The BBC presents brand-new documentaries and exceptional live performances in a year-long celebration of culture.
Unveiled today, former Royal Ballet Principal Ballerina Darcey Bussell joins BBC Young Dancer 2015 as co-presenter and dance expert for the Grand Final
Also announced, Chief Executive of The Place Kenneth Tharp joins BBC Young Dancer 2015 as Category Finalist Judge across all categories
A new season of programming announced exploring the Classical Voice on BBC Four, BBC Two and BBC Radio 3 including:
- Amanda Vickery and Tom Service explore the real-life drama behind one of the world’s most popular operas, Verdi’s La Traviata (La Traviata & The Women Of London, BBC Two)
- BBC Radio 3 presents a whole season dedicated to the human voice in classical music, in June
- BBC Cardiff Singer of the World returns to BBC Four and BBC Radio 3 in its search for the world’s best opera talent
- Music Director of The Royal Opera, Sir Antonio Pappano, examines the art and science behind the classical voice (The Golden Age Of Singing, BBC Four)
- Simon Russell Beale tells the story of The Monteverdi Vespers (The Duke And The Composer, BBC Two)
Popular Song is put under the spotlight as Petula Clark explores the story of the lyric-driven French chanson (Chanson: The Story Of French Music With Petula Clark, BBC Four)
Artistic Director of Birmingham Royal Ballet, David Bintley, traces the birth of ballet during King Louis XIV of France’s reign (The King Who Invented Ballet, BBC Four)
BBC Four announces a major focus on Contemporary Dance in the autumn, including a broadcast of Wim Wenders’ award-winning dance film PINA, based on the life and work of German choreographer and dancer Pina Bausch
The BBC today launched The Year of Song and Dance 2015 on BBC Four, unveiling new commissions, partnerships and talent signings, exploring the extraordinary power of song and dance across a whole spectrum of eras and styles, from ballet to contemporary dance and classical voice to popular song. Part of the BBC’s biggest ever commitment to the arts, the season also features major programming on BBC Two and BBC Radio 3 alongside complementary programming elsewhere on BBC Radio.
Neil Brand’s Sound of Song on BBC Four, Friday 16 January, launches the year-long season, and a collaboration between CBeebies and Northern Ballet continues for a third year with CBeebies Elves and The Shoemaker this Easter. In the spring, BalletBoyz: The Talent documents the life and work of ground-breaking independent dance company BalletBoyz. The inaugural BBC Young Dancer 2015 follows in April on BBC Four and BBC Radio 3 with the final on BBC Two in May. A Classical Voice season on BBC Two, BBC Four and BBC Radio 3 in summer (June) includes the return of BBC Cardiff Singer of the World; new commissions on BBC Two including La Traviata & The Women Of London (Working Title), and The Duke and the Composer: Monteverdi in Mantua; and a three-part BBC Four series on the classical voice, The Golden Age of Singing, presented by Music Director of the Royal Opera, Sir Antonio Pappano. In July, David Bintley, Artistic Director of Birmingham Royal Ballet investigates how the foundations of ballet were laid during the reign of King Louis XIV of France, in The King Who Invented Ballet. The autumn will see a major focus on Contemporary Dance, featuring Wim Wenders’ award-winning dance film PINA, based on the life and work of German dancer and choreographer Pina Bausch, and the story of contemporary dance told through the journey of a group of young dancers in new documentary Strictly Modern Dance. The year culminates with a rich offering of festive treats at Christmas.
Tony Hall, BBC Director-General, says: “BBC Four's Year of Song and Dance is everything I love about the BBC. Over the next 12 months we'll be offering everyone extraordinary access to some of today's great artists and performers. And we'll be working with the very best to inspire new talent right across the country. When the BBC gets behind something, working closely with lots of others, we can offer opportunities like no-one else. Drawing the BBC together, from CBBC to Radio 3, has created something very special - something only the BBC could do.”
Announced today, Darcey Bussell will be lending her dance expertise to the Grand Final of BBC Young Dancer 2015, which will be broadcast live from Sadler’s Wells on BBC Two in May. She will be part of the presenting team meeting the dancers as they prepare for the Grand Final and providing her expert insight into the demands of the dance profession. Kenneth Tharp, Chief Executive of The Place, will be Category Final Judges across all of the competition’s Category Finals. He will judge all of the finalists from each category, selecting six entrants to go through to the Grand Final.
They will join the already considerable list of judges and ambassadors, which includes ballet star Carlos Acosta; Artistic Director of New Adventures, Choreographer and Director Matthew Bourne; Choreographer and Dancer Akram Khan; Choreographer and Director Wayne McGregor; English National Ballet Artistic Director Tamara Rojo; Dancer and Choreographer Kenrick Sandy; and Alistair Spalding, Chief Executive and Artistic Director of Sadler's Wells. A showcase of the UK’s most talented and dedicated young dancers across Ballet, Contemporary, Hip Hop and South Asian Dance, the competition concludes in a televised Grand Final (Saturday 9 May, BBC Two). Four programmes featuring highlights from each of the Category Finals with introductions to the respective dance styles and behind-the-scenes content will be shown on BBC Four in the weeks running up to the Grand Final, and BBC Radio 1Xtra, Radio 2, Radio 3 and BBC Asian Network will also broadcast complementary programming around the time of the Grand Final.
Darcey Bussell says: “I’m delighted to be involved in BBC Young Dancer, which I know will encourage and support the next generation of new dance talent. The BBC is unique in being able to offer such a fantastic platform to young dancers. Dance and music are two arts that are inspiring and uplifting; it is so important that they play a significant role in people’s lives. Exploring and celebrating the arts in new and exciting ways through programming like The BBC’s Year of Song and Dance is essential to keeping the arts alive and bringing new perspectives on culture to a wide audience, and I am thrilled to be a part of it.”
Kenneth Tharp, Chief Executive of The Place, says: “What dance has in common with singing is that the body is our instrument, which is why it is so exciting to see the BBC putting both song and dance centre-stage for a whole year in a season that will reach the whole country. Creating the right conditions for talent to thrive is essential, and I hope that programmes like BBC Young Dancer will help to nurture and showcase outstanding young talent in the UK, and to inspire future young dancers to pursue their ambitions.”
At the centre of a BBC Two, BBC Four and BBC Radio 3 season celebrating the Classical Voice in summer 2015, the internationally renowned BBC Cardiff Singer of the World returns with 20 of the world’s finest classical singers at the start of their careers competing in the Welsh capital for the prestigious prize (14 June – 21 June, BBC Radio 3 and BBC Four) accompanied by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and the Orchestra of Welsh National Opera. A showcase for the best emerging international opera talent, the biennial competition has launched the careers of major stars including Karita Mattila, Dmitri Hvorostovsky, and Anja Harteros. Dame Kiri Te Kanawa returns in her role as Patron to offer her experience as a world-renowned opera singer to the competitors, as well as her passion for developing talented young singers.
Dame Kiri Te Kanawa says: "I'm really looking forward to the 2015 BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition. As Patron, I have wanted to become more involved, as I do believe that competitions are very good for singers. To be given the opportunity to have their talent seen by a larger audience is a huge plus. The BBC is very dedicated to promoting these classical singers and I feel that the competition has gone from strength to strength. The singers this year are very exciting, and I'm very proud to be Patron of this prestigious, career-changing competition. The BBC is so supportive of music and the arts in this country, and indeed around the world. I'm pleased to be associated with them, and to be able to lend my experience and advice to the producers there."
From Classical Voice to Popular Song, a new documentary also unveiled today, presented by the British chanteuse Petula Clark, who shot to fame in France in the late 1950s. The programme explores the story of the lyric-driven French chanson and the reasons for its unprecedented longevity (Chanson: The Story Of French Music with Petula Clark, BBC Four). Comedian Reginald D Hunter (from the US state of Georgia) embarks on an epic road trip from North Carolina to New Orleans through 150 years of American popular song in a three-part series on BBC Two, and composer and musician Neil Brand returns to BBC Four on Friday 16 January with a new series exploring the magical elements that come together to create our favourite songs (Sound of Song, BBC Four).
Neil Brand says: “As a composer and writer I feel very fortunate to have had the chance to make this BBC Four series Sound of Song. I have been fascinated by music technology all my life (I bought my first synthesiser in 1977) and recognise how we all own 'our' songs, how we soundtrack our lives, define ourselves through music and revisit it constantly. The BBC's support for music and the arts always has been crucial to this country's culture; most of the music I talk about in the series I first came across through the BBC and I really hope that future generations will get the same opportunities that I did to discover creative wonders they couldn't imagine.”
Among the wide-ranging dance content throughout the year, BalletBoyz: The Talent broadcasts on BBC Four in the spring, documenting the life and work of the ground-breaking independent dance company BalletBoyz with footage from their 2014 Roundhouse performances featuring Liam Scarlett's Serpent and Russell Maliphant's Fallen accompanied by the BBC Concert Orchestra and behind-the-scenes insights.
Michael Nunn and Billy Trevitt, Directors of BalletBoyz, say: “We feel it is crucial to continue to find ways of placing excellence in the arts on television, and we are committed to making dance work for that medium and to identifying an appropriate space for it.”
Cassian Harrison, Channel Editor of BBC Four, says: “Song and Dance are our two most democratic art forms - everyone has danced or sung at some point in life, with varying degrees of success, and I’m absolutely thrilled that we are celebrating these important art forms over a whole year on BBC Four. We’re bringing together some of the very best in established British and global talent in these areas, as well as encouraging the next generation, in what is a terrific example of how BBC Four can inspire content and creativity across the BBC.”
Jan Younghusband, BBC Head of Music and Events TV Commissioning, says: “We have actively pursued putting performers centre stage in our programmes, so it’s very exciting to see so many top artists both presenting and taking part in the Year of Song and Dance. They not only bring their expertise to the young stars of the future, but also share with our audiences the trade secrets of how great performance is achieved.”
The Year of Song and Dance 2015 Highlights
Sound of Song
Composer and musician Neil Brand returns to BBC Four with a new series that explores the magical elements that come together to create our favourite songs.
Songs are the soundtrack of our lives and it takes a kind of genius to create a true pop masterpiece. But as Neil Brand will argue, there is more to consider in the story of what makes a great song. In this three-part series, Neil will look at every moment in the lifecycle of a song: how they are written, performed, recorded and the changing ways we have listened to them. He will reveal how it is the wonderful alchemy of all of these elements that makes songs so special to us.
January 2015, BBC Four
Produced by BBC Arts Bristol
BalletBoyz: The Talent
BalletBoyz: The Talent documents the life and work of this ground-breaking company with footage from their 2014 Roundhouse performances - the culmination of a two-year tour during which they were awarded 'Best Independent Company' at the National Dance Awards, while choreographer Russell Maliphant won 'Best Modern Choreography' and lighting designer Michael Hulls won an Olivier Award.
Featuring Liam Scarlett's Serpent with music by Max Richter and Russell Maliphant's Fallen with music by Armand Amar, and accompanied by the BBC Concert Orchestra conducted by Paul Murphy, the film also includes interviews with the dancers and choreographers along with insights into their creative processes as well as behind-the-scenes footage.
Spring 2015, BBC Four
Produced by The Ballet Boyz
BBC Young Dancer
The BBC is to turn the spotlight on the UK’s best young dancers with the first ever BBC Young Dancer 2015. The nationwide award has invited dancers to submit entries to compete for six places in a televised Grand Final to be shown live on BBC Two in May 2015.
Four programmes featuring highlights from each of the Category Finals with introductions to the respective dance styles and behind-the-scenes content will also be shown on BBC Four in the weeks running up to the Grand Final. These documentaries will give an insight into the demands and dedication needed to pursue a career in one of the most rigorous and disciplined art-forms.
The Grand Final will be judged by a leading panel of dance experts; Artistic Director of New Adventures, Choreographer and Director Matthew Bourne; Choreographer and Dancer Akram Khan; Choreographer and Director Wayne McGregor; English National Ballet Artistic Director Tamara Rojo; Dancer and Choreographer Kenrick Sandy; and Alistair Spalding, Chief Executive and Artistic Director of Sadler's Wells.
April and May 2015, BBC Two, BBC Four
Produced by BBC Music Wales
Chanson: The Story of French Music with Petula Clark
In this unique film for BBC Four, Petula Clark, who shot to stardom in France in the late 1950s, explores the story of the lyric-driven French chanson and looks at the reasons for its unprecedented longevity.
Clark will meet the prodigious singers and artists who propelled the art form into the spotlight including Jane Birkin who had a global hit with the controversial Je t’aime (Moi non plus) alongside Serge Gainsbourg. She will also explore the clubs and districts in Paris that helped give the art form a platform and propel singers into the spotlight.
Clark will also uncover the art of contemporary French composition, looking at lyrical form, and how this distinctive song-writing has inspired a new genre of chanson including Camille, Zaz Benjamin Biolay, Vanessa Paradis and Etienne Daho, who have remixed, amplified, sampled and morphed the traditional form into a new sound, taking it back onto the streets and to underground venues on the peripheries of Paris.
May 2015, BBC Four
Produced by Isis Productions
BBC Cardiff Singer of the World
BBC Cardiff Singer of the World 2015 is the eight-day biennial competition known throughout the classical music world as the premier showcase for opera and concert singers at the outset of their careers.
Auditions are held in cities around the globe in search of the next generation of opera singers. The finalists, announced at the end of February, will then perform in front of a jury of distinguished opera experts over the period of a week in Cardiff in June, accompanied by two world-class orchestras – BBC National Orchestra of Wales, conducted by Thomas Søndergård, and the Orchestra of Welsh National Opera, conducted by Martyn Brabbins - and supported and mentored by Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Patron of the competition again this year.
June 2015, BBC Four
Produced by BBC Cymru Wales
The Golden Age of Singing
In this series, Sir Antonio Pappano, Music Director of the Royal Opera House, examines the art and science behind the four major voice types: tenor, soprano, mezzo-soprano and bass-baritone.
He explores the vocal glories of the greatest stars to emerge since recording began - Caruso, Callas, Pavarotti, Sutherland, Nilsson, Chaliapin, Baker, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Verrett and Gobbi - and the stand-out roles they made their own: Radames, Nemorino, Otello, Florestan, Tristan; Mimi, Norma, Tosca, Aida, Brűnnhilde; Carmen, Orfeo, Amneris, Octavio, Ulrica; Don Giovanni, Boris Godunov, Rigoletto, Scarpia, and Figaro.
With the help of some illustrious guests including Placido Domingo, José Carreras, Renée Fleming, Joyce DiDonato and Bryn Terfel, Antonio Pappano explores the nuts and bolts of great singing. How do you become a tenor, bass or soprano? Do you choose your voice type or does it choose you? How do you project, especially over a super-sized Wagnerian orchestra? How does a singer physically produce their enchanting sounds?
With rare archive and unprecedented access, Antonio Pappano unlocks the musical secrets of the human voice.
June 2015, BBC Four
Produced by BBC Music Television (London)
La Traviata & The Women Of London (Working Title)
Verdi’s La Traviata is the world’s most popular opera, performed well over 3,000 times in the past five years alone. But when it was staged in London for the first time in 1856 it caused a scandal that reverberated through Victorian England, the echoes of which can still be heard today.
The story of a dying courtesan, Violetta, who sacrifices herself for her lover, Alfredo, touched on some of the most incendiary issues of the time: male desire and female sexuality, public morality and private hypocrisy, the sanctity of marriage and the fear of disease.
In this hour-long special, Amanda Vickery and Tom Service tell the dramatic story of La Traviata’s London premiere and its stormy aftermath. Specially shot highlights from the opera, filmed in collaboration with Opera North, will take audiences to the dramatic heart of the story, while Amanda and Tom explore the unlikely triumph of an operatic heroine who the critics reviled but the women of London came to love.
June 2015, BBC Two
Produced by Reef Television
Radio 3 Classical Voice Season (Working Title)
Coinciding with the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World Competition in June, Radio 3 will devote a season to the joys of the human voice as reflected in Classical music, from songs and opera, to choral pieces; from secular to religious output.
June 2015, BBC Radio 3
The King Who Invented Ballet
King Louis XIV of France is known as the 'father of ballet' and in this programme David Bintley, Artistic Director of Birmingham Royal Ballet, investigates how the foundations of dance as we know it were laid during King Louis' reign.
Meeting world experts, Bintley uncovers the critical social and cultural role ballet had, not only in Louis XIV's French court but also in the political power-play across 17th-century Europe. The film also follows Bintley as he choreographs a brand-new contemporary ballet: The King Dances, inspired by Louis XIV and based on one of the most seminal works of dance in history: Le Ballet de la Nuit.
Featuring stunning locations both in England and France, and blending specially shot dance sequences with insightful historical documentary, The King Who Invented Ballet brings to light the 300-year-old legacy of the Sun King himself: Louis XIV.
July 2015, BBC Four
Produced by BBC Music TV (London)
In early 2009, director Wim Wenders began filming the work of renowned German choreographer Pina Bausch, and her dance company, the Tanztheater Wuppertal. Unexpectedly, two days prior to rehearsals, Pina died. As the dance world mourned the loss of one of its great pioneers, Wenders cancelled the film, convinced it should not be pursued without her. However, following a period of reflection and with the support of her family and colleagues, Wenders decided to revive the film; Pina is his dedication to her.
Featuring some of her most innovative choreography, including Café Müller, Le Sacre du Printemps, Vollmond and Kontakthof, the film interweaves archive footage of Pina herself at work, and follows the dancers on to the streets of Wuppertal, the spiritual home of her creativity.
Autumn 2015, BBC Four
Produced by Neue Road Films
Strictly Modern Dance
Strictly Modern Dance is the story of contemporary dance, told in a wholly new way - through the journey of talented young dancers.
The film, made by Fresh One productions, producer of Ballet Changed My Life, Play it Again, Operatunity and The Sound And The Fury, will bring to a wider audience an understanding of what exactly Contemporary Dance is. When did it start? What were the moments that defined it, the compelling stories of the people, places and world events that changed the course of the art form?
To address this question in film, Strictly Modern Dance is going on a journey with the students of Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, one of Europe's leading centres for the training of professional contemporary dance artists, and will feature famous alumni.
We will follow a group of talented young dancers as they as learn some of the most iconic modern dances from the last 100 years. We will watch, step by step, as they encounter the groundbreaking paradigm-shifting moments in the history of Contemporary Dance, and follow the process as they come to perform and understand the ideas of the choreographers whose work challenged audiences, made history and revolutionised dance.
Autumn 2015, BBC Four
Produced by Fresh One Production
The Duke And The Composer: Monteverdi In Mantua
A new BBC Two documentary, The Duke And The Composer, tells the story of a Renaissance Duke and the composer who worked for him - and how their volatile relationship would create one of the most revolutionary and beautiful collections of music ever published: The Monteverdi Vespers of 1610.
The programme is presented by Shakespearean actor and former St Paul’s Cathedral chorister Simon Russell Beale, whose enthusiasm for choral music is matched by his gift for storytelling. Together with conductor Harry Christophers and his virtuoso choir The Sixteen, Simon explores this major turning point in Western Classical Music for the television audience.
Produced by BBC Music TV
Reginald D Hunter’s Songs Of The South
Reginald D Hunter’s Songs Of The South is a three-part BBC Two series which sees American comedian Reginald turn his unique wit on the world and music in which he grew up as he embarks upon an epic road trip from North Carolina to New Orleans through 150 years of American popular song.
From banjo-toting hillbilly to dirty southern hip-hop via minstrelsy and modern rock, Reg will take a picturesque journey into a great yet terrifying crucible of music, an extraordinary landscape and the bloody birthplace of America itself.
Combining specially shot performances from leading southern musicians, choice encounters and Reg’s sharp wit, Reginald D Hunter’s Songs Of The South will be a stylish evocation of the lands, people and songs of a musical Egypt and the culture that it has left behind.
February 2015, BBC Two
CBeebies Elves And The Shoemaker
The collaboration between CBeebies and Northern Ballet continues for a third year with CBeebies Elves And The Shoemaker. Presented by Mr Bloom (Ben Faulks) with performers from Northern Ballet and children from local schools, it will be recorded at West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds.
Due to be shown on CBeebies over Easter, the story will be brought to life through a combination of narrative and dance as the audience at home are encouraged to join in with the moves. Join Mr Bloom and the children for an exciting adventure as they try to solve a magical mystery - who is helping the Village Shoemaker make magical dancing shoes?