Next week (Thursday 9 October), Radio 3’s In Tune will link up with CBBC’s Blue Peter for ‘BBC Philharmonic Presents… Ten Pieces‘. As well as the orchestra’s performance of some of the ten works that have been specially chosen by the BBC to introduce primary school children to classical music, the programme will feature British violinist Jennifer Pike. We asked her for her thoughts on the day and about the ‘Ten Pieces’ initiative in general
What have you chosen to perform on the Radio 3 ‘Ten Pieces’ Special?
I really wanted to include William Kroll’s Banjo and fiddle, because it is so much fun. It has lots of pizzicato and double stopping and treats the violin like a guitar in places. When I was little I heard a Jascha Heifetz recording of it and absolutely loved it – it should really capture the children’s imaginations. I will also play a work from my new recording of Czech violin music and Elgar’s Salut d’amour. The BBC Philharmonic will be performing Zadok the Priest from the ‘Ten Pieces’ list and they will be joined by Blue Peter presenter Barney Harwood because it’s going to be linked through to the show. I am so excited to performing at the BBC’s amazing studio in Salford – it’s great, because Manchester is where I am from.
The BBC has made a ‘Ten Pieces’ film. Have you seen it yet?
I haven’t seen the film yet, but I love the idea of it having a visual side to it. I have seen some of what they are going to do with the animation and it reminds me of the 1940 animated film Fantasia. The film was really inspiring to me when I was little.
Which piece of classical music first inspired you?
It’s really difficult to choose, but I would have to go for Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 21 – I remember dancing around to it when I was little. All of the Mozart Piano Concertos are wonderful. I don’t know how the BBC managed to select a list of ten works – it’s a very hard thing to do, but important because it introduces classical music in an inviting bite-size format. And I have to say, looking at the list I think it’s terrific. It manages to encapsulate things like exploration and adventure that are important in a child’s upbringing. You’ve got Stravinsky‘s Firebird and Musorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, which is definitely something that inspired me when I was younger. I remember a teacher putting it on and asking us to talk about what it makes us imagine – that’s such an important thing to encourage children to do.
What else would have to go on your own list of ten essential pieces?
Another piece that really inspires me is Schubert’s Piano Sonata D960 in B flat. I would want to include a Schubert song as well and I am a big fan of Bruckner – the Eighth Symphony is a piece I really adore. If I had my way I would put nine Bruckner Symphonies on there – so it’s probably good they didn’t ask me!
How important are education initiatives like the BBC’s Ten Pieces for getting young people involved with music?
Very. I am personally very involved with the education side of things – I think it’s a duty for musicians to give something back and it’s something I am really passionate about. I am a patron of the City Music Foundation and I have just been asked to be a patron of the Prince’s Foundation for Children and the Arts, which I am delighted about. And ‘Ten Pieces’ is a really lovely thing to be part of with the BBC Philharmonic.
BBC Radio 3’s Ten Pieces Special with Blue Peter takes place on Thursday 9 October at 4.30pm on Radio 3 and 5.30pm on CBBC. It is part of this year’s BBC Philharmonic Presents… series celebrating orchestral music on seven of the BBC’s national radio networks and on BBC Radio Manchester