Here’s this week’s classical radio news. It starts dour but gets better, so please keep reading.
In the United Kingdom, a retrenchment plan to pare down 15 percent of BBC radio staff will result in two divisions, administrators say: ‘pop music’ and ‘classical and speech.’ These “hubs” will constitute the framework of BBC radio following 65 immediate job cuts. The long term plan is to remove 200 positions from the service’s workforce of around 1,300 people.
The Guardian has this official quote from BBC Radio Director Helen Boaden: “BBC Radio is the envy of the world,” but “we must also be as small as we can be to meet our savings challenges and increase our agility in the digital world without losing our distinctiveness or damaging relationships with our many audiences. Reducing the division’s headcount by 15% is challenging, but shows just how hard we are working to drive efficiency in everything we do.”
Alas . . . in happier news, BBC Radio 3 is scheduling Brahms for the week of October 6 through 15. The presenters will play lots of his chamber music and the German Requiem, much of it live.
Ever since Brahms became Brahms people have been fighting over him. Was he a backwards looking reactionary who refused to acknowledge the harmonic innovations of Wagner? Or was he forward looking in different and more subtle ways? As for me, I’ve always experienced him as an ideal composer for radio. I don’t really enjoy listening to Brahm in the concert hall. So Brahms Week will be perfect for my purposes.
Meanwhile Minnesota Public Radio brings to our attention the Seattle Symphony’s recent rendition of rapper Sir Mix-A-Lot’s noted composition “Baby Got Back.” No less than Gabriel Prokofiev, the grandson of composer Sergei Prokofiev, has orchestrated the piece. As per the YouTube video below, Mr. Mix-A-Lot appeared on the stage with around 20 volunteers and everyone seems to have had quite a lot of fun.
I wonder what Brahms or Prokofiev would have thought of this scene? (I’m guessing they would have approved.) As for me, all I can say is, like, gosh.