Magazine article The Spectator

Music: Peter Phillips

Magazine article The Spectator

Music: Peter Phillips

Article excerpt

Credit: Peter Phillips

Roger Wright's precipitate departure from both Radio Three and the Proms came as a surprise. At first the news was that he would go at the end of the season, but then it became apparent he was leaving at the beginning of it. Whatever his reasons may have been -- and one sympathises with the idea of a carefree summer holiday after all these years -- it brings Edward Blakeman, who becomes acting director of the Proms during the interregnum, deservedly into the limelight. Wright, meanwhile, will become the chief executive of the Aldeburgh Festival from September.

Wright has been the controller of Radio Three since 1998, and has been in charge of the Proms since 2007. Sixteen years in charge of planning at a major radio station is a long stint, and his decisions, inevitably, have not pleased everyone. Early in his tenure he raised hackles by timetabling more jazz and world music alongside the traditional classical fare, and was held to have reduced the number of live broadcasts. Jazz and world music survived this criticism and now form a valued part of the weekly round.

The live broadcasts issue was much more contentious. For a time live concerts were announced from Broadcasting House, which took away all the actuality of the event, partly vitiating the point of taking it live in the first place. Gone were those friendly chats in medias res , when the conductor would climb down from his podium, catch his breath quickly, and prepare to match his wits with those of the on-site presenter. If Wright hadn't reversed the studio-presentation policy, I for one would never have got to spar with Richard Coles in the enjoyable way I have been doing these past months. But I suspect my predilections didn't come into it: the criticism of absentee presenters was trenchant and not enough money was being saved to justify upsetting so many people.

Whether there are now one or two jobs up for grabs at Radio Three -- the controller and the Proms -- is not certain. The rumour is that if they find the right person they will award both jobs at once, otherwise they will appoint the controller and leave that person to find a Proms director. Names have started to be bandied: Stephen Maddock (chief executive of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra); Paul Hughes (currently general manager of the BBC Symphony orchestra and BBC Singers); Tom Service (journalist and broadcaster, a man of impressive breadth of knowledge); Jessica Isaacs, and many others. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.