14 May 2020

Live music from Wigmore Hall: It’s really happening through BBC Radio 3

By Julie Webb Client Director

We’ve been enjoying wonderful music during Wigmore Hall’s recent live streaming every Monday night, and now the top London concert venue has announced another innovative concert series – this time with musicians performing in the empty hall for BBC Radio 3.

The series will run throughout June and musicians include tenor Mark Padmore who has graced the Lark Music-supported London Sinfonietta World Premiere Wednesday series. Mitsuko Uchida, Angela Hewitt and Stephen Hough are also booked for the 20 one-hour concerts.

It will be the first time that musicians have performed on a London stage since the lockdown and marks the first live music broadcast on Radio 3 since March 16.

The 20 concerts will feature soloists or duos at 1pm every weekday in June and will be live-streamed on Wigmore Hall’s website and broadcast on Radio 3 and BBC Sounds. All concerts will be available on demand for 30 days.

The musicians will perform to an empty hall, with a ‘minimal technical set-up’ explained Wigmore Hall’s artistic director, John Gilhooly.

He said: “When we shut the hall on March 16 we left the piano on the stage. We also left the camera and audio equipment in place so they can be operated remotely.

“With only one or two performers on stage it’s possible to make this work within government guidelines observing social distancing.  There’ll be one producer backstage for Wigmore Hall, one producer for Radio 3 and we need someone to tune and anti-viral the piano.

“The artists will come on stage from separate entrances, the presenter will sit in the middle of the hall and I will sit in the balcony and we’ll communicate via radio, email and texts.”

All the performers live in or near London and many have pledged to walk or cycle to Wigmore Hall.

John also revealed other performers will include singers Iestyn Davies and Roderick Williams, as well as pianists Benjamin Grosvenor, Angela Hewitt and Paul Lewis. Mark Padmore and Mitsuko Uchida will end the series with Schubert’s song cycle Winterreise.

Meanwhile, John and his team have been working flat out during lockdown – giving out refunds for cancelled shows and preparing the 2021 season with a hope that concerts can start on September 10, and keeping in touch with musicians, composers and agents.

To support musicians, Wigmore Hall’s exclusive full-length concerts featuring Warner Classics artists recorded at Wigmore Hall in recent years have been streamed online, each for 24-hours. Ahdn have  included countertenor Jakub Józef Orli?ski and pianist Micha? Biel piano; Quatuour Ebène, plus Marianne Crebassa & Fazil Say, who were all watched by a worldwide audience.

John said: ‘If you enjoy the concerts we are putting on, and feel you are able to support Wigmore Hall,  we would be grateful for any donation.

“Every month we are losing half a million pounds so your contributions will help us enormously as we do everything we can to protect the hall and ensure we can continue to provide a platform for exceptional artists.”

The BBC’s involvement in the June series allows the expenditure to be shared and an anonymous donor has underwritten Wigmore Hall’s costs.

John added: “We are putting our energies into hopes of reopening the hall on September 10, the 2021 season as originally scheduled. Tickets are now on sale at wigmore-hall.org.uk.”

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