Archive for roger wright

BBC Proms 2011: Highlights

Posted in BBC Radio 3, Music with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 27, 2011 by Robin Gosnall

Pianist Lang Lang, described by BBC Proms director Roger Wright as “arguably the best known classical artist in the world”, will become the first artist ever to perform at both the Proms in the Park and the Royal Albert Hall on the same night.

Classical music meets comedy at the Proms for the first time. Tim Minchin, the Australian performer, presents an evening of music and laughs with Sue Perkins, cabaret duo Kit and The Widow, pianist Danny Driver, soprano Susan Bullock and the BBC Concert Orchestra.

Ivan Fischer and the Budapest Festival Orchestra will take requests from the crowd in a highly unusual late night Prom. The audience will choose from a list of up to 300 pieces, none of which the orchestra has rehearsed.

The Spaghetti Western Orchestra will use rubber gloves and coat hangers to perform extracts from Sergio Leone film soundtracks. Roger Wright, controller of BBC Radio 3 and the director of the Proms, called them “five cracking musicians”.

Havergal Brian’s vast Gothic Symphony which has been rarely performed since it was composed in the 1920s will be played on 17 July when the 1,000 musicians required – including two orchestras and 10 choirs – are marshalled. Wright said: “Once we have fitted in the performers there will be hardly any room for the audience.”

Rossini’s William Tell is another work hardly ever performed. The opera lasts nearly five hours. Audiences will have a rare chance to hear this gripping story of Swiss nationalism conducted by the Royal Opera House music director, Antonio Pappano.

I can’t go on …

Edmund Rubbra: Idle Thoughts

Posted in BBC Radio 3, Music with tags , , , , , , , , on July 2, 2009 by Robin Gosnall


Many moons ago Roger Wright at the British Music Information Centre told me I should get into Rubbra. He told me the music was as good as Tippett’s. H’m, that’s not saying much, I thought. Sadly we don’t hear much of Rubbra on BBC Radio 3 now Roger Wright is the big cheese.

The BBC, pre-Roger Wright, used to mark Rubbra’s anniversaries with some effort; in 1976 I remember they broadcast a series of concerts of his music, specially recorded. My enthusiasm for Rubbra’s music dates from that series. He was quite often composer of the week in the 1980s.

Since his death in 1986 there has been a decrease in broadcasts of his music; but then this has also happened to Tippett since his death. Rubbra’s chamber music is frequently performed, as are the choral works. The orchestral music is never performed professionally; after that 1976 introduction, I had to wait until his 2001 centenary to hear a symphony performed by a major orchestra. They used to have the reputation of being, somehow, not concert hall friendly.

I guess Rubbra is unfashionable in a soundbite age because his music doesn’t jump out at you. Its rewards require careful listening. His chamber music would repay a Naxos series, such as they have done for Howells and Bliss.

I think the two finest Rubbra symphonies are No. 6 and No. 8. I really think that they are, along with Vaughan Williams’s Symphony No. 9, the finest symphonies written in this country, after World War II. Both have been superbly recorded by the greatly underrated Norman del Mar.

BBC Expenses

Posted in BBC Radio 3, News with tags , , , , , , on June 29, 2009 by Robin Gosnall


The BBC published on its website five years’ worth of line-by-line expenses for its executive board members after a series of freedom of information requests. The data offers an extraordinarily detailed snapshot of the inner workings of the BBC.

Expenses claims made by Mark Thompson, BBC Director General and 12 other former and present members of the BBC executive board over the past five years, totalling £363,963.83, were released as the corporation responded to calls for it to be more open and accountable.

By far the biggest claimer of overnight accommodation was BBC Radio 3 Controller Roger Wright, at £6,152.24, and he’s No. 2 overall with £16,489.38. Maybe he enjoys expensive food and staying overnight.

Did anyone hear Mark Thompson on BBC Radio 4’s Today? It struck me as an extremely poor piece of self-congratulatory double-speak on the part of the BBC. The gist of it was the interviewer challenging Thompson on his claiming for congestion charges.

Thompson explained that he claimed only for the official car that drove him to meetings and official functions (this including 23p for parking). When he drove his own family in his own car, he paid the congestion charge himself.

The interviewer continued to badger Thompson on the point, causing Thompson to justify himself by comparisons with standard (private sector) industry practice.

To me Thompson’s claims seemed entirely reasonable, supportable, and well within what any right-thinking person would expect him to claim. There was no controversy, and no need to badger him on the point, or even raise the point to begin with. Businessman claims expenses for costs incurred in business travel! Shock! Horror! Call the BBC to investigate!

Now maybe I’m just being cynical, but the interview smacked of the BBC being ostentatiously “fair” by grilling the boss over something that was actually completely unnecessary to investigate. And more than that, it was deliberately designed to allow him to highlight to listeners how fair and reasonable he is.

The BBC expenses issue is a mere sideshow compared to the more pressing questions such as why the BBC needs such a vast management structure – in the 1970s I’m sure there were relatively few “executives” and there was much more emphasis on producers and programme-makers. There certainly weren’t nonsensical departments such as BBC Vision. Linked to that are other questions such as why those “executives” and managers need to be paid such enormous salaries. Why should public sector salaries be compared with those in the commercial market and not, for instance, with other public sector salaries such as the salary of a Government minister which is many times less than that of the Director General of the BBC?

There is also the question of why the licence fee is so inequitable, why someone on jobseeker’s allowance pays more than Mark Thompson himself for the same TV licence. Needless to say, you will not get any sensible response to any of these questions from a BBC spokesman, or the BBC Trust who are supposed to safeguard the interests of licence fee payers.

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