BBC Radio 3 Autumn 2022 Highlights:

  • BBC 100 – Radio 3’s Soundscape of a Century celebrates the BBC’s centenary with an eight-hour continuous broadcast, placing classical music in time with specially curated BBC archive material
  • Sylvia Plath’s rarely performed Three Women is broadcast on BBC airwaves in a new adaptation celebrating the poet’s 90th anniversary
  • Ultimate Calm with Ólafur Arnalds, a hypnotic brand-new series for BBC Radio 3 and BBC Sounds sees the award-winning musician explore how classical, contemporary and ambient music can soothe the soul
  • Four-part series The Sonic Century celebrates BBC Radio at 100 exploring the history, key figures and tools of radio broadcasting
  • Vaughan Williams Today, celebrating the composer’s 150th anniversary, continues with special episodes of: Choral Evensong, Composer of the Week, Drama on 3, Early Music Show, Opera on 3, Radio 3 Lunchtime Concert, Record Review, Sound of Cinema, Sunday Feature, The Essay and The Listening Service
  • Music Matters features Tom Service in conversation with American composer John Adams, and with Katia and Marielle Labèque
  • New Music Show threads highlights from Venice Biennale and Huddersfield Contemporary Music festival across the Autumn, and hosts the 20th Ivors Composer Awards Ceremony
  • Broadcasts of performances from Lammermuir, and Dartington Festivals, the BBC’s own orchestras and choirs and all the UK’s major symphony orchestras

Today [26/09/2022] BBC Radio 3 reveals highlights of its schedule for Autumn 2022, including a series of programmes marking 100 years of BBC radio broadcasts.

In recognition of the BBC’s centenary year and 100 years of delivering unmissable live music to audiences, this season BBC Radio 3 brings a host of extraordinary music from across the UK as well as around the world. From live broadcasts at major events such as the Venice Music Biennale, The 20th Ivors Composer Awards, the EFG London Jazz Festival and Edinburgh International Festival, through to road-trips around Northern Ireland with Music Matters, world-class performances from Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, Lammermuir, Dartington and Oxford Lieder Festival, West Cork Chamber Music Festival as well as Radio 3 in Concert live from cities across the UK, BBC Radio 3 is spotlighting for listeners the best of the season’s classical, jazz and contemporary music.

Alan Davey, Controller BBC Radio 3, says: “After a fantastic BBC Proms season, Radio 3 gets back to presenting the best of live music from around the country in its autumn season, bringing a range of amazing and inspiring concerts from some of the UK’s best festivals and venues, new Music from the Venice Biennale and great performances from our New Generation Artists, providing a way in to experiencing great performances of great music for anyone who wants it.

“We also celebrate 100 years of Broadcasting and the way Radio uniquely affects the lives of audiences, using sound to celebrate and reflect the work of radio pioneers who changed the world through the glorious multi-tonal and multi-dimensional experience radio offers. Come and join us at Radio 3 for an adventure in sound that’s like no other.”

BBC Radio 3 Autumn Season in detail

BBC Radio 3’s Soundscape of a century(Sunday 30 October) celebrates the BBC at 100 with a special eight-hour continuous soundscape, tracing the last 100 years of classical music and BBC archive. News events and unforgettable voices, BBC history and classical musical landmarks intertwine with the classical music of the time. The programme will be available to listen to in its entirety on BBC Sounds or decade-by-decade, with short introductions provided by a line-up of presenters.

Drama on 3: Ariel and Winter Trees (Sunday 23 October)marks what would have been Sylvia Plath’s 90th birthday with a brand new radio drama adaption of her work. Here, the explorations of womanhood in Plath’s collections of poems Ariel and Winter Trees are woven together in readings by Eva Feiler, Indira Varma, and Dame Siân Phillips, with all three voices uniting to recite this new BBC radio adaptation of Plath’s rarely performed poem Three Women. The readings are punctuated with authentic testimony from people who have been inspired by the American poet, with interviewees including author Sarah Corbett, playwright and novelist Lucy Caldwell, and writer and poet Michèle Roberts.

Ultimate Calm withÓlafur Arnalds (Monday 10 October) is a brand new series led by Grammy-nominated artist and producer Ólafur Arnalds, who takes us on a journey into calmness through contemporary, classical and ambient music. Exploring themes such as nature, cinema and sleep, and featuring safe havens of sound from guests including Odesza, Jon Hopkins and Isobel Waller-Bridge, the series will be broadcast at 9pm on BBC Radio 3 every Monday, and available to listen to on BBC Sounds.

Sunday Feature/Between the Ears: The Sonic Century (Sun 23 October – Sunday 13 November) celebrates 100 years since the first BBC radio broadcast with a four-part series focusing on history and key figures and tools in radio broadcasting.

A New Art

A New Art explores the life and experimental storytelling of radio pioneer Lance Sieveking, who headed the BBC’s Programme Research Department in 1928. Absorbing modernist theories and practices of the time, and influenced by the emerging field of psychoanalysis, he created innovative and experimental radio which fully exploited the creative potential of the new technology available to him.

Radio of the Future

A new radio poem from Paul Farley takes its inspiration from a 1921 essay by Russian Futurist poet Velimir Khlebnikov, The Radio of the Future, which imagined all the world-changing possibilities of this new invention.

A Life Refracted

This Between the Ears episode goes on a journey through a human lifetime (from conception and birth, to play and learning, puberty and rebellion, to love, marriage and beyond) and in parallel on a journey through the sound of life in Britain, as refracted through a century of BBC archive.

The Microphone

Oral historian Alan Dein explores the world-changing cultural history of an overlooked object: the microphone, an omnipresent but invisible element which we tend to forget, ignore or literally speak over when considering the last 100 years of recorded and broadcast sound.

Also marking BBC 100, Weekday Breakfast throughout November offers listeners an aural glimpse of the music broadcast by the BBC 100 years ago, in its broadcasting infancy, with specially-commissioned arrangements by Daniel Whibley performed by the BBC Philharmonic.

Opera: The Art of Emotion

In this new series, award-winning Soprano Nadine Benjamin delves into the emotional world of opera.

Looking across different areas of the genre, from Baroque to contemporary, Nadine relates the music to her own experiences as both a soprano and as a trained psychotherapist, providing an intimate glimpse into how opera creates an emotional response, physically and mentally.

Vaughan Williams Todaycontinues BBC Radio 3’s celebrations marking 150 years since Ralph Vaughan Williams’s birth. Special programming throughout October explores the life and music of one of most cherished figures in British classical music.

Programmes include: Afternoon Concert throughout the week of the 150th anniversary, featuring the music by the composer, his friends and those who influenced him in recordings from BBC Orchestras and performers around Europe; a series of Radio 3 Lunchtime Concerts live from the Oxford Lieder Festival, featuring some of the UK’s finest young singers in music by Vaughan Williams and his contemporaries; Drama on 3 – People Everywhere Will Singfocusing on the composer’s life after the death of first wife Adeline; Early Music Show with Hannah French exploring Vaughan Williams’s fascination with music of a bygone age; and The Essay – Vaughan Williams: Belonging, a five-part series where five writers not normally associated with classical music (Clare Shaw, Amanda Dalton, Rommi Smith, Adrian McNally, and Luke Turner) discuss a specific example of Vaughan Williams’s work to which they have a personal connection.

As part of Music Matters, Tom Service talks to Katia and Marielle Labéque about their lifelong collaboration in music, eclectic repertoire, the dynamics of their duo and composer collaborations (Saturday 5 November).

Continuing the special series of Music Matters around the UK, Kate Molleson takes a road trip to Northern Ireland to explore its rich and varied musical traditions, from fifing and drumming in Co Antrim to the music collaborations happening between young traditional musicians from South Armagh and Afghanistan (Saturday 15 October).

New Music Showpresents highlights two of Europe’s most significant new music festivals threaded through the Autumn: Tom Service visits Venice to present works from this year’s Music Biennale, focusing on how contemporary music theatre shapes new music today (Saturday 8 October); and the programme brings two editions from the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, with recorded music including performances by visiting groups such as Ensemble Intercontemporain, and Decibel Ensemble, a focus on the Swedish composer Lisa Streich and Ukrainian composers (Saturday 23 November and 3 December).

As part of Black History Month, BBC Radio 3 presents a series of programming including Sunday Feature: Frank Johnson, Queen Victoria and the Black Brass Band, which will see Uchenna Ngwe unravel the remarkable story of the European tour of the most famous African-American band leader of the early 19th century. The podcast Classical Fix with Linton Stephens will also return with another series from the 23rd October, with a special episode celebrating music written by black composersincluding works by Zenobia Powell Perry, Eleanor Alberga and H. Leslie Adams. BBC Radio 3 Breakfast will also be devoting its regular Friday Poetry slot to a celebration of Black History Month, with listeners hearing from poets including Caleb Femi, Nick Makoha, Malika Booker and Jackie Kay.

In this season’s Free Thinking, guests include Ian McEwan, Orhan Pamuk and Claude McKay as well as discussions ranging from the anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis, the end of the Ottoman Empire, the writings of the Harlem Renaissance as well as the legacy of seminal BBC television film, Ghostwatch.

Live music highlights

  • Performances by the Radio 3 New Generation Artists, including the 2022 – 2024 intake, with a chamber concert featuring pianist Eric Lu and friends at St George’s Bristol (Radio 3 in Concert on Thursday 13 October). Radio 3 in Concert showcases the BBC orchestras and choirs plus many orchestras from across the UK. This autumn features broadcasts from the Halle, London Symphony, City of Birmingham Symphony and the Royal Northern Sinfonia among others.
  • Radio 3 Lunchtime Concert features an all-star, international, line-up for the station’s flagship Monday from London’s Wigmore Hall including lyric tenor Christoph Prégardien, pianist Inon Barnatan, trombonist Christian Lindberg and pianist Steven Osborne among others. A series spotlighting pianists Simone Dinnerstein, Elisabeth Leonskaja, Bertrand Chamayou and Christian Ihle Hadland takes place at London’s LSO St Luke’s this autumn, as well as broadcasts from the Lammermuir, Dartington and West Cork Chamber Music Festivals.
  • Opera on 3 features Janáček’s The Excursions of Mr Broucek from Grange Park Opera (Saturday 8 October).

Broadcast partnerships with some of the UK’s most prestigious live music initiatives and awards include:

  • The 20th Ivors Composer Awards (formerly The British Composer Awards) broadcast on the New Music Show on Saturday 19 November.
  • The opening event, Jazz Voice, of the EFG London Jazz Festival, broadcast live from Southbank Centre featuring Guy Barker, his orchestra and special guests (Friday 11 November). Further programming includes a recorded performance from the BBC Concert Orchestra and the Marcin Wasilewski Trio paying tribute to Tomasz Stanko (Friday 18 November) and aJ to Z Late Night special live from Pizza Express Holborn (Friday 11 November).

Ahead of International Mental Health Awareness Day and in partnership Dr Sally Marlow, a mental health specialist at King’s College London and BBC Radio 3’s first ever Researcher in Residence, Music Matters presents a special programme investigating the relationship between mental health, music and the arts (Saturday 8 October). On International Mental Health Awareness Day (Monday 10 October), In Tune Mixtape showcases music mentioned in Music Matters, pulling together the music that experts have shown to have had a positive impact on mental health outcomes.

Also this Autumn:

BBC Radio 3 Breakfast Christmas Carol Competition returns: submissions are once again welcomed in a wide range of styles, from gospel to pop, rap to folk, jazz, classical and beyond. Providing this year’s carol text for adaptation into music is Scottish poet Niall Campbell with The Winter’s Brightening, inspired by the warm glow of homes at Christmas time. In charge of shortlisting the initial entries is a judging panel chaired by Choirmaster Gareth Malone.

Tearjerker returns for a third series, this time helmed by the singer and songwriter, Sigrid. Focusing on the music that moves and supports us, Sigrid dives deep into her own emotions and personal experiences with an eclectic mix including the likes of Max Richter, Mazzy Star and Alice Coltrane. Available to listen to on BBC Sounds (begins Saturday 24 September).