Introducing the BBC New Generation Artists Blog
Clemency Burton-Hill introduces our new series of blogs from BBC Radio 3 New Generation Artists
I feel incredibly honoured to have presented BBC New Generation Artists on BBC Radio 3 for the past four seasons. It’s inspirational to get to know so many exceptionally talented young instrumentalists, singers and chamber ensembles so early in their careers, and gratifying to be able to watch closely as they grow and develop during the two years they spend on the scheme.
Launched in 1999, the NGA programme boasts some of the world’s finest international artists as alumnae, including pianists Paul Lewis, Stephen Osborne and Benjamin Grosvenor; trumpeter Alison Balsom; violinists Alina Ibragimova and Lisa Batiashvili; the Belcea Quartet; cellist Natalie Clein; percussionist Colin Currie; mezzo-soprano Alice Coote; bass-baritones Christopher Maltman and Jonathan Lemalu; jazzers Gwilym Simcock and Shabaka Hutchings – the list goes on! Suffice to say, many of our NGAs go on to bag industry plaudits such as BBC Music Magazine awards, and they are all now enjoying impressive professional careers.
The breadth and depth of the repertoire the NGAs explore is dazzling and one of the most exciting aspects of the scheme is the close friendships and musical partnerships they often forge with each other. We also keep the musical mix alive by ensuring that rarer solo instruments also get a look-in: we recently opened the NGA door to our first ever classical guitarist, for example, the brilliant Sean Shibe.
With classical music being such a competitive industry, it’s difficult to decide who to invite onto the scheme, but a team of Radio 3 experts keep a close eye and ear on the international music scene to watch those who are really beginning to make a mark. Every year we invite a handful of young artists – around 6 or 7 – whom we feel have truly exceptional talent. Over the next two years they receive a level of support that is unique, as we provide them with recording, performance, collaboration and commission opportunities they would not receive anywhere else. These include concert appearances around the UK, including at festivals such as Cheltenham and the BBC Proms; special studio recordings broadcast throughout the year on Radio 3; immersive collaborations with BBC orchestras and leading conductors; and record deals with major labels including Sony Classical and Signum. Composers who have been commissioned to write for the NGA scheme include Mark-Anthony Turnage, Alexander Goehr and Karin Rehnqvist.
Needless to say, our NGAs enjoy a jam-packed schedule both on the airwaves and live in the concert hall. This summer, you’ll be able to hear some of our current crop of NGAs at the Proms, including mezzo-soprano Kitty Whately (Prom 35), pianists Zhang Zuo (Prom 51) and Louis Schwizgebel (Prom 33 & Proms Chamber Music 6) and viola player Lise Berthaud (Prom 72). I’m delighted that this new NGA Blog will give you a chance to get to know all our artists, keep tabs on what they’re up to over the course of the year, and hear more of their thoughts on the scheme.
I’m very proud to be associated with the BBC New Generation Artists programme, and of all our NGAs both past and present. The outstanding NGA soprano Ruby Hughes, who has just graduated, sums it up perfectly when she says:
‘I loved the NGA. It gave me the chance to perform and record a wide breadth of music that I had only previously dreamed about singing, and to the highest possible level with wonderful fellow musicians, ensembles, orchestras, with both brilliant and encouraging producers. These were two years that have helped to shape my future musical career and I will be eternally grateful for in so many ways.’
Stay tuned to see and hear more of the stars of the future…
- Clemency Burton-Hill
In our first blog, violinist Elena Urioste will talk about recording Messiaen's Quartet for the End of Time with fellow New Generation Artists