Radio 3 to celebrate anniversary with 70 commissions

'70 at 70' will encompass new music, sound 'experiments' and drama


As part of Radio 3's celebration of the 70th anniversary of its predecessor, the Third Programme, the station is embarking on one of its largest commissioning schemes to date.


'70 at 70' will call on composers, writers and playwrights to help mark the anniversary.

Although none of the composers involved has yet been announced, plans include significant works by three established composers, and three 45-minute 'music projects' exploring the medium of radio.

Seven composers will also be given their very first Radio 3 commission in the form of a ten-minute work, and winners of the BBC Proms 'Inspire Young Composers Competition 2016' will be asked to write pieces inspired by musical trends that have appeared during the lifetimes of Radio 3 and the Third Programme, from minimalism to musique concrète. And two 'BBC Proms Inspire Young Composers' will each write a 70-bar anniversary fanfare.

As part of the celebrations, Radio 3 will also welcome a 'Contemporary Composer in 3' to write regular works throughout the year for regular broadcast, with the aim of bringing new music to a wider listenership.

'BBC Radio 3 is the direct ancestor of a remarkable cultural phenomenon – the Third Programme, which began broadcasting on 29 September 1946,' says Alan Davey, the controller of Radio 3. 'That ancestry echoes an unbroken line of ambition:  to champion great works of music and culture, innovating in radio, supporting new talent, and connecting audiences all over the country with the joys of distinctive music and culture experiences.'


Radio 3's plans for drama during the anniversary year include a satirical play, The Present Experiment by Robin Brooks, about the birth of the Third Programme, and a new production of The Birthday Party by Harold Pinter, who received his first commission from the Third Programme at the very start of his career.