Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Michael S. Wright: 'Black and Ethnic Minority Representation in Music Broadcasting' in Britain

Shirley J. Thompson 

Wayne Marshall

Duke Ellington (1899-1974) 
is featured at

[Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (1875-1912) 
is profiled at,
 which features a comprehensive Works List 
and a Bibliography by Dr. Dominique-René de Lerma,  
We are collaborating with the Samuel Coleridge-Taylor Foundation of the U.K.,]

Michael S. Wright writes:

FYI re my letter to Edward Vaizey – Britain’s Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries.

Shirley Thompson is an amazingly talented and successful composer of Jamaican descent who I met some 20 years ago.

The e-mail I sent was copied in to a number of relevant artists and performers

From: Shirley Thompson [] 

Sent: 26 August 2014 03:12

To: michael wright

Subject: Re: Black and Ethnic Minority Representation in Music Broadcasting

Dear Michael,

Thanks for copying me into your insightful email to Hon Ed Vaizey, MP. I entirely concur with the issue you've raised and the points you make. It is particularly interesting to be reminded that Samuel Coleridge Taylor had a prom performance in 1914. 100 years later and the Classical prom programme excludes music by persons of colour from Britain, or anywhere else in the world for that matter!

I have several orchestral works that could easily be included in the prom. They have been recorded by world-leading musicians such as the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the Philharmonia and the BBC Concert Orchestra Principals et al. Please see century/id882808507. I have also been performed in 38 major opera houses worldwide including Sydney Opera House, City Center New York, the Royal Opera House and the Mariinsky Opera House.

I am not sure of the criteria employed in programming for the prom and would like to know. I am also curious to find out how classical works make it onto the Radio 3 and Classic FM playlists.

I look forward to progressing this enquiry and developing a list of persons wanting to see appropriate changes to the BBC Radio 3 and Classic FM playlists.

Best wishes,

Dr Shirley J. Thompson FRSA
Composer, Conductor, Creative Director, 
Academic, Violinist
Tel: 07976 941421

On Saturday, 23 August 2014, 12:55, michael wright <> wrote:

The Hon Edward Vaizey
Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries

Dear Mr Vaizey,
I refer to recent campaigns and I follow on from recent concerns over the disproportionally low representation of Black and Ethnic Minorities working in the media industry,  I have good reason to believe that there is a massive under-representation of people of non-European origin in the broadcasting of all forms of  music outside the ‘pop’ music industry. Black Asian and people from ethnic minorities make up 14% of the UK population yet less than 6% of the people who work in the media are from ethnic minorities!
A prime example of the disproportion of broadcast ‘classical’ music by Black and Ethnic minorities can be seen in this years’ listing of the ‘BBC Proms’. Practically all of the music is by White composers of European origin. However, I must acknowledge that this years’ Prom 30: ‘Battle of the Bands’ – does contain some music by the great African American jazz composer-performers Duke Ellington and Count Basie. However, this was somewhat marginalised by the timing and format. It is interesting to note that Prom 24 held on Friday 11 Sept 1914, at 8.00pm in the Queen's Hall did include Samuel Coleridge-Taylor - Scenes from 'The Song of Hiawatha', Op 30. Samuel Coleridge-Taylor 1875-1912 was a major composer of mixed African and English origin who was born in London and during his lifetime rivalled the much more well known composer, Sir Edward Elgar.
The BBC Proms have been long-held to be the flagship classical music festival in the UK. However, those responsible for programming these concerts and selecting the artists performing and the composers represented have clearly missed the mark in the ethnic balance for this years’ Proms. I believe that the inclusion of Wayne Marshall as one of the presenters is little more than a ‘token representation.'
Whilst the BBC have come some way in recent years to make more efforts to include music by Black and Ethnic Minorities in their programmes on BBC Radio 3 and BBC 4, there is still much more work required to redress this imbalance.
I believe the BBC, Classic FM and other UK channels need to do much more to make sure more black, Asian and ethnic minorities are employed in all aspects of the media whether they are artists or presenters..
Kind Regards,

Michael Wright
Way House,
Nr Beaworthy,
EX21 5SL

I have now added the following listing of Wayne Marshall’s impressive list previous performances at the BBC Proms and highlighted those that have featured performances of music by composers or arrangers of African origin or descent including his own works.
(1988) Prom 30 - Tuesday 16 August, 7.30pm - Francis Poulenc - Concerto for Organ, Strings and Timpani in G minor
(1996) Prom 30 - Sunday 11 August, 9.30pm - Igor Stravinsky - Concerto for piano and wind instruments
(1997) Prom 73 - Last Night of the Proms 1997 - Saturday 13 September, 7.30pm  -George Gershwin - Variations on 'I got Rhythm' Olivier Messiaen - L' Ascension (organ version)
(1998) Prom 20 - Saturday 1 August, 6.30pm - George Gershwin - Porgy and Bess
(1999) Prom 43 - Duke Ellington: A Centenary Celebration - Thursday 19 August, 10.00pm Billy Strayhorn - Take the 'A' train, Duke Ellington – Solitude, Louis Bellson - The Hawk Talks, Duke Ellington - It Don't Mean a Thing If It Ain't Got That Swing, Duke Ellington – Juniflip, Duke Ellington - Drop me Off in Harlem, Duke Ellington - Sophisticated Lady, Duke Ellington - Such Sweet Thunder, Duke Ellington - I Got It Bad, And That Ain't Good, Duke Ellington - Rockin' in Rhythm, Duke Ellington - Time's A-Wastin' (Things Ain't What They Used To Be), Duke Ellington - Mood Indigo, Duke Ellington - Satin Doll (This was extremely well performed with the BBC Big Band but to my mind, somehow lacked something you could hear in the originals which I have on CD transfers of the old records – my comment!)
(2001) Prom 29 - Saturday 11 August, 7.00pm - Olivier Messiaen - La nativité du Seigneur, Olivier Messiaen - Messe de la Pentecôte, Olivier Messiaen - L' Ascension (organ version)
(2005) Prom 08 - Thursday 21 July, 7.30pm - James MacMillan - A Scotch Bestiary
(2008) Prom 01 - First Night of the Proms 2008 - Friday 18 July, 8.00pm  - Olivier Messiaen - La nativité du Seigneur, Richard Strauss - Festliches Präludium
(2008) Prom 22 - Sunday 3 August, 4.00pm - Olivier Messiaen – Prélude, Wayne Marshall - Organ improvisation on Themes by Messiaen, Olivier Messiaen - Verset pour la Fête de la Dédicace, Dupré - Organ Symphony No. 2 in C sharp minor, Op 26, Naji Subhy Paul Irénée Hakim - Pange lingua, Jeanne Demessieux - Te Deum, Op 11
(2010) Prom 20 - Sunday 1 August, 4.00pm - Richard Wagner - Tannhäuser, WWV 70 (arr. Edwin Lemare), Wayne Marshall - Organ improvisation on Wagner's 'Ride of the Valkyries', Wayne Marshall - Organ improvisation on Themes from Wagner's 'Tristan und Isolde', Richard Wagner - Die Walküre, WWV 86b (arr. Edwin Lemare), Richard Wagner - Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, WWV 96 (arr. Edwin Lemare)
(2012) Prom 70: Desert Island Discs 70th-Anniversary Prom - Monday 3 September, 7.30pm - J. S. Bach - Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 565

No comments: