exploration of the changes in Russian culture and society at home and abroad and an edition dedicated to Charlie Chaplin’s landmark film City Lights.

There will also be a change to Radio 3’s topical magazine programme, Music Matters, which reflects important issues in the classical music industry. Music Matters will become a regular weekly fixture from September to July in its usual slot of Saturdays at 12.15pm. The programme will feature prominent interviews with major figures in the classical music world commencing on the 4 January with the German Conductor Christian Thielemann, widely regarded as one of the greatest living exponents of the Austro-German symphonic and operatic repertoire.

Radio 3 will be taking a break from commissioning Discovering Music from the 1 January. Instead, music context will be covered throughout the schedule in some existing strands and by presenters in discussion with guests during intervals of live concert broadcasts.

January will also see the start of an ambitious new series within Radio 3’s flagship world music programme, World On 3, following the consolidation of the programme with World Routes in last year’s schedule changes. The range of music and culture across all 53 countries of the Commonwealth will be explored in Commonwealth Connections, a 26-part series, broadcast from Friday 31 January as part of World On 3.

The series kicks off in the home of next year’s Commonwealth Games, Glasgow, at the Celtic Connections festival and runs until the Commonwealth Games in July. Featuring musicians from across the Commonwealth and music tracks introduced by sports people and cultural figures, Commonwealth Connections culminates in a live concert from Glasgow on 1 August, just before the close of the Games, from BBC@theQuay, the BBC’s cultural hub on the banks of the Clyde. The series will also feature on BBC World Service, and will be available both for internet streaming and download.

Drama On 3 continues in January with a major new series of one of the key works in the history of theatre, The Oresteia trilogy by Aeschylus, adapted for Radio 3 by leading contemporary playwrights. Together, these playwrights have created a new vision of this seminal tale of murder, revenge and justice. Simon Scardifield has written a new version of Agamemnon (12 January); the second play, The Libation Bearers, is by Ed Hime (19 January) and the third, The Furies, is by Rebecca Lenkiewicz (26 January).

In the New Year, The Essay explores The Book That Changed Me, a series featuring five public figures from 20-24 January. Listeners can hear former Home Secretary Alan Johnson MP on David Copperfield; businessman Luke Johnson on The Magic Of Thinking Big; singer Tracey Thorn on The Female Eunuch; Children’s Laureate Malorie Blackman on The Color Purple; and actor/director Simon McBurney on John Berger's And Our Faces, My Heart, Brief As Photos.

Roger Wright, Controller of BBC Radio 3, commented: “Although we have had to make tough decisions in order to make savings in line with the rest of the BBC, by broadcasting Free Thinking over three days rather than four and taking a break from commissioning Discovering Music, we have protected the unique and ambitious range of the station’s live music - its classical, world music, jazz and arts content - whilst reducing our overall volume output.

"Free Thinking consolidates our two strong arts and ideas brands - Free Thinking and Night Waves - which have been delivered with such success by the same production team. In continuing to evolve the Radio 3 schedule, we have sought to provide the best value for money for the licence fee payer and the most distinctive offering for our audience. From every Strauss opera to a topical world music series and boundary pushing drama – Radio 3 remains a home for passionate minds everywhere.”