New BBC Music Awards to be "Sports Personality of the Year for music"

The Corporation announces an umbrella BBC Music strategy that seeks to showcase the best of British - and also get young children interested in classical music

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New BBC Music Awards to be "Sports Personality of the Year for music"
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Ben Dowell

The BBC today launched a wave of new music programming initiatives including an inaugural BBC Music Awards and a landmark BBC1 documentary about twentieth century pop.

The umbrella strategy is being overseen by the Corporation's new BBC Music director Bob Shennan and is an attempt to co-ordinate coverage across all the BBC’s platforms.

It includes the December debut of the BBC Music Awards at Earls Court which will feature live performances and a review of the year with awards covering British Artist of the Year, International Artist of the Year and Song of the Year. Coverage will air on BBC1 and the hosts of the event will be Chris Evans and Fearne Cotton.

Shennan told RadioTimes.com after the even that the new awards will be "like the Sports Personality of the Year Awards but for music" and will also be very different from the existing major music awards ceremony, The Brits. "There are only three awards and they are not constrained by anything commercial," he said. "It will be a bringing together of what happened throughout the year."

In addition, a new “many part” BBC2 series with the working title The Soundtrack of the Twentieth Century promises an anthology of pop ranging from “Taylor Swift via Frank Sinatra, The Beatles, Michael Jackson, Eminem and many more” when it airs next year according to the BBC.

BBC2 will also air a feature length documentary called Genesis: Together and Apart (working title) which the channel says will reunite all original members of the band – Tony Banks, Phil Collins, Peter Gabriel, Steve Hackett and Mike Rutherford – for the first time since 1975.

The BBC Music strategy also sees the launch in October of a primary schools initiative called Ten Pieces. This involves a week of special screenings for schools in cinemas across the UK of a film introducing children to ten pieces of classical music. 

The schools are being invited to ask the children respond creatively to the music by composers including Beethoven, Mozart and Britten through their own compositions, dance, digital art or animation.  The event will culminate with a “celebration” of the children's work next summer.

The Corporation has also allocated "ambassadors" for the project – including singer and 6 Music presenter Cerys Matthews and soul singer/songwriter Laura Mvula all of whom will visit schools and encourage involvement.

A host of BBC presenters including Fearne Cotton, Katie Derham, Suzy Klein, Lauren Laverne and Zane Lowe were present at today’s launch hosted by BBC director general Tony Hall at the BBC’s Radio Theatre.

Hall said: “Today’s the start of something very special for everyone who loves music. BBC Music is a celebration of the brilliant musical talent across our country.  We’ll be joining up music on television, radio, iPlayer and online like never before.  There’ll be new shows; new partnerships; and whole new ways to enjoy music on the BBC.”

Bob Shennan, the Radio 2 and 6 Music controller who was given the added responsibility of BBC Music director in March, added: “From the BBC Proms to Glastonbury, music on the BBC already creates a range of amazing experiences that our audiences love. Under BBC Music and in partnership with the UK music industry, we will set a new benchmark for quality and scale, with bigger events and more world-class programming delivered in new ways.”

Roger Wright, outgoing BBC Radio 3 controller and BBC Proms director, added: “Ten Pieces marks the biggest commitment the BBC has ever made to music education in this country.”

Today’s event also featured performances from Laura Mvula, George Ezra and BBC Young Musician 2014, Martin James Bartlett.

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