BBC starts cuts at concert orchestra

We reported last week that the BBC is planning to abolish the BBC Concert Orchestra as part of £475 million in cuts that are needed, it says, to provide free TV to the over-75s.

The process appears to have begun. A leak to the Sunday Times today says the BBC CO is being withheld from live performances on Friday Night is Music Night, a programme popular among older listeners. It will be replaced by ‘cheaper ensembles’.

This is part of a drip-drip process that the BBC hopes will lead to a quiet orchestra abolition.

Be prepared.

UPDATE: We have received this response from the BBC press office:

A BBC Spokesman said: ‘The portfolio of work for the BBC Concert Orchestra has a number of strands which, can and do change over time. We are increasing their workload in some areas while reducing in others – none of this calls into question the orchestra’s future. The BBC has made no decision on the free licences for over-75s and as we have said we’ll make an announcement in June. Anything beyond that is pure speculation.’

The spokesman added: ‘The BBC Concert Orchestra will still appear in Friday Night Is Music Night, it’s just the number of original programmes with the concert orchestra within that programme which will be slightly reduced.’



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    • Am I getting a different Slipped Disc from everyone else? I did not see paid advertising paid “plastered everywhere” on the site today. If the Berlioz album was selected by an advertiser and paid for, it was relatively subdued in its manner of doing so, though if it is selected by the advertiser and not the site owner, perhaps that should be more clearly acknowledged. The link to a place to source it is a bit of a giveaway, but all albums must be found somewhere.

  • What is that comma doing between “which” and “can”? Nor does a comma seem appropriate between “Music Night” and “it’s”.

  • It would be so ironic if the over-75s’ favourite orchestra were the price of keeping their free licence. That said, I think too much is being read into a minor schedule change.

  • If the BBC Concert Orchestra were axed, it would be a complete travesty to the ongoing promotion & performance of light music on the airwaves & leave a seriously depleted gap in our musical awareness to the nation as to the glories of light music as a whole. The Orchestra’s legendary flagship BBC Radio 2 popular programme, ‘Friday Night is Music Night’ is the longest ‘live’ music programme on the broadcasting networks worldwide. It’s wide ranging repertoire, ranging at ease from classical, light, folk, pop & jazz, demonstrates the expertise & versatility of this first rate Orchestra, that at sight, (usually on a single 3 hour rehearsal pre live broadcast) can turn their hand to playing almost anything on demand. No other BBC Orchestra (or any other UK Orchestra) can boast that accolade.
    The BBC Concert Orchestra should be celebrated & applauded by the corporation, & not threatened with extinction. BBC Radio 2 have been slowly reducing the output of their Radio 2 performances over the last few years, by transmitting only half a year’s worth of FNIMN broadcasts, but repeating them throughout the remaining 6 months to give the impression (falsely) that a year’s worth of broadcasts have been produced.
    If this admirable & uniquely versatile band were to be axed, the demise of light music in this country would be lost forever, as no other orchestra record, play & broadcast anything similar.
    Maybe one of the other regional BBC Orchestra’s should be axed instead, (BBC ‘Phil’ BBCNOW, BBC Scottish) as they all play the SAME classical repertoire……
    Is this plan to lose the BBCCO BBC management dictatorship to get us to ignore light music in favour of a complete classical diet??

    • As I conducted Friday Night is Music Night for over thirty years beginning with the 1000th programme in 1972 which Sydney Torch refused to conduct on musical grounds, I think we are entitled to know how the Corporation evaluates the removal of a wide repertoire splendidly played by the best broadcasting orchestra in the world .
      Is the financial saving a fair exchange ?

      Kenneth Alwyn

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