Up Late


In early March I attended my last live performance, which was a BBC Monday Lunchtime from the Wigmore Hall, and remarked on this blog that it would be wrong to take such an unassuming but excellent series for granted. Since then (thank you, international pandemic) these still-continuing concerts, at present also video-streamed, have become one of the most notable media events on the planet. So, I wonder if I can now put in a word for another often overlooked Radio 3 broadcast, and that is the New Music Show.

It’s understandable of course to neglect a programme that begins at 10pm on a Saturday night and ends just as Sunday morning is breaking. But nowadays we have BBCSounds to help us with that; in the days before digital, or even cassettes, the time slot was much more of a problem. I estimate that I’ve been occasionally listening to this programme (which began in 1965) for just over fifty years, in its former guise as Music In Our Time and then Hear And Now. My own very first recordings and broadcasts happened on MIOT, under its legendary producer Veronica Slater.

I have to confess that my curiosity last weekend was provoked by hearing that I myself was going to be on the programme; in an interview recorded in November with Rob Worby, which I’d found very interesting to do at the time. But I vowed anyway to listen to every minute of the two hour playlist, genially presented by Tom Service. The variety of musical style just amazed me (including for instance a march and a folksong arrangement by Helmut Lachenmann, in whatever sense it was meant); that’s a good development for new music since 1965. By the way, you need to look the playlist up online; the listings in Radio Times and other print have become uselessly Gnomic where this programme’s extensive and detailed output is concerned.

Pictured: New Music Show often concludes with the presenters saying “well, it’s getting towards midnight…” (this photo taken at Spitalfields Festival’s memorable Schumann Street, in 2017.)

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JUDITH WEIR

Composer

© Judith Weir, 2020