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BBC Radio 3 to record lost female composers to address classical diversity

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BBC Radio 3 announced today that it will shine a light on forgotten female composers and help to address diversity in the classical canon, by working on a research project with the Arts and Humanities Research Council in order to find and record lost compositional gems by female composers.

The project is part of the station’s ongoing commitment to giving listeners the chance to discover high quality work that has not been previously explored. It follows two successful female composers focusses for International Women’s Day, a recent industry-wide conference on BAME diversity in composition, and ongoing efforts to broaden the repertoire played day-to-day in the BBC Radio 3 schedule.

We hope to make this an ongoing commitment, so that we will be able to continue to connect the public with a significant body of work which has been neglected for many years, thereby rightly expanding the canon of classical music forever.Alan Davey, Controller BBC Radio 3

Editor of BBC Radio 3’s Composer of the Week and Women’s Day programming, Edwina Wolstencroft says: “Through researching for both International Women’s Day and Composer of the Week, a regular daily strand which does a comprehensive exploration of composers across five hours in a week, we uncovered many rarely-heard recorded works. However, we also discovered that there were composers it was not possible to feature because the performances or recordings to play to our listeners just didn’t exist. Research shows there are some 6,000 overlooked female composers from the past and most people can only name a handful of composing women, if that.”

Alan Davey, Controller BBC Radio 3, says: “As a patron of the arts and a broadcaster, promoter, commissioner of live works and partner of the very fine BBC orchestras and choirs, BBC Radio 3 is uniquely placed to make a difference to this issue and to the landscape of classical music through recovering high quality works that have been unfairly forgotten through history. We hope to make this an ongoing commitment, so that we will be able to continue to connect the public with a significant body of work which has been neglected for many years, thereby rightly expanding the canon of classical music forever.”

Gary Grubb, Associate Director of Programmes at the Arts and Humanities Research Council, says: “Arts and humanities research plays a really important role in helping us to learn the lessons of history, understand the challenges of today and equip us for the future. Working with broadcasters, such as the BBC, provides a platform for researchers to share fresh and exciting ideas that can help people navigate the complexity of the twenty-first century.”

The project is being led by BBC Wales and BBC National Orchestra of Wales in partnership with BBC Radio 3 and the Arts and Humanities Research Council who already partner with the station for New Generation Thinkers Scheme. There will be a seminar in London on January 25 where academics studying in this area will bring little-known music out of the academy and into the open.

BBC Radio 3 will select the best works and then commit to performing their music in concerts, recording new repertoire and using the daily BBC Radio 3 schedule to bring this new music to the ears of the public.

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