'Too much chatter' at Radio 3 strikes wrong note, say classical music fans

They won't be taking to the streets - that is not their style - but there is no disguising the fact that there is discontent in some quarters.

The problem: changes at Radio 3. The complainers: the station's listeners, perhaps the most conservative audience in the land.

Roger Wright, the network's controller, has caused consternation by fiddling with the Radio 3 schedule. He has, as he knew he would, attracted the ire of listeners who feel remarkably possessive of Britain's only high-brow classical music network. So when he decided to turn Discovering Music, a studio-based discussion and music programme, into Charles Hazelwood Discovering Music, which features an audience chipping in, there was bound to be trouble.

Other changes include a weekly show presented by the cabaret duo Kit and The Widow, a Sunday morning programme presented by Rob Cowan, and the moving of Composer of the Week from 9am to noon. Critics say records played on weekday mornings are now chosen randomly rather than by theme.

Leading the crusade against the new Radio 3 is Gerald Kaufman, the chairman of the Commons Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport. Mr Kaufman, a frequent critic of the BBC, has written to Mr Wright to object to some of the most recent changes, which took effect this month.

Mr Kaufman said: "I am very concerned about what appears to be a trivialisation of Radio 3. I was a great supporter of Roger Wright when he took over but over the years I feel that his good intentions have not survived.

"There appears to be less and less music and more talk. I do not want to listen to all that chatter. I do not want to hear the little anecdotes and thoughts of Radio 3 presenters." He added that too much non-classical music had crept on to the network, "that ought to be on Radio 2".

Bayan Northcott, the classical music critic of The Independent, also criticised the network. "With three or four exceptions, the general level of presenting is terrible. The attitude is to jolly along the audience and tell them, 'Don't worry, this music isn't so frightening'."

Mr Northcott also complained about what he said was an increasing reliance on "undemanding composers.

"They have lost any nerve to challenge their listeners and lead them. They are always trying not to offend so that people keep their sets switched on," he said.

Radio 3 has about 2 million listeners a week. Radio 2 garners 13 million.

A spokeswoman for Radio 3 denied that presenters were chatterers. "They are authorities on the subjects they present. A lot of them are performers, so their engagement with the music is incredibly deep."

Radio 3 has, in the past week, decided to play complete piano concertos by composers such as Mozart and Schumann as well as contemporary works by, among others, Kevin Volans and Erkki-Sven Tuur.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
The two faces revealed by the ultraviolet light
newsScholars left shaken after shining ultraviolet light on 500-year-old Welsh manuscript
News
Rosamund Pike played Bond girld Miranda Frost, who died in Die Another Day (PA)
news
Arts and Entertainment
books
News
newsHow do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? With people like this
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Ashdown Group: Web Developer - London - £40K plus benefits - Salary negotiable

£38000 - £40000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: A leading consu...

Sheridan Maine: Accounts Assistant

£12 - £15 Hourly Rate: Sheridan Maine: Are you an experienced Accounts Assista...

Sheridan Maine: Accounts Payable Clerk

£21,000 - £24,000 Annual: Sheridan Maine: Are you looking for a new opportunit...

Sheridan Maine: Finance Manager

£55,000 - £65,000 Annual: Sheridan Maine: Are you a qualified accountant with ...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

Italy vs England player ratings

Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

An underdog's tale of making the most of it

Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat