Radio 3 launches hunt for unsung female composers in pledge to play

first_imgFanny Mendelssohn, the German pianist and composer For centuries, they have been the unsung talents of classical composing, overshadowed by men in their time and airbrushed from history ever since.Radio 3 is now seeking out “lost” female composers, commissioning orchestras and choirs to record their work so they can be played on the radio for the first time.The BBC station will launch a nationwide search by academics for little-known women in classical music, inviting people to identify music scores and manuscripts hidden away in their archives.Next year, a shortlist will be transcribed into legible sheet music, given to the BBC’s own orchestras and choirs to broadcast.The project was inspired by a concerted effort to play more music written by women on the station, as executives aimed to redress an overwhelming historic imbalance. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. Alan Davey, controller of Radio 3 We want to change the established canonEdwina Wolstencroft “This is an industry-wide problem. It is the historical issue for all kinds of women, who have been written out and ignored.“They might have been celebrated at their time, but when they died people lost interested in them.”Research published earlier this year indicated there may be around 6,000 little-known women composers whose works lie largely forgotten.Radio 3 has previously showcased works by Clara Schumann, Fanny Mendelssohn, Germaine Tailleferre, Barbara Strozzi, Ruth Crawford Seeger Fanny Mendelssohn, the German pianist and composer Barbara Strozzi “There are a lot of works that haven’t been recorded. The score might be in a mess, there might be parts all over the place.“There’s a real job to do here researching where the best stuff is and managing to record it.“We can give listeners the chance to hear something they haven’t heard before, and in the end we’ll be giving them something better, more meaty to engage with and respond to.“They can discover things they hadn’t known, and I think our listeners like that.”  But as they tried to compile playlists, they struggled to find enough music to fulfil their own mission.This weekend, the BBC will announce it is to work with the Art and Humanities Research Council to track down surviving works by female composers in an initiative it hopes will have a “long term effect on our musical landscape and the classical canon”.Edwina Wolstencroft, Radio 3 editor, said: “We want to change the established canon. We want to say women in history have always written music and are still writing it now.“We as the BBC have obviously got resources, we’re massive cultural patrons, we’ve got our own orchestras and choir. We thought what we need to do is join up and ask our own orchestras to make recordings for us. Alan Davey, controller of Radio 3 The BBC and AHRC will now ask academics to report to a special conference on January 25th, where a shortlist of composers will be chosen for recording.Alan Davey, controller of Radio 3, said the key to the project’s success would be when the new recordings were added to the mainstream classical radio playlist, rather than being viewed as a niche subject by virtue of them being written by women.“The key has to be that we’re playing good stuff that will be of interest,” he told the Telegraph. “It will be good stuff people will want to listen to, rather than ‘women’s music’ as it were.“Looking at diversity isn’t just about box ticking. If you allow and enable the good stuff to come out, you’ve got better art to present to the public and more interested and rounded view of whatever was happening at the time. Barbara Strozzilast_img read more