Radio 3 to celebrate light music

Nationwide festival to be held in June


Radio 3 is to celebrate the field of light music this summer with a nationwide festival.


‘Light Fantastic’, part of the Southbank Centre’s Festival of Britain celebrations, will be turning the spotlight on an often-neglected area of the country’s musical heritage. British light orchestral music is to be at the heart of this June’s events, which involve the BBC’s performing groups.

Highlights include a gala concert from the Royal Festival Hall with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, the first-ever simultaneous broadcast on Radio 2’s Friday Night is Music Night and Radio 3’s Performance on 3 by the BBC Concert Orchestra, and the chance to borrow previously unavailable light music scores from the BBC Music Library.

As well as live broadcasts, Radio 3 will be turning over a variety of programmes, including Discovering Music and Music Matters, to exploring light music’s history and heritage, while amateur musicians are invited to take part in events around the country.  

John Wilson, conductor of the John Wilson Orchestra, whose recent MGM Hollywood Musical and Rodgers and Hammerstein Proms were hugely popular, is artistic adviser to the project.

‘As the late Andrew Gold [head of the BBC’s Light Music Unit from 1965 to 1969] once said, light music is music where the tune is more important than what you do with it,’ explains Wilson. ‘Composers such as Eric Coates, Haydn Wood, Edward German and Robert Farnon gave us a wealth of wonderful tunes, tunes with a capital ‘T’ and clothed them in the most dazzling orchestral colours. The Radio 3 Light Fantastic festival of light music celebrates these and other composers who are craftsmen in this much-loved genre.’


Ngalula Beatrice Kabutakapua