BBC’s spotlight on BAME composers

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BBC Radio 3 has joined forces with the Arts and Humanities Research Council to find classical music composers from diverse ethnic backgrounds from history.

They have jointly commissioned seven researchers to uncover the stories of seven composers who were marginalised because of their ethnicity, despite their influence on classical music. The research will be the basis for performances and broadcasts on BBC Radio 3 by the BBC orchestras and choirs, including a special concert later in 2021, showcasing works of the composers featured in the research.

The composers are Margaret Bonds (1913 – 1972); Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges (1745 – 1799); Kikuko Kanai (1906 – 1986); Robert Nathaniel Dett (1882 – 1943); Ali Osman (1958 – 2017); Julia Perry (1924 -1979);and Isaac Hirshow (1883 – 1956).

The selection panel was chaired by the black bass player Chi-chi Nwanoku (pictured), founder and director of the Chineke! Foundation which supports and encourages BAME classical musicians in the UK and Europe.

 “We want to inspire listeners by shining a light on unfairly forgotten areas of Western classical music” said Alan Davey, controller of Radio 3. “Hopefully this inspiration will draw in listeners from a wide range of backgrounds and with a wide range of musical interests. 

 “The researchers funded through this scheme will uncover musical gems, and will help us engage both new and existing audiences, moving a step forwards in the direction of wider inclusion and a more diverse repertoire.”


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