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Celebrating seven decades of pioneering music and culture

BBC Radio 3 and the Southbank Centre come together this autumn for Sound Frontiers – a fortnight of immersive live radio broadcasts, performances, and special events to mark the 70th anniversary of the Third Programme, the predecessor to BBC Radio 3.

Between 23 September and 7 October, the public will be able to see BBC Radio 3 presenters and producers broadcasting all day, every day, from public spaces at the Royal Festival Hall and in a special pop-up glass studio in Southbank Centre’s Terrace Café - with early morning classics in Breakfast, to thrilling live performances every afternoon on In Tune, as well as eclectic music mixes in late night programmes. Come along and be part of the audience of Jazz Now, Late Junction and World on 3 in person by booking your free tickets now. Ticket holders should arrive from 10.30pm for the 11pm start. You can book your free ticket online by selecting the event you'd like to attend below, or reserve a free ticket on the phone as well as in person (no booking fees apply).

BBC Radio 3, and before it the Third Programme, has been pioneering sound for seven decades

Complementing the station’s broadcast partnership with the Southbank's resident orchestras, the Radio 3 In Concert slot will feature live performances by the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the Philharmonia, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, the London Sinfonietta, and the Aurora Orchestra, as well as a special visit by the Lucerne Festival Orchestra.


Audiences will be also able to hear radio broadcasts including Essays by five writers including Michael Rosen, Marina Lewycka and Marina Warner who, like the Third Programme, were born in 1946. And other highlights include:

Drama on 3: The Present Experiment
70 years to the moment when the Third Programme was launched, Radio 3 broadcasts a newly written drama about the first hours of the pioneering station in 1946, with the opening scene performed live by actors in front of an audience at the South Bank Centre alongside Radio 3’s pop-up studio. This new play by Robin Brooks examines the spirit of the new Third Programme as its first night’s broadcasts begin, from adventures with Guy Burgess in the production corridors, to a verse quest haunted by Dylan Thomas and Louis MacNeice, and weird interruptions ostensibly from Soviet jamming, into an alternative universe.

Classical Yoga
Take part in free outdoor yoga, set to live classical performance presented by BBC Radio 3, with top young musicians. This peaceful yet invigorating yoga session, set on Southbank Centre’s Riverside Terrace, will feature inspiring classical music to help you connect mind and body before the busy day begins. There will be three special one-hour classes taking place across two weeks. Changing facilities and mats are not provided, so please come dressed for yoga with your own mat.

Making It: Radio Always wanted to work in radio? Glean insights from radio experts at this day-long event. Join us for a day of panel discussions, workshops and speed mentoring with prominent figures from the world of radio, who share their thoughts on making it in this challenging and exciting industry.

Essential Classics Join Sarah Walker, Friday 30th September, live in our pop-up studio at the Southbank Centre with comedian John Finnemore – best known for writing and starring in the multi-award winning Radio 4 sitcom Cabin Pressure, and for his radio sketch show John Finnemore’s Souvenir Programme. He'll be joined by a cohort of comedic friends to perform a specially written musical sketch show.

Swinging Tea Dances
Dive back into the summer of 1946 with our vintage tea dances. Sip afternoon tea and get in the swing of things with live musical entertainment on Southbank Centre's Riverside Terrace. You're invited to dress up in 1940s finery to look the part.

BBC Radio 3's 1946 Day Travel back to 1946 and celebrate the year BBC Radio 3 first took to the air as The Third Programme. Across the day, programmes including Record Review, Music Matters, Sound of Cinema and Jazz Record Requests will all broadcast as live, 1946-themed editions from Southbank Centre, giving audiences an insight into the musical and cultural landscape of 1946. Free Thinking will also don a 1946 guise and an afternoon vintage tea dance will be led by the Swing Patrol dancers with live music from the Basin Street Brawlers.

Why not come and join in the celebrations? To book your free ticket click here...