BBC's New Classical Music Strategy: A Step Forward or a Step Backward?
March 8, 2023

Simon Webb comments on the BBC's new strategy for classical music, including a commitment to maintaining the five BBC Orchestras, to broadcasting more venues across the country and to doubling the funding for music education and training initiatives – but also the decision to disband the BBC Singers, and to reduce salaried posts across its English Orchestras by around twenty per cent: 'The BBC has been at the heart of the UK’s classical music industry for over one hundred years. In that time our mission has always remained the same: to bring the highest quality music to the widest possible audiences. It's guided our every move taking over the running of the Proms ninety-five years ago to bringing the BBC Concert Orchestra together with Stormzy latest mo for Radio 2’s Piano Room.

'In my first two months in this new role I've visited each of our orchestras and choirs, heard them rehearse, record and carry out at the highest level, workshops in schools with the BBC Singers, to recording soundtracks at BBC National Orchestra or Wales, a profoundly emotional Mahler six the BBC Scottish Symphony to a typically eclectic programme of Birtwistle, Dutilleux and Ravel at the BBC Philharmonic. 'Szymanowski’s third symphony with the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, preceded by Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante performed by two BBC New Generation Artists Johan Dalene and Tim Ridout, brought together our brilliant amateur musicians of the chorus with one of our world class orchestras and demonstrated our commitment to developing youthful talent. And every concert performance available to everyone on BBC Radio three. 'But staying true to our mission can never imply standing still. In fact, it should imply the opposite.

Portion of my role as the BBC’s Head of Orchestras and Choirs is to ensure we hold working to bring the full wt of that mission to bear on the times we live in, and hold making the changes that are needed to serve our audiences and our partners better. We also have to realize our space in the wider music ecology of the UK. These are challenging times financially, including for the BBC as a public service broadcaster as we carve out our role in a rapidly changing world. The BBC has a clear strategy, articulated as Cost for All, and we all have a responsibility to discover our way to deliver that strategy, to deliver for audiences across the UK.

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