Ralph Fiennes

BBC Arts has announced a range of new commissions for the Autumn in Sunday Night Performances on BBC Four: the home of performance on the BBC. Sunday Night Performances showcase some of the best of the UK’s dance, theatre, music and spoken word in specially made films for television every week of the year.

Suzy Klein, Head of Arts & Classical Music TV at the BBC said: “We are immensely proud of the Sunday Night Performance programme since its inception in March of this year, and audiences have enjoyed some of very best that Britain’s cultural powerhouses have to offer. I am delighted to continue to champion and support the performing arts across the UK, and showcase great performances across theatre, classical music, jazz, dance and spoken word, every Sunday night throughout the year. As people across the country face tough choices around their finances, we want to bring them the best of British performance from around the UK – giving audiences the best seat in the house, for free.”

Highlights of the Autumn include:

  • Ralph Fiennes performing T.S. Eliot’s poetic masterpiece Four Quartets, directed by Sophie Fiennes
  • The finals of BBC Young Musician of the Year and BBC Young Jazz Musician
  • A range of dance performances including two performances from Ballet Black and Carlos Acosta’s Don Quixote from Birmingham Royal Ballet
  • A new adaptation of an outstanding novel in The Read, with Mark Benton reading Sid Chaplin’s Day of the Sardine
  • New classical music performances including an Inside Classical with the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Chineke! playing music by Samuel Coleridge-Taylor and Fela Sowande

In October on BBC Four and iPlayer, Ralph Fiennes’ exquisite performance of T.S. Eliot’s poetic masterpiece Four Quartets is translated from stage to screen by director Sophie Fiennes. Early in the Covid pandemic, Fiennes set himself the challenge of committing Four Quartets to memory. Written by Eliot in the shadow of the Second World War, the poem is a searching examination of who – and what – we are. Four Quartets offers four interwoven meditations on the nature of time, faith and the quest for spiritual enlightenment in one of the poet’s final great works and the questions, imagery and emotions it produces still bear powerful relevance today.

The search is on for the next BBC Young Musician. The five Category Finals, filmed at Saffron Hall in Essex, saw some of the best young classical talent from across the UK compete to win a place in the competition’s Grand Final. Just one winner in each category – Strings, Woodwind, Brass, Percussion and Keyboard – will have the opportunity to perform a full concerto with the BBC Philharmonic and conductor Mark Wigglesworth in Manchester’s Bridgewater Hall. Presented by Jess Gillam and Alexis Ffrench, highlights from each Category Final will be broadcast every weeknight, starting on Monday 3rd October on with the Grand Final broadcast in full on Sunday 9th October.

BBC Young Jazz Musician reaches its final stage as five exceptional young jazz musicians perform at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London. Performing with the competition’s house band in front of a panel of leading jazz experts they compete for the title BBC Young Jazz Musician 2022. The Final will air on Sunday 20th November.

Award-winning dance company Ballet Black present two performances full of lyrical contrast and beautiful movement with choreographer William Tuckett’s Then Or Now, which blends classical ballet, music and the poetry of Adrienne Rich and Mthuthuzeli November’s The Waiting Game, an exciting and energetic work about the meaning of life, infused with a dynamic soundtrack featuring the company dancers’ voices.

The BBC will broadcast a range of projects over the coming year from Birmingham arts companies in partnership with The Space. These include Birmingham Rep’s production of Tartuffe, originally produced by the Royal Shakespeare Company and written by BAFTA and Emmy Award-winning writers, Anil Gupta and Richard Pinto (The Office, Goodness Gracious Me, The Kumars at No.42, Citizen Khan). Tartuffe has the gift of the gab. A spirituality. A certain aura about him, that comes only when you claim to have Allah on your side, hundreds of Twitter followers and access to the family’s bank account. Eventually, the lies and deceit unfold in this wickedly funny Brummie comedy about faith, family and faking it. Directed by Commonwealth Games Opening Ceremony Director and Rep Associate Director Iqbal Khan (East is East).

The Space partnership also features a new production created especially for Birmingham Royal Ballet by Carlos Acosta: Don Quixote introduces us to Cervantes’ famous knight himself, lovers Kitri and Basilio, and a host of supporting characters. As the Don sets out on a quest to track down his true love, with his loyal friend and servant Sancho Panza at his side, he finds himself embroiled in an unlikely adventure of love and dreams.

The Read is a series of creative performance readings of iconic British novels, directed by exciting emerging talent. In this, the third of the series, Mark Benton performs The Day of the Sardine written by Sid Chaplin. Set in a working-class community in Newcastle upon Tyne at the very beginning of the 1960s, Day of the Sardine is a powerful novel of disaffection and charts a young man’s uneasy passage into adulthood. Harsh and at times comic, Arthur Haggerston’s story takes place against the background of a young workforce absorbed into tedious, repressive employment where the only outlets come through street violence and gang warfare. As Arthur reflects back on his search for a moral framework within the anarchy of modern society, he speaks for all of us, poetically and passionately, as truly now as he did almost half-a-century ago.

Inside Classical, a series of specially-filmed performances from the BBC’s Orchestras, continues with Inside Classical: A Birmingham Celebration. Featuring more than 100 musicians, Inside Classical: A Birmingham Celebrationis a celebration of Birmingham’s music and spoken word scene and sees some of the most exciting talent from the city partnered with the BBC Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Principal Guest Conductor Dalia Stasevska. Featuring brand new arrangements and orchestrations from Jules Buckley alongside compositions from the likes of Black Voices, Casey Bailey and Sanity, plus other invited guest artists.

Also filmed in Birmingham, a special concert from Birmingham Town Hall featuring Chineke! Orchestra, founded in 2015 by the double bass player Chi-chi Nwanoku, providing opportunities for Black and ethnically diverse classical musicians in the UK and Europe. This concert features the work of Nigerian musician Fela Sowande, 5 Movement African Suite. This is followed by two pieces composed by the black British composer Samuel Coleridge Taylor – Novoletten No. 3 & 4, a brilliantly crafted set of short movements for strings, tambourine, and triangle.

Other highlights include the second of the BBC’s broadcasts from London’s Shakespeare’s Globe from its twenty five-year history. Twelfth Night, Shakespeare’s comedy of mistaken identity, music and the madness of love is directed by Globe Associate Artistic Director Sean Holmes and Artistic Director Michelle Terry plays Viola. And Birmingham Rep’s acclaimed production of Olivier Award-winning comedy The Play What I Wrote, starring Tom Hiddleston specially filmed at the Theatre Royal Bath.