The BBC’s music plans for the Coronavirus lockdown serve only to expose the derelicition of classical music on TV and the loss of imagination on Radio 3. Very little in the plans announced yesterday is original, exciting or in any way unexpected.
– A European radio moment with Max Richter’s Sleep – an eight hour ‘lullaby for a frenetic world’ . Literally, a yawn
– The virtual choir – BBC Four to broadcast the first ever TV concert where none of the participants will meet. This is going on all over social media, possibly with higher production standards.
– Home Sessions – Sheku Kanneh-Mason, Andreas Scholl, Mahan Esfahani, Isata Kanneh-Mason, Ksenija Sidorova, Craig Ogden, Olivia Chaney, and others will bring home performances to Radio 3 audiences. Most are doing so already on their social media.
– Postcards From Composers – contemporary composers to write musical messages to listeners at home on BBC Radio 3. Ahem
– BBC Young Musician returns – one of the oldest musical talent competitions is to return to BBC Four and BBC Radio 3 celebrating the best of British talent with full broadcasts of the category finals of this world famous young talent competition. These are the category finals that the BBC has failed to broadcast live in recent years. This particular set was recorded just before the lockdown and is still unseen.
– Classical Companion – a collection of online gems from the archive including mixes, collections, quizzes, essential daily symphonies and podcasts. So what’s new?
– BBC Orchestras and Choirs to record ensemble and solo works remotely for Afternoon Concert. As above.
No new documentaries. No treasures from the archives. No interaction with users. That’s how far BBCTV and Radio3 have fallen.
Now spare a thought for the Controllers who are having to decide, practically from one day to the next, whether the Proms will go ahead and, if (as seems likely) not, what to do with the BBC orchestras and choruses for the duration of plague time.
I am not privy to these discussions and will not speculate on the outcome. I am a lifelong supporter of public service broadcasting and believe the BBC needs all the help it can get at the moment.
However, what we have here is an institutional collapse of emergency planning, leadership and creativity.
The BBC has failed the nation on the classical music front.