BBC Radio 3 announces plans for 2017

Controller Alan Davey outlines the station’s programmes and themes for the new year


Alan Davey, controller of BBC Radio 3, has announced some of the station’s plans for the forthcoming year.


Appearing on the In Tune programme today (21 December), Davey said that ‘I promise you more bold programming, more pioneering moments, and more of what we do best: connecting audiences with remarkable music and culture.’

2017 will begin with the traditional New Year’s Day concert, before heading into a series concentrating on the work of the Second Viennese School: Schoenberg, Webern and Berg. January will also see a celebration of the American composer Philip Glass’s 80th birthday – who will also be interviewed in the February issue of BBC Music Magazine. Radio 3 will broadcast the BBC Symphony Orchestra’s ‘Total Immersion’ weekend of Glass at the Barbican, plus broadcast a through-the-night performance of all of his works, including a rare performance of his masterpiece Music in 12-parts.

Over the course of the year, Radio 3 will explore anniversaries of cultural and political revolutions. With the 500th anniversary of the Protestant reformation falling in spring, Radio 3 will examine the impact Martin Luther and his contemporaries had on music, both in their own time and today. In the autumn, meanwhile, the station’s focus will move onto the centenary of the Russian Revolution. As well as looking at music of the day, Radio 3 will explore how artists respond to periods of turbulence and rapid change.

Controller of BBC Radio 3 Alan Davey

In 2017, Hull takes up its mantle as UK City of Culture. Radio 3 will curate events throughout the year, including a four-day folk and world music mini-festival called ‘Uproot’ and the Hull Big Chamber Weekend. You can read more about Hull’s plans for its year of culture in our February issue.

BBC Music’s Get Playing programme – which saw a virtual orchestra perform at the BBC Proms this year – will continue to grow. A new feature on the weekend Breakfast programme will showcase recordings by amateur groups. Radio 3 will also broadcast premieres of works written for amateur ensembles as part of Making Music’s Adopt a Composer scheme. BBC Classical Introducing will also get more airtime to showcase new works by up-and-coming contemporary composers.

Highlights at the start of the year include a live broadcast a performance by the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Simon Rattle, who will become its music director in September 2017. Listeners can also hear the National Youth Orchestra and Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra live in January.


In 2017, In Tune’s Sean Rafferty will having been presenting the programme for 20 years. Davey promises that plans to celebrate Rafferty’s anniversary are in the pipeline. Watch this space…