Open Letter to Classic FM

Hi Classic FM. 

I just saw your post on 10 quotes from female composers that prove the struggle is real. It’s incredibly disappointing that you write this but you really don’t practise what you preach. How many of these unbelievable composers have you actually played on your station ever? Listening to your station and going through your playlist I can never see any. 

The struggle is real, you are correct. It would be a lot less bad if you, one of the biggest radio stations in the UK, would actually play some music by women composers on a regular basis. And not just relegated to an occasional series like Sounds and Sweet Airs. Female composers need to be played consistently if there is to be lasting change.

I’m appalled that these composers are not played on a daily basis on your station. I’m even more appalled that you keep writing about them, talking about how marginalised they are, yet by not playing them on a daily basis you are continuing to marginalise these composers. You are contributing to the centuries of institutionalised sexism that keep these amazing composers out of the history books.

I’d also like to add that you had a Best of British show a few weeks ago, an entirely all male lineup- failing to play Dame Ethel Smyth or Rebecca Clarke, (whose quotes both appear on the aforementioned article of 10 quotes by female composers), also failing to play the many other amazing and influential women composers from Britain. 

I’m the producer of The Daffodil Perspective, an online classical radio show which is proud to be completely gender equal. I would be more than happy to consult with you on ways to incorporate the hundreds of women composers on your station. I have a wealth of experience and knowledge regarding the centuries of women composers and how they all fit into the current biased version of classical music history. Just last week I showcased the music of the incredible and very important 20th century British composer Ruth Gipps, a student of Gordon Jacob and friend of Malcolm Arnold. 

Again I must reiterate my utter horror that you talk about the struggle of women and do nothing to actually change this. It’s absolutely shameful and hypocritical. As such a large radio station with a huge listenership you have an amazing opportunity here. Integrating women composers on a regular basis would only lead to a more robust and diverse listener base and would lead to greater appreciation of music history. 

I hope you’ll consider what I’ve said here and I look forward to your speedy response.

Elizabeth de Brito

The Daffodil Perspective Producer

 

 

 

News – official commitment to playing more BAME composers on the show

Super excited to officially announce my new commitment to include more music by black and minority ethnic composers in the show every single week. This includes both men and women, composers that are not white are incredibly marginalised in the classical music industry.

People of all skin colours have been composing throughout history, there is vast amounts of incredible repertoire written by people of colour/BAME composers yet none of it is performed enough. So I’m redressing the balance, actually over the last 5 weeks I’ve programmed at least one piece by a black male composer on every show including music by Ulysses Kay, William Grant Still, George Walker, and Adolphus Hailstork but now it’s officially official.

Still a work in progress regarding specifics but from today every show will contain at least one piece by a male BAME composer/person of colour, guaranteed. And that’s in addition to my gender equality commitment and any awesome music by women of colour as well which will continue to be on the show.

In terms of women composers of African descent, apart from Florence Price who I program at least once a month, including my Fun With Florence segment, I’ve only programmed Margaret Bonds, Regina Baiocchi and Eleanor Alberga so far. I’ve programmed Chinese composer Chen Yi and Japanese composer Keiko Abe once so there’s a lot of room for development and improvement, as I say still working out the kinks, I’m looking forward to making the show better and more interesting, more diverse and inclusive.

I’ve already discovered and programmed a ton of new repertoire so I’m excited to keep it going, continue to showcase awesome marginalised music and keep programming for justice.