How the BBC selects foreign talent

How the BBC selects foreign talent


norman lebrecht

May 06, 2021

Comment of the Day comes from a pseudonymous insider, responding to demands that the BBC should favour British artists in its classical music promotions. This debate does not appear on any forum linked to the BBC:

As someone who was a jury member on various BBCYM category and semi finals in the last decade, I can assure those who may wish to believe otherwise that the decisions we made were entirely our own. There was never a word in our ear from a shady BBC executive about ‘making the right (aka PC) decision’ or promoting their diversity agenda. BBCYM contestants are more diverse now than they were 30 or 40 years ago because Britain, and the intake of its specialist music schools, is more diverse. There’s nothing sinister about it. We should simply celebrate it.

As for the Radio 3 NGA scheme: the recruitment policy is more open and transparent now than it used to be (when decisions were made – brilliantly, it has to be said – by one R3 Editor). Now, suggestions for NGAs are canvassed widely from artist agents and other people with alert talent antennae. The scheme has always had wider horizons than the UK for its successive cohorts (see Janine Jansen and the Jerusalem Quartet under J as early years NGAs). It continues to present and develop a wonderfully cosmopolitan range of global talent, and helps Radio 3 continue to be the finest, broadest reaching classical music radio station in the world. If there haven’t been more ‘indigenous’ British NGAs in recent years, then I think we need to direct our concern at the nature and extent of classical music education in most of our schools (beyond the private and specialist music ones). Pipeline is the issue, not the ‘vapid internationalist approach’ of an apparently Woke BBC that our provocateur refers to.

Instead of getting angry with each other here, and going down Culture War/Punctuation rabbit holes, we should all be vigorously resisting the government’s shameful plans to slash 50% from Further Education arts funding.




  • M McAlpine says:

    Typical nonsense concerning ‘getting angry’ (which no-one is – some of us can make a point without that), and ‘Culture wars’. This is not a ‘war’. Just some of us want to see British talent promoted and encouraged by our British broadcaster.

  • christopher storey says:

    When I see the word “celebrate” I know that this is sheer humbug

  • yujafan says:

    It’s a 50% cut to Higher Education funding, not Further Education. That said, Further Education funding has been cut to the bone and the sector has been on its knees for years under successive UK Labour and Conservative governments. Whilst they propose expansion and prop up Higher Ed, those in power make token gestures to other provision. Will apprenticeships really take off? Will they ever have the status they most probably deserve and merit? Only time will tell.

  • Bostin'Symph says:

    I’m prepared to take the pseudonymous contributor at their word and to interpret “celebrate” in a positive sense.

    It’s great that new and promising talent is being promoted and supported. As I’ve said in previous posts, it would be nice if the BBC might consider a ‘New Generation Audience’ scheme, so that all this talent won’t go to waste, and the lives of younger people might be enriched by the arts.

    I have joined the lamentation regarding BBC Four, but I’ve been led to understand that, despite no new commissioning of documentaries, we may be expecting more live and full performances (theatre, classical music? I’m not sure) Let’s hope so, and let’s hope a new generation will have access to high quality culture through the BBC.