Monday, October 23, 2006


BBC Radio's 'listen again' facility has undoubtedly changed the way I surf the ether music-wise for good - as has internet broadcasting per se. Searching out what I want to hear when I want to hear it becomes a much less hit-and-miss affair. And sometimes, just to make darned sure I'm not regressing into "I know what I like because I like what I know", I treat it as a random jukebox. Wonderful. This evening, in between two writing assignments, I've been taking in some of the lastest Mixing It (Radio 3), which I rarely hear at its scheduled hour. In particular, I enjoyed Bass Clef's album, A Smile Is A Curve That Straightens Most Things. You can dig it out on Boomkat. The links, for those who might want to dip in, are: Tracks on BASS CLEF - A Smile Is A Curve That Straightens Most Things: - Cannot Be Straightened; Opera; Eight Zero Eight. And while we're about it, here are those programme features from The Glorious Third as we celabrate (see below) it's sixtieth annus glorious in 2006... Classical (62); Experimental (7); Folk & Country (5); Jazz (9); Music Documentaries (1); World (6). What was that rubbish from the"not enough classical any more" brigade?

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Tuesday, October 10, 2006


BBC Radio 3 broadcasts Listen Up!, a 2006 festival featuring more than 30 British orchestras and more than 20 living British composers. There's Free Thinking, the festival of ideas and debate taking place in Liverpool - and R3's role as commissioner of new music and writing is celebrated across thw schedule with new works by Jonathan Dove, Michael Zev Gordon, Judith Bingham, Howard Barker and Simon Armitage.

Listen Up! 2006 plays an integral part in the BBC Radio 3 60th anniversary celebrations. In October, Choral Evensong celebrates 80 years of live broadcasts and the London Jazz Festival returns to Radio 3 in November 2006. Not forgetting Hans Werner Henze at 80, of course.

The Third Programme was launched in 1946 and became BBC Radio 3 on 30 September 1967.
Live music, new work, drama and arts debate have always formed the backbone of the station's programming and the current schedule builds on this heritage.

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Thursday, October 05, 2006


I listen to BBC Radio 3 far less than I should do these days, and largely on the internet (because of poor equipment and reception problems here in Exeter). But I still regard it as, without doubt, the most important musical tutor in my life – I’ve revelled in everything from opera at the Grand Met and the Proms seasons right through to world music, jazz, contemporary, Night Waves, Mixing It (of course) Late Junction, Michael Berkeley’s Private Passions. The list is without end. So I have particular reason to rejoice that, as of 28 September 2006, R3 has been around for sixty glorious years – starting off as the Third Programme I remember reverentially from my childhood.

For me the two defining directors have been Roger Wright (1998–present), who has had the courage to change, and Sir John Drummond (1987–92) who stuck by contemporary music. I also ought to be especially grateful for the often-forgotten Stephen Hearst (1972–78), who, as well as expanding and developing my classical tastes, went with the late Derek Jewell’s Sounds Interesting. It was this programme that enabled me to sample art rock, fusion, folk and a range of ‘popular’ music with serious consequences. The programme for the anniversary celebrations is typically imaginative – and, contrary to Radio 3’s dreary ‘traditionalist’ critics, who put their own ossified preferences above musical adventure, it’s exactly where the station should be right now.

Very much a minority experience, but a veritable life-support machine for vital aural culture.

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