BBC Radio 3 will mark International Women’s Day this year with a two-week celebration of female success in classical music.


On the day itself (Sunday 8 March) Radio 3 will dedicate its entire schedule to great and influential women in music. Focusing on the work of composers and performers from different countries and eras, the International Women’s Day programming focuses on the achievements of women and their struggles in a male-dominated industry.

As well as including live concert performances of works by well known female composers like Clara Schumann and Fanny Mendelssohn, broadcasts will also introduce specially commissioned works by today’s most exciting female composers.

One such work, by young composer Rhiannon Randle, will be debuted in a live edition of The Choir, and performed by the Choir of St Catharine’s College, Cambridge.

Special variations of the usual Sunday programmes will include an episode of Private Passions with Anna Meredith (pictured above) revealing the fellow-composers (both male and female) who inspire her and Geoffrey Smith’s Jazz with a focus on the accomplishments of 20th-century singer Carmen McRae. The day will conclude with Drama on 3 presentating Dame Kristin Scott Thomas in the title role of Sophocles’s Electra.

Radio 3 has also announced that programming the week before and after International Women’s Day will have a nod to women in music. This includes a special edition of Composer of the Week, which follows five different modern female composers, all under the age of 35.

Director of BBC Radio, Helen Boaden, says: ‘I'm delighted Radio 3 is celebrating female composers with a range of programmes dedicated to classical music written and chosen by women. The station will be championing the next generation of female talent as well as analysing the contribution of some of the great women of classical music - like Fanny Mendelssohn and Clara Schumann - who often worked in the shadow of their male counterparts.’

Click here for full details of Radio 3’s International Women’s Day programming.

Lucy Chaudhuri

Pick up the March issue of BBC Music Magazine, out 18 February, to read our feature about 10 female composers from history


Six of the best: works by Fanny Mendelssohn

Why aren't there more women conductors?


Review: Jerwood Series 5 (Anna Meredith, Emily Hall)