BBC Radio 3 has revealed plans to address diversity in classical music by finding and recording lost works by female composers.
The initiative comes as part of the station’s ongoing commitment to broadening its repertoire and allowing listeners access to previously unexplored work. The launch follows on from Diversity and Inclusion in Composition, the industry-wide conference BBC Radio 3 staged in October.
Together with the Arts and Humanities Research Council, BBC Wales and the BBC National Orchestra of Wales are leading the project. A seminar is set to take place in London on January 25, where academics will bring examples little-known recordings. BBC Radio 3 will select the best works, which will then be performed, recorded and played to listeners as part of the station’s daily schedule.
The station’s controller, Alan Davey said: “As a patron of the arts and a broadcaster, promoter, commissioner of live works and partner of the very fine BBC orchestras and choirs, BBC Radio 3 is uniquely placed to make a difference to this issue and to the landscape of classical music through recovering high quality works that have been unfairly forgotten through history. We hope to make this an ongoing commitment, so that we will be able to continue to connect the public with a significant body of work which has been neglected for many years, thereby rightly expanding the canon of classical music forever.”
The editor of BBC Radio 3’s Women’s Day programming, Edwina Wolstencroft added: “Through researching for both International Women’s Day and Composer of the Week, a regular daily strand which does a comprehensive exploration of composers across 5 hours in a week, we uncovered many rarely heard recorded works. However, we also discovered that there were composers it was not possible to feature because the performances or recordings to play to our listeners just didn’t exist. Research shows there are some 6000 overlooked female composers from the past and most people can only name a handful of composing women, if that."
Gary Grubb, associate director of programmes at the Arts and Humanities Research Council, said: "Arts and humanities research plays a really important role in helping us to learn the lessons of history, understand the challenges of today and equip us for the future. Working with broadcasters, such as the BBC, provides a platform for researchers to share fresh and exciting ideas that can help people navigate the complexity of the twenty-first century.”