Thursday, September 5, 2013

Michael S. Wright on BBC Radio 3: "I have suggested that William Grant Still would be the ideal candidate for ‘Composer of the Week’"

[Africa: Piano Music of William Grant Still; Denver Oldham, piano; Koch International Classics 3-7084-2H1]

[William Grant Still (1895-1978) is profiled at, which features a comprehensive Works List by Prof. Dominique-René de Lerma, Recordings, sheet music and books of William Grant Still are available at, which is operated by the composer's daughter Judith Anne Still]

Annamarie Ewing of the British classical music website BlackClassics,, recently sent an email to a number of people in which she noted that the classical music station BBC Radio 3 is inviting suggestions of the names of classical composers who have never been featured on Composer of the Week, which is celebrating its 70th Anniversary.  She explains that she has suggested Le Chevalier de Saint-Georges (1745-1799), who is featured at, and she encourages others to suggest one of the other composers profiled at the site. 

Michael S. Wright of the U.K. has replied to the email from Annamarie Ewing. He has also made his reply available for posting on AfriClassical:

Dear Annamarie,

Thanks for circulating this, this is good news indeed! Are the BBC waking up at last!!! Over the last 20 years and more, I have tried to suggest that the BBC should feature a composer of African origin and my letters seemed to have fallen into the trash bin each time. It was my view that the BBC usually do just what they want, when they want and how they want entirely at the public (licence payer’s) expense! However, in all fairness, I believe that things are changing. There is some evidence that they have made considerable progress in recent years. However, there is a lot of further scope for development and I now feel that now the time is right to revitalise efforts to step up campaigns. According to latest RAJAR figures,  Radio 3 now has an audience of less than 2 million and is falling.  In the private sector, Classic FM (at 5.6 million listeners and a rising number) has a much bigger audience in ‘classical music’ than BBC R3 with  appear in my view, to be far, far worse, and I am aware of at least one company who refuses to place advertisements with them because of their Eurocentric policies. Just check out their composer list on Classic FM.

I have suggested that William Grant Still would be the ideal candidate for ‘Composer of the Week’. There is plenty of material to run a very varied run of 5 hourly programmes and the genre of his music would have very wide appeal. This is my view, but it is one that I have held for a very long time. Nominations for women composers could include Florence Price as a good access point. I also believe that African-born composers should be nominated, like Fela Sowande and Ayo Bankole. Once these get an airing, we can think further.  I do note, however that Samuel Coleridge Taylor has been featured in the past. Also listed is Duke Ellington and perhaps there was the odd inclusion of a composer of non-European origin that appeared under ‘Composer Groups’.

These are my comments but I would be most happy to see them posted on Bill’s website.

Kind regards,


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