BBC unveils classical music programme for 'virtual festival of arts'

Culture In Quarantine: BBC unveils programme of classical music as part of ‘virtual festival of the arts’ to be broadcast on TV, radio and online amid coronavirus lockdown

  • Highlights include broadcast of Max Richter’s ‘Sleep’, an 8-hour orchestral work
  • BBC said it will encourage listeners to ‘relax and sleep’ overnight on April 11-12
  • TV concert where none of the participants meet will also be shown on BBC Four
  • Alan Davey, controller of BBC Radio 3, said there will be ‘something for everyone’
  • Coronavirus symptoms: what are they and should you see a doctor?

BBC has unveiled a programme of classical music as part of its ‘virtual festival of the arts’ amid the coronavirus lockdown.

The corporation said its Culture In Quarantine will feature content across radio, TV and online while people stay at home during the outbreak.

Highlights include a broadcast of Max Richter’s Sleep – an eight-hour orchestral work described as a ‘lullaby for a frenetic world’.

Countertenor Andreas Scholl, who will be part of the Home Sessions programme, pictured performing at Park Avenue Armory in May 2016, accompanied by a harpsichord

Cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason with his sister, pianist Isata Kanneh-Mason, performing music of Beethoven in December 2019. The pair will perform as part of the Home Sessions programme

Sleep will be simulcast on Radio 3 and the European Broadcasting Union, with the BBC saying it will encourage ‘listeners all over the continent to relax, listen and sleep’ overnight on April 11-April 12.

BBC Four will show a TV concert where none of the participants will meet, with choir members instead recording their individual parts before being brought together through virtual reality technology.

As part of the Home Sessions programme, artists including Sheku Kanneh-Mason, Andreas Scholl, Mahan Esfahani, Isata Kanneh-Mason and Craig Ogden will perform on Radio 3.

The same station will be home to Postcards From Composers, which will see contemporary composers writing musical messages to listeners.

Craig Ogden, who will also perform on Radio 3, pictured during rehearsals in London in May 2011. Culture In Quarantine will be broadcast across radio, TV and online 

Mahan Esfahani, who will perform on the Home Sessions programme, pictured on the harpsichord, performing the music of Tomkins, Farnaby, Cowell, Kalabis, Bach and Reich

And BBC Orchestras and Choirs will record ensemble and solo works remotely for Afternoon Concert.

Alan Davey, controller of BBC Radio 3, said: ‘Music, and classical music in particular, is an important part of the UK’s cultural identity. It has a special power to bring people from all walks of life together.

‘Our aim is to both provide classical music programming that is a sanctuary during these difficult times as well as helping people to feel connected at a time of profound seclusion and uncertainty.

‘We also wanted to continue to support the artists who bring us so much joy as well as showcase British talent.

‘We hope to guide audiences through isolation with specially put-together classical content, be it radio, TV or online. There is something for everyone.’

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