BBC Radio 3 is to make a return to broadcasting live classical concerts – its first since lockdown began – with a daily lunchtime concert series from an empty Wigmore Hall throughout June. Concerts will also be broadcast live in HD video on Wigmore Hall's website.
The series begins on June 1, at 1pm, with a recital from the multiple Gramophone Award-winning pianist (and our May issue cover artist) Stephen Hough. Thereafter, every weekday throughout June, the series will be broadcast in BBC Radio 3's Lunchtime Concert slot, with artists to be featured including fellow pianists Imogen Cooper, Benjamin Grosvenor, Paul Lewis and Angela Hewitt, soprano Lucy Crowe, countertenor Iestyn Davies, viola player Timothy Ridout, and guitarist (and Gramophone's June cover artist) Sean Shibe. Full programme details will be announced in due course, though one concert will feature Schubert's Winterreise from tenor Mark Padmore and pianist Mitsuko Uchida.
Both organisations – who already collaborate on Wigmore Hall Lunchtime Concerts – stress that government guidelines will be observed. There will be no audience present, and the broadcast team will comprise only a producer backstage, a sound engineer, one presenter inside the auditorium and one member of Wigmore Hall staff on duty – all keeping two metres distance from each other.
'Live music is in the DNA of Radio 3 and so its loss is felt by all, not just at home but also in the music industry,' said Alan Davey, BBC Radio 3 Controller. 'It is therefore a great joy to restore this service to the nation whilst also ensuring maximum health and safety. My thanks to Wigmore Hall for once again collaborating with us on the venture and also to the performers for helping us to bring live classical music back into the nation's homes during quarantine.'
'The health and safety of our staff and the musicians will always be Wigmore Hall's foremost concern,' added Wigmore Hall Director John Gilhooly. 'I am very grateful to BBC Radio 3 and every musician taking part in these concerts, under the safest possible conditions. Through this series we bring great live music from our acclaimed acoustic to every corner of the nation and overseas.'