Classic Mornings

“B” Is For Broadcasting

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They’re not like the ABCs of your childhood. And I can’t imagine you’ll find a catchy tune for remembering them.

When you were learning ABCs, you were introduced to the world of sounds and words, listening, speaking and reading. Eventually, you discovered how much those things were a part of radio. Well, even if you hadn’t thought about that, you could have guessed that I was going to point you in that direction.

But there’s a reason for it. Let me introduce an ABCs-type game that I found myself playing last week. I call it the ”All Broadcast Corporations (ABC) Game.” 

Just like ABCs, you begin with those three letters and search online to discover public broadcasters around the world. Unfortunately, “ABC” is a tough one to begin with. As you might have guessed, a major commercial network appears – a broadcast “company.”  But, after a few pages of entries, you’ll arrive at Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Substitute "B" for "A" in your search. Yes, it’s the BBC: the British Broadcasting Corporation. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation follows.

Then it gets a little tricky. You have to add words like ”news” or “media,’ since there are lots of non-broadcasters using trios of letters ending in “BC” as well.  But that’s part of the fun. I didn’t say the game was as easy as ABCs. And since you’re well beyond those, you’d want something more challenging too, right?

Among those that I found are EBC (Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation), GBC (Gibralter Broadcasting Corporation), JBC (Jamaican Broadcasting Corporation – no longer operating), KBC (Kenya Broadcasting Corporation), MBC (Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation, South Korea) NBC (Namibian Broadcasting Corporation – that was a tough one to find too. It took scrolling down many, many pages).

I think you get the idea. I’ll leave most of the second half of the alphabet for you to explore. Why shouldn’t you have some fun?  After all, I invited you to play.

What brought this to mind was the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the BBC last Tuesday (October 18). And as we continue to celebrate the centennial of WILL-AM 580, it was just another reminder that we began broadcasting more than 6 months before the BBC formed, and 7 months before they began broadcasting. That was in November, 1922.

I asked Classic Mornings listeners if they knew their “BBCs.”  That’s not as adventurous a game. But it is a great trivia question, which those who listen regularly to classical music on WILL-FM may be able to answer. By “BBCs,” I mean music ensembles that are a part of the BBC.

Here they are: BBC Concert Orchestra, BBC Philharmonic, BBC Symphony Orchestra, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and BBC National Orchestra of Wales. You’d get points for mentioning BBC Singers, BBC Symphony Chorus and BBC Big Band.  I also came upon 9 other ensembles that no longer exist.  I’ll save those for your searching.

The establishment of the BBC was just one of three centennials we celebrated on three consecutive days.  Last Wednesday was the centennial of the first performance of Maurice Ravel’s orchestration of Modest Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition. Ravel wasn’t the first to orchestrate the piano work. But his is the most famous of all the orchestrations.  Serge Koussevitzky led the premiere in Paris on October 19,1922.

We celebrated the third centennial last Monday, and it was the most fun to discover, simply because there was no listing for it. I came upon it by chance while glancing at the credits of pianist Jorge Bolet’s recording of Franz Liszt’s Venezia e Napoli (Venice and Naples). It was nearly 40 years ago when Bolet was in London - in Kingsway Hall - recording that music. I was curious about Kingsway Hall.  So, I did a little investigating.

I learned at the City of London website that this year marks the centenary of the building of Kingsway Hall.  Originally, it was a part of the West London Mission of the Methodist Church.  Though the hall was designed for worship, its acoustics made it an attractive place for recording classical and film music.

Now comes the bad news. Recording ceased the year Jorge Bolet recorded that music (1983). And 15 years later, Kingsway Hall was torn down. They go on to say that a hotel was built on the site and that the hotel desk is located where musicians once recorded.

It still was a centennial celebration. On the program, I was nice enough to hold the news about the demolition until after playing the lovely barcarolle that opens the work by Liszt. It may have been the first time we’ve celebrated a milestone anniversary for a recording venue that no longer exists. Why not?

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