Word was just released about a new initiative spearheaded by the BBC in British primary schools to awaken youth to classical music, and to get them enthusiastic from a young age. The program, as described by the BBC, is to bring professional musicians into schools and engage youth with live performances and meaningful experiences—an idea and a goal which can be fully supported, in particularly with arts education diminishing not just in the US but also abroad.
The 10 pieces that are to be featured include:
- John Adams: Short Ride in a Fast Machine
- Beethoven: Symphony No. 5 (1st movement)
- Britten: “Storm” Interlude from Peter Grimes
- Grieg: In the Hall of the Mountain King from Peer Gynt
- Handel: Zadok the Priest
- Holst: Mars from The Planets
- Anna Meredith: Connect It
- Mozart: Horn Concerto No. 4 (3rd movement)
- Mussorgsky: A Night on the Bare Mountain
- Stravinsky: The Firebird suite (1911) (Finale)
And, no, your eyes didn’t deceive you—the list isn’t entirely white men, Anna Meredith was included, too!
Anna Meredith is the composer-in-residence of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and well known throughout the UK, including having several works performed at the Proms. She is classically trained, but also explores contemporary ideas, including electronic music. Do check out her website for excellent videos of performances of her works (though, not of Connect It, which can be found on the BBC website—but isn’t currently working—fingers crossed it’s a temporary glitch!).
One woman out of 10 composers, though dreary, is actually quite a bit better than what most professional ensembles can program in any given season. But how about a bit more diversity in the choices, and a historical woman or two? (Come on, BBC! Wouldn’t Ethyl Smyth or Rebecca Clarke be great additions?)