Forgotten music by composers from diverse backgrounds to premier on BBC Radio 3

Forgotten music by composers from diverse ethnic backgrounds will make their UK premiere on BBC Radio 3 next month.

The BBC Philharmonic orchestra will perform three works by Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges; Margaret Bonds; and Ali Osman in Salford, Greater Manchester on February 2, which will be broadcast from 2pm.

The orchestral and string quartet pieces were discovered through new research conducted by the Diverse Composers scheme, which is run by Radio 3 and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).

The seven researchers who are working with the Diverse Composers scheme (BBC/PA)
The seven researchers who are working with the Diverse Composers scheme (BBC/PA)

The scheme was launched in autumn 2020 to “expand the breadth and diversity of what is accepted as belonging to the classical music canon”, the station said.

It also intends to “recognise and celebrate black, Asian and ethnically diverse composers across the centuries”.

Seven researchers were awarded funding in spring 2021 and they are currently unearthing pieces of music that have been rarely performed or not commercially available as recordings.

Broadcasters Tom McKinney and Linton Stephens will introduce the concert, called Celebrating Diversity in Classical Music, which will premiere some of the forgotten pieces.

The programme will also include solo piano works – by composers Nathaniel Dett, Kikuko Kanai, and Julia Perry – performed by concert pianist Clare Hammond.

A pre-recording of students from the Royal Northern College of Music playing two rare string quartets by the French composer Bologne will also be presented.

Alan Davey, BBC Radio 3 controller, said: “BBC Radio 3 is all about expanding the classical canon through new commissions and unearthing those from the past that might forever be lost without a platform for audiences to discover them.

“We’re grateful to the Arts and Humanities Research Council for supporting us and enabling us to take steps to ensure that unfairly forgotten figures are welcomed again into the Western classical canon for future generations.”

Alongside the concert, two BBC Radio 3 Arts & Ideas podcasts by Christienna Fryar will feature discussions with the seven researchers on the composers they are focusing on and the music they are unearthing.

Professor Christopher Smith, AHRC executive chair, added: “These performances, made possible by the work of leading arts and humanities researchers in tandem with Radio 3’s reach and platform, make an important contribution to expanding the breadth and diversity of the classical music canon.

“AHRC is proud to help ensure that these sublime compositions will be heard for generations to come.”

A further concert based on the research is scheduled to be broadcast this autumn.

Afternoon Concert: Celebrating Diversity in Classical Music will air on BBC Radio 3 from 2pm on February 2, and will be available on BBC Sounds.