Newly-discovered music by Renaissance composer Maddalena Casulana to premiere on BBC Radio 3 this International Women’s Day

BBC Radio 3 celebrates International Women’s Day 2022 with the broadcast premiere of Maddalena Casulana’s 1583 First Book of five-voice madrigals. Casulana’s piece will be performed in full for the first time in 400 years by vocal ensemble Fieri Consort at London’s King’s Place, and broadcast live for the first time ever on BBC Radio 3 on Tuesday 8 March.

The Alto part of Casulana’s book disappeared after World War II from a music collection in Poland, and was lost for decades, making any performance impossible. It was only recently traced back to a library in Moscow by musicologist Professor Laurie Stras. A special episode of Music Matters focuses on the discovery, in a programme also featuring an exploration of women pioneers of classical music record production (first broadcast on Saturday 5 March and repeated on Monday 7 March).

The premiere of Casulana’s five-voice madrigals is part of the station’s International Women’s Day celebrations, focusing on female composers and performers past and present, and featuring speech programmes exploring and debating issues from a female perspective. As in previous years on International Women’s Day, all the music broadcast on BBC Radio 3 for 24 hours will be by female composers, with all the live music programmes produced by female producers.

Complementing the station’s on-air programme, four behind-the-scenes films will be available on BBC Homepage and BBC Radio 3 social media channels, featuring female engineers, sound mixers and studio managers who work on the stations’ programmes, where they give an overview of their jobs and tips for anyone looking for a career in these fields.

Highlights on BBC Radio 3’s celebrations of International Women’s Day 2022 include:

Composer of the Week delving into the life, music and legacy of pianist and composer Henriëtte Bosmans across five programmes, including UK premieres of three specially-recorded works: Cello Concerto No.2; Danse Orientale (from Two Recital Pieces); and Violin Sonata (Monday 7 to Friday 11 March);

  • BBC Singers with conductor Grace Rossiter presenting a live lunchtime concert from London’s Temple Church, introduced by Katie Derham, with a programme of music by leading women composers of the 21st century, featuring four world premieres (including a special BBC commission for International Women’s Day by Melissa Dunphy) and music for organ and choir performed by the ensemble with organist and broadcaster Anna Lapwood (Radio 3 Lunchtime Concert, Tuesday 8 March);
  • Saxophonist and broadcaster Jess Gillam joined by trailblazing composer and performer Anna Meredith to share their choices of music by written or performed by women (This Classical Life, first broadcast on Saturday 5 March and on BBC Sounds);
  • Pop sensation Sigrid is on Classical Fix – where each week host Linton Stephens mixes a bespoke playlist for his guest, who then joins him to share their impressions of their new classical discoveries. In this special episode, Linton presents an all-female playlist (Monday 7 March);
  • Special editions of Words and Music (Sunday 6 March) and Free Thinking (Tuesday 8 March) focusing on the relationship between sisters, with Pippa Nixon and Sarah Amankwah reading contributions from Wordsworth and Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Arifa Akbar’s Consumed and CS Lewis’s Narnia among others, and contributions from The Unthank sisters, writers Lucy Holland and Oyinkan Braithwaite and historian and feminist activist Sally Alexander – respectively;
  • Alt-popstar BabyQueen exploring the women composers of the gaming world in a special episode of Gameplay (first broadcast on Saturday 5 March and on BBC Sounds).

Through the Night, Breakfast, Essential Classics, Afternoon Concert and In Tune also join the celebration on Tuesday 8 March.

Alan Davey, BBC Radio 3 Controller, says: “BBC Radio 3 broadcasts music by female composers all year-round. We pride ourselves with supporting research on unjustly overlooked figures and presenting forgotten pieces on our airwaves, as well as premiering new music, as part of our regular schedules. International Women’s Day is a cherished opportunity every year for us to put a spotlight on the invaluable artistic contribution women across all centuries and genres have given to music. It offers the chance to delight our audiences with unknown gems, new pieces, and familiar repertoire, paired with discussions focusing on arts, history, lifestyle – all with a female perspective. We hope that listeners can enjoy this week of special programming – there is something for everyone!”

Olwen Fisher, Lead Producer of International Women’s Day on BBC Radio 3, says:I’m thrilled to be leading BBC Radio 3’s annual celebration of female creativity once again. As Alan says, we play music by women every day of the year, but it’s always special to devote this day to showcasing inspirational women and to turn so much of the surrounding schedule over to related themes. This year we are delighted to present the extraordinary rediscovery of Casulana’s music alongside several world premieres and the International Women’s Day commission as part of our two live concerts plus for the first time we take you backstage to explore the work our female sound engineers do to bring the music to your homes. It’s. It’s always a joy to find new ways to mark the day on BBC Radio 3.”

All the programmes as part of BBC Radio 3’s International Women’s Day celebration will be available to listen to on BBC Sounds.