How the BBC lost Young Musician of the Year

It’s not often we find ourselves on the same side of the barricades with Julian Lloyd Webber on two consecutive major issues but – as with the London concerthall farce – Julian has called out the BBC for losing Young Musiain of the Year in its schedules and ending live transmission of any of the rounds, even of this afternoon’s final.

It is – as we’ve pointed out – a hopeless bureaucratic cock-up, like so much else in the BBC’s classical management.

Julian goes further in a Times article. (Tonight), he writes, the BBC will screen the final of its Young Musician 2016 competition. This will probably come as news to you as the BBC has been systematically downgrading its invaluable showcase for young classical musicians to the point where it now comes and goes almost unnoticed. This is hard on the competition’s brilliant participants who nowadays find it increasingly difficult to get any exposure for their talent and for the results of their countless hours of gruelling practice.

Read on here (firewall).

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  • If JLW was hoping to improve the “exposure” of this programme, why on earth write in the Times, which is firewalled? Only a small minority can possibly read it.

    • You have to subscribe to the Times to read on line. But ‘a letter to the Times’ still carries clout for people like the BBC and then to get it printed, rather than anything in the Guardian or the Telegraph. But agree it doesn’t make it easy here to read here. Still many who buy a paper copy of the Times.

  • In truth Young Musician of the Year is now dull. It needs a complete rethink as it really is more a parade of hothoused musicians from a particular social strata.
    Personally I would ditch the series as all it does is feed the system of agents and pr merchants.
    So much better to spend the money on a set of films about young musicians.
    Let it go.

  • Let’s have some perspective here. I agree with the extract from JLW’s piece (I won’t pay for a Murdoch firewall) and with what Iain Scott says. I would also point out, though, That the BBC maintains five full time orchestras which contribute significantly to musical life outside London. I’m less certain about the distinctive role of the BBCSO; even in the Proms their role is much reduced. It’s on TV that this kind of music is absent. Time was when there were four or five orchestral concerts annually on BBC2 and an occasional more “popular” programme on BBC1. I recall that in the 80s BBC Wales TV sent a crew on tour in Germany with the then BBCWSO and Mariss Jansons. Wouldn’t happen now. So what I’m trying to say is that the exposure and encouragement of young musicians as opposed to young professionals should be part of a larger,more strategic and educative attention to music. The BBCTV authorities seem embarrassed by this kind of music.

    • I looked up each of the finalists. Two have glossy websites and Twitter profiles. One has been on Britain’s Got Talent. Which means Peter is spot on in his analysis.
      A month or so ago the RSNO did a concert called Under The Skin of Tchaikovsky . There was a guest broadcaster who was terrible. The real star was Peter Oundjian the orchestra’s Music Director. Afterwards I wondered why this was not being filmed. Actually Oundjian is a good conductor but a great engager and guide.
      The BBC should snap him up but they won’t because not only have they lost their way they also equate classical music with London and in particular the Royal Opera House.
      Across the UK there are interesting attempts to build audiences yet the BBC ignores them.
      Absurdly BBC Scotland TV ignores not just its own orchestra but Every other orchestra !
      There is next to no coverage of the arts. It’s pathetic.

    • Probably got something more to do with the Musicians Union and dictating filming fees that has priced the BBC relays on the TV out of their budget. Probably why we don’t get a lot of this on the TV, not just the Proms but opera and concerts in general that we used to get – it’s gone to the cinemas to a certain extent, and you pay dearly to see it. The promotion of classical music has changed so much and the payment of artists. The MU has permetrated into amateur making as well – minimum fees etc, etc. – many choral societies in the provinces and cities out of London, who once had an orchestra for their concerts can no longer afford them, and then you get dying audiences for a variety of reasons. Certainly the cost of the tickets in the Albert Hall this year have gone up quite a bit as I’ve just booked three concerts in September, but that has made me cut back on going to any more because my fees haven’t gone up and can’t go up as others haven’t got the money – vicious circle. As for the ones on BBC Young Musicians who couldn’t speak English properly, I can’t comment.

  • Tonight’s finalists shoot down the fixed social strata argument. Inspirationally so in fact. BBC invests considerable resources to classical music, rightly so and they do so well. This final could have been better supported by being scheduled on BBC2 but BBC4 is also free to air and will have drawn a substantial audience. But if we’re moaning about this not being on BBC1 and I suspect JLW is, then its time to get real.The BBC need applause for maintaining this tremendous televised competition and not more casual sniping.

  • It doesn’t help when the BBC inflict two idiot presenters on us who have no idea, from listening to them, how to speak basic grammatical English.

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