Michael White’s classical news: BBC; Theatre of Voices; The Sixteen; Joseph Shiner

Thursday, 10th February — By Michael White

Joseph Shiner_credit Joseph Shiner

Joseph Shiner is at Hampstead Parish Church. Photo: Joseph Shiner

THE timing may be accidental but it’s hard not to read an element of rebuke to Nadine Dorries, Britain’s so-called culture secretary, in the BBC’s decision to showcase its own, rather more distinguished cultural credentials this weekend as part of a year that marks the Corporation’s centenary. From Feb 11-13, Radio 3 will run live broadcasts from around the UK featuring the professional musical ensembles paid for by the licence fee: namely the BBC Symphony Orchestra, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, BBC Concert Orchestra, BBC Philharmonic, Ulster Orchestra, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and BBC Singers. It’s a mightily impressive roll-call that enhances the stature of our country in the wider world – no other broadcasting organisation in existence offers anything comparable – and it’s something you might just expect a civilised government to be proud of. But that of course assumes the existence of civilised government: a feature of life in Britain which seems no longer to obtain. As things stand, Dorries & co are clearly minded to kill off the BBC and all it stands for – including a wealth of music-making now seriously under threat. So make the most of what the Beeb provides while it’s still there. This weekend celebration starts 7.30pm on Friday with a BBCSO concert from the Barbican; and if you can’t follow the events as they happen, you’ll find everything stored on the BBC Sounds app. Listen and enjoy. And maybe send a strongly worded letter to your MP on the subject.

• It’s a good week for singers and singing, not least at Kings Place where this year’s focus on the vocal arts is picking up after some Covid-cancellations earlier on. Feb 12 features the superb Danish group Theatre of Voices in A Brief Descent into Deep Time – an intriguing new piece by John Luther Adams that apparently sings you through two billion years of the geography of the Grand Canyon (don’t ask me how). It’s paired with the equally curious Little Match Girl Passion by David Lang, which retells the Hans Andersen story in the format of a Bach Passion. kingsplace.co.uk

• There’s more choral music at Cadogan Hall on Feb 16 when the elite voices of The Sixteen throw themselves into Platinum Jubilee mode by performing all four of Handel’s Coronation Anthems. With orchestra. Take bunting and balloons. cadoganhall.com

For something more reflective, try the wonderfully eloquent tenor Mark Padmore singing Fauré, Schubert and Reynaldo Hahn at Wigmore Hall, partnered by that most luminous of pianists Imogen Cooper. Feb 14. wigmore-hall.org.uk

• And for unbridled chutzpah, the multi-disciplined singer/conductor Barbara Hannigan repeats her strange but sassy double-act of doing both at the same time – here with the LSO on Feb 17: a Barbican programme of Copland and Weill. If you haven’t seen her in action, it’s an experience once seen never forgotten. lso.co.uk

Talking of the unforgettable, I was dazzled last week by a short but uber-sassy contribution to a City Music Foundation showcase evening by young clarinettist Joseph Shiner – who has a recital on Feb 12 at Hampstead Parish Church. He shares the bill with the outstanding pianist Michael Dussek in a strong programme of Brahms, Saint-Saëns and Poulenc. Strongly recommended. Details: josephshiner.co.uk

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