Michael Berkeley to become a peer

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House of Commons beckons for British composer

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Michael BerkeleyMichael Berkeley has been appointed to the House of Lords. The British composer, who also presents Private Passions on Radio 3 every Sunday, will take his place in the chamber on a non-party political (or ‘crossbench’) basis. He joins Andrew Lloyd Webber, the only other composer currently holding a life peerage.

The son of composer Lennox Berkeley (1903-89), Michael, now 64, is a widely respected figure in British music. His sizeable number of compositions includes three operas – For You, Jane Eyre and Baa Baa Black Sheep – and eight concertos. He was also a very successful artistic director of the Cheltenham Music Festival from 1995-2004.

Berkeley himself has expressed his pleasure at being able to give the arts greater representation in the Lords, while Radio 3’s controller Roger Wright says that the honour is ‘hugely deserved’.

‘Michael is not only an accomplished composer but also an expert communicator,’ says Wright, ‘not least reflected in his ability to have engaging and insightful conversations with his guests.’

Michael Berkeley talks to BBC Music Magazine about Stravinsky's 'Rite of Spring' in the March issue, currently on sale