The BBC Concert Orchestra has come a long way since its humble beginnings as a simple radio orchestra. Since it formed in 1952, they have performed at everything from the Proms to ABBA on the West End. With a band of musicians whose talent range from classical music to jazz, they have a wide audience appeal, and play frequently at the London South Bank Centre, which currently has four shows lined up over spring. The shows take you on a through the depths of the human psyche, and explore a political history through music.
Hidden Voices looks back at the history of the Afro-American fight for emancipation. It will feature Henry Gilbert's The Dance in Place Congo and William Grant Still's first of five symphonies, Afro-American, which combines traditional orchestra with the Blues. You can learn more about the influence of the Blues in a pre-concert talk at 6.15pm.
After Hitler took power in Germany, the composer Kurt Weill left Berlin and moved to Broadway. Without the restrictions of the Nazi regime, he was able to create daring and popular pieces of musical theatre. The orchestra will be performing his instrumental Symphony No. 2, A Stranger Here Myself, and his narrated story, The New Orpheus.
During World War Two, BBC radio did its bit by boosting morale on the Home Front with uplifting music. They commissioned rousing songs such as Ireland's 'Epic March', and played 'Music While You Work' twice a day to improve factory worker productivity. There were also many propaganda films, from which, a number of scores have been lifted to be performed at the concert, and there will of course be, the famous songs from 'The Forces Sweetheart', Vera Lynn.