Modern Classical Music

Wednes­day, 22nd May: Today’s Fea­tured Music is “Mod­ern Clas­si­cal Music” — but what does that mean, exact­ly? It’s not sim­ply “mod­ern orches­tral music”: most peo­ple’s expo­sure to orches­tral music is via movie sound­tracks, and they have their own show.

Well, in the con­text of today’s pro­gramme, we’re talk­ing about pieces of music writ­ten between around the mid-20th Cen­tu­ry until the present day, that aren’t exact­ly “pop music” (though they may tip a hat to it from time to time).

This is a tricky def­i­n­i­tion, how­ev­er. Mike Batt (some of whose work is in the playlist for today: there’s a lot more to his com­po­si­tions than the Wombles! ) has remarked that there is no such dis­tinc­tion as “pop­u­lar music” and “seri­ous music” — there’s sim­ply “pop­u­lar” and “unpop­u­lar”, so the def­i­n­i­tion rather falls at the first fence.

Thus, today’s pro­gramme is a bit of a wild ride. It includes famous names like William Wal­ton and John Rut­ter, but it also includes the Pen­guin Café Orches­tra (and its suc­ces­sor, the Pen­guin Café) and the North Sea Radio Orches­tra, both of whom could per­haps be described as play­ing “alter­na­tive cham­ber music”. There are pieces from Karl Jenk­ins, Deb­bie Wise­man and Joby Tal­bot, a recorder con­cer­to from Richard Har­vey, works by Christo­pher Gun­ning and John Bar­ry that aren’t either com­poser’s work for film and TV, and the Muf­fin Men play­ing arrange­ments of music by Frank Zap­pa. And a great deal more.

Today’s pro­gramme may be a lit­tle odd. But we do hope you enjoy it.

Don’t for­get that you can catch the lat­est episode of our orig­i­nal series, “Where Have You Been?”, at 12 noon and 4pm SLT/Pacific, and “Engines of Our Inge­nu­ity” from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Hous­ton, every four hours from 4am Pacific.

The image shows The North Sea Radio Orches­tra play­ing live, from their web site.