Classical radio marathons usually take place around the holiday season, and they generally involve asking listeners to name their favorite composers. Then the station streams the top 100 picks. But on April 15, Classic FM in the United Kingdom will run a ‘thon that breaks this mold. The station will air 24 hours of performances by one of the greatest conductors of all time, Sir Neville Marriner.
Marriner is celebrating his 90th birthday on April 4. He founded The Academy of St. Martin in the Fields in 1958. It is without question one of the classiest chamber ensembles out there. Check out this spectacular Academy rendition of Beethoven’s Fifth Piano Concerto with Marriner at the podium and Murray Perahia at the keyboard. Perahia is the ensemble’s Principal Guest Conductor (as well as an awesome pianist).
The Academy was originally created to encourage a revival of Baroque music. Back then it consisted of eleven men (it has lots of women now) The group derived its name from the Church of St. Martin in the Fields of historic Trafalgar Square. It went on to become one of the most recorded chamber orchestras in the world—over 500 recordings at present.
I like this performer-thon idea. Classical music in general and classical broadcasting in particular needs to focus less on composers, and more on living musicians and their accomplishments and careers. I wish that I could listen to this wonderful celebration, but Classic FM’s licensing system does not extend beyond the United Kingdom. I’m happy for UK classical lovers, though.
BTW: there is a contest associated with this event. Classicfm.com listeners will get to vote for a piece that the Academy will perform at its May 20th concert at the Church of St. Martin. Happy 90th birthday Sir Neville!