Just in: BBC R3 presenter is hired by NY’s WQXR

Just in: BBC R3 presenter is hired by NY’s WQXR


norman lebrecht

May 31, 2018

Clemency Burton-Hill, a  BBC radio and TV presenter, is to be Creative Director, Music & Arts, at the New York classical station WQXR.


“I am absolutely delighted to be joining New York Public Radio as its first Creative Director, Music & Arts,” said Burton-Hill. “As a broadcaster, writer, musician and producer, I am committed to bringing the joys of classical music and the arts to as wide and diverse an audience as possible. I have long admired the work of WQXR for its shared ambition, and it will be a privilege to help lead the creative direction of an organization that is already a byword for world-class broadcasting excellence. Digital platforms are evolving alongside a renewed interest in the live experience. I believe we have an opportunity – and an obligation – to cultivate and engage new audiences through inventive programming that not only supports our mission, but champions the artists and institutions that help bring the world’s greatest music alive. I very much look forward to joining Shannon and her outstanding team at WQXR and returning to New York, my favorite city on earth.”

The Olympian list of her accomplishments in the press release speaks for itself:

Burton-Hill has been one of the UK’s most prominent arts and music broadcasters for the past decade. As the host of BBC Radio 3’s Breakfast Show, she helped to welcome a new audience to classical music, building on her own deep love of the art form and her background as an award-winning violinist. She began her broadcasting career in 2008 as a television presenter on the BBC Proms and has since worked on many prestigious music and arts programs including the Leeds International Piano Competition and BBC Young Musician of the Year. In 2009, she began working on Radio 3, where she has presented a wide range of other programs for the network, including live concerts such as the Last Night of the Proms, a weekly broadcast from Wigmore Hall, and the New Generation Artists strand.  Since 2015 she has hosted the live global cinema relays from the Royal Opera House.  Burton-Hill is a co-founder of the multi-award-winning chamber ensemble Aurora Orchestra, and a co-creator and co-curator, with conductor Daniel Harding, of the Interplay festival in Stockholm, which brought together classical music with diverse other subjects including particle physics, neuroscience, mathematics, food and art history.

Outside of broadcasting, Burton-Hill is an esteemed journalist and writer. Her work has been published in every major UK publication, including The Economist, the Financial Times, the Guardian, Observer and Independent, and has included profiles of writers, musicians and other luminaries of the arts. She has been the music columnist for BBC Culture since 2013 and chief interviewer for BBC Music Magazine since 2017. The author of two novels, both published by Headline, in October she published her first non-fiction book, Year of Wonder: Classical Music for Every Day, which suggests a piece of music for each day of the year with engaging background and context. With its accompanying playlists published on Spotify and Apple Music, it has been a bestseller in the UK, and rights have been sold everywhere from China to Europe. The US edition will be published in November by HarperCollins.



  • Rob says:

    She acted in an episode of Midsummer Murders.

  • Barry Guerrero says:

    Who would kill her! – I mean, did she kill anyone?

  • boringfileclerk says:

    I have my doubts, but we’ll know if she’s worth the hype soon enough.

  • Sharon says:

    I have read on this blog that WQXR merged with WNYC FM which used to be a New York City government station and at least until fairly recently received some government money. What is WQXR’s status now? Is it non profit? Do they have commercials for profit making enterprises? Does it present NPR programs?

    • Michael Comins says:

      WQXR is listener-supported with twice-yearly fund drives. Its sister station WNYC carries NPR programs.

  • Deborah Mawer says:

    She is Humphrey Burton’s daughter

  • Mark Mortimer says:

    She is the daughter of my late father’s dear friend Humphrey Burton. Best wishes to her in her new role.

  • SVM says:

    Good riddance! Burton-Hill has ruined the R3 I used to enjoy a decade ago (but to which I hardly listen now). I fear the BBC will just install another vacuous gossip to present Burton-Hill’s former programmes, but there may just be a glimmer of hope (although I share Mark Doran’s pessimism about R3 and the BBC generally).

    • Christopher Clift says:

      I have to agree to a large extent with you SVM, though on a more general note, it occurs to me that some BBC programmes have turned into request type programmes, such as the ones hosted by the likes of Petroc Trelawney in the morning, They (the presenters) are constantly thanking ‘Bill Blogs’ or ‘Mary so-and-so’ ‘for your suggestion’ of the piece just broadcast. It’s almost as if the lunatics are taking over the asylum.

    • David Thorne says:

      Hardly fair about Radio 3. When I listen to my tapes made over the past forty years, I’m simply aware that we have to accept change. Remember that anyone under 75 can listen to live music rather than CDs for around £13.00 a month. I’ think you might be better criticising Radio 2’s new bland output or even question the new look Daily Service.

    • Mark says:

      While I try not to grade on a curve, I think you’d be more grateful for BBC Radio 3 if you had to put up with the tripe that now passes for most classical-radio programming in the US. Speaking only for myself, of course, thank heaven for the Internet! At least the presenters on R3 are allowed to make sensible transitions: over here we seem to flow (ha) from Shostakovich to Vivaldi to Copland to Chopin to Sibelius to Albinoni, etc., with no explanation, preparation, or apparent sensitivity to stylistic clashes.

      • Barry Guerrero says:

        Even “Symphony Hall” on Sirius XM satellite radio can be truly yawn inducing. I just wait for the Philadelphia Orchestra broadcasts to come on.

        • Barry Guerrero says:

          I was hoping that KUSC’s ownership of KDFC would ‘smart up’ KDFC. Instead, KDFC has influenced KUSC in becoming ‘dumbed down’. Un-listenable.

    • Will Duffay says:

      Crumbs, that’s rather extreme. Clemency has single-handedly ‘ruined’ Radio 3? I think you’re talking rubbish. R3 may have changed, but that’s hardly her fault.

  • Sabine says:

    I think her writing and presenting and her ideas are poor. Typical example of someone where her background and family has elevated her to positions she shouldn’t cover. But thats life I assume.I am somewhat relieved she is moving from the UK media scene…

  • John Evans says:

    Say what you like but this woman has lived

    I grew up with R3 and its approach was very edifying but times change. I listen to WQXR and enjoy the variety and creativity of programming.

  • Judy Mackerras says:

    Hopefully this news means that the ROH will no longer be engaging her to say goodnight to everyone at the end of one of their cinema broadcasts. Spoils the whole experience for me. I want to be left with the music ringing in my ears and my emotions stirred. I don’t want to leave the cinema annoyed because the spell has been broken. They don’t send someone on to the stage at the end of a performance in the auditorium to say goodnight so why OH WHY do they think it appropriate in the cinema.