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Alan Davey to take over at Radio 3 from January 2015

26 September 2014, Alex Stevens

Arts Council England chief executive Alan Davey is to become controller of Radio 3 from January 2015, following the departure of Roger Wright earlier this year.

The announcement comes six months and two days after the news that Wright was leaving the BBC to lead Aldeburgh Music. Although Wright was both controller of the station and director of the Proms, the BBC confirmed that a separate appointment will be made after Davey takes up his new role, when a recruitment process will begin. Edward Blakeman will continue as acting director of the Proms until that time. 

Press reports had suggested that Davey had been approached by headhunters and was being considered as a serious candidate by the BBC, despite his apparent lack of experience in traditional broadcasting or, given that his new role oversees the BBC Performing Groups, in production. 

However, Susanna Eastburn, chief executive of contemporary music organisation Sound and Music and who worked with Davey at ACE as director, music from 2008-12, called Davey ‘a great appointment’. 

‘Alan has the strategic skills that the post will require in order for Radio 3 to thrive, at a time when the disruption of technology is not only opening up a new landscape for broadcasting but also revealing a growing public appetite for new and unusual musical experiences. He also brings an extensive (and fascinatingly eclectic) love and knowledge of music.’ 

Before Arts Council England, which he joined in November 2007, Davey was a civil servant at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, where he had been director for culture, head of the arts division and also worked on setting up the National Lottery. He has also worked at the Department of Health. 

Davey will now await the appointment of a 'direct report' (someone to report directly to Davey) to take charge of the Proms, a prestigious role which will be much coveted by arts administrators in the UK and internationally as well as, perhaps, within the BBC. This year’s festival was led by Edward Blakeman as editor and acting director, a role which he will continue to hold until a permanent appointment is made. 

In statements, Davey said it was ‘an honour to be asked to lead this wonderful institution and to renew it for the digital age’, BBC director-general Tony Hall hailed Davey’s ‘formidable track record in the arts’, and director of BBC radio Helen Boaden said Davey would be ‘building on [Radio 3’s] huge strengths and invigorating it with fresh perspective’. 

Sir Peter Bazalgette ‒ the chair of Arts Council England whose appointment by then culture secretary Jeremy Hunt in February 2013 broke Davey’s working relationship with Dame Liz Forgan ‒ said: ‘Alan has been a brilliant Chief Executive of the Arts Council, not least because he has an abiding passion for and knowledge of music. The BBC and Radio 3 is fortunate to get him.’ 

A BBC spokesperson confirmed: ‘The controller of BBC Radio 3 and director of the BBC Proms roles will be split, with the Proms role directing in to the controller of BBC Radio 3. Recruitment for the role will begin when Alan is in post, [and] Edward Blakeman will continue in his role as Acting Director of the Proms in the meantime.’

MMF awards 70 scholarships

24 September 2014

70 talented young Londoners will attend a ceremony today at the Mayor’s City Hall, where they will be awarded four-year music scholarships worth £280,000.

The Mayor’s Music Fund was established in 2011 to help gifted children from disadvantaged families fulfil their musical potential. Each Mayor’s Music Scholar receives over two hours of tuition, music-making and other developmental activities each week, as well as opportunities to perform at and attend live music events. Each child is also matched up with their own mentor, who is the link between the child, their parent, their school, the local music service and the Fund. There are currently 300 primary school children benefitting from the scheme.

This morning’s ceremony has been sponsored by Trinity College London, with concert pianist James Rhodes presenting the awards.

NYJO and BuJazzO celebrate 100 years of jazz

24 September 2014

This autumn two of the leading jazz youth orchestras in Europe – NYJO, from the UK, and BuJazzO, from Germany – are coming together to celebrate 100 years of jazz history. This ground-breaking collaboration also marks the centenary of the start of World War One.

Jazz officially started with the publication of St Louis Blues in 1914. The two youth orchestras got together to form a double big band, performing music from 1914 up until the present day. Audiences in Heek, Cologne and Hamburg enjoyed roof-raising concerts from the ensemble last week, and the English leg of the tour will feature performances at Leeds College of Music and the EFG London Jazz Festival this November.

NYJO music director Mark Armstrong said: ‘We’ve just got back tired but happy from an incredible week in Germany working with our counterparts BuJazzO. There was a genuine meeting of musical minds between the two groups, with both bands playing with great commitment and feel for the varied history of the music whilst demonstrating a shared sense of adventure! We showcased charts from St Louis Blues to Julian Siegel’s MBadgers by way of I Got Rhythm and Battle Royale, both arranged for double big band. We’ve arrived back in the UK invigorated and excited for BuJazzO’s visit in November where we look forward to giving audiences in Leeds and London this rare treat and further strengthening our bonds through this special music.’

Ten-year-old gains distinction in ABRSM diploma

23 September 2014

At ten years old, James Chen has become one of the youngest musicians in the world to be awarded a performance diploma from the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music (DipABRSM).

James, from Stockton-on-Tees, started learning the piano four years ago. He achieved grade 8 with distinction eight months ago, and has just started at Chetham’s School of Music. In addition to his accomplishments on the piano, James also gained 144 for his grade 5 violin earlier this year.

James’s piano teacher, Barbara White, commented: ‘I am thrilled to witness his latest remarkable achievement. James clearly has a wonderful gift for classical music and immerses himself in his performances. He is also such a determined young person, with a real passion to learn. Despite his high level of achievement on the piano, violin and academically across the board, he is very polite and humble and never feels the needs to boast about anything. I am sure his attitude will take him very far.’

Ukelele group strikes chord with audience

22 September 2014

As they progress from strength to strength, the Grantham U3A Ukelele Group are proving that you’re never too old to learn a new skill.

The group, led by SoundLINCS music facilitator Jonny Gillard, have begun to take part in concerts and events at care homes, fundraisers and even weddings. Videos of the group playing two of their favourite repertoire pieces, Bill Haley’s ‘Rock Around the Clock’ and Tom Jones’ ‘Delilah’, have been uploaded to YouTube and are receiving great feedback online.

‘The progress and increased confidence of the group has been brilliant,’ said Jonny Gillard. ‘Their enthusiasm to learn and play is infectious with nobody ever missing a session!’

Research suggests that as we grow older, active music-making can enhance social cohesion, increase personal development and help contribute to all-round wellbeing.  If you’re interested in setting up a similar project, contact SoundLINCS.


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