BBC New Generation gives young musicians a boost

Wed Sep 9, 2009 8:14am EDT
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By Michael Roddy

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - When it comes to defining who the BBC "New Generation" artist program is designed for, it's hard to find anyone more appropriate than violinist Jennifer Pike.

In 2002 at the age of 12, Pike was then the youngest person to win the British broadcaster's "Young Musician of the Year" award. Still not even 20, Pike was in a posh area of London recently to play Elgar's technically demanding violin sonata with all the mastery of a seasoned pro.

"I love this slushy British music," Pike told Reuters after her warmly received performance for a daytime audience at Cadogan Hall, where she was appearing as a "New Generation" artist.

"There's a youthful feeling in it, especially the second movement, a kind of magical quality that's sort of looking back on young lives and that's why I think it's good and quite moving to play when you're young," she added.

Helping young people to play their hearts out and learn the ropes of the intensely competitive classical music business is what the BBC's New Generation Artists program is all about.

Celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, the program has recruited some 70 young musicians representing about 30 nationalities to help them build up their repertoire, learn the ins and outs of recording, but most of all, give them exposure on the radio, in recital halls...getting them out and about to be heard.

Bass-baritone Jonathan Lemalu credits the New Generation program for landing him a recital in one of the smaller halls of that world temple of music, New York's Carnegie Hall -- and as a New Zealand-born Samoan islander, Lemalu had a much longer way to go than most to get there.

"The great thing about the scheme is the resources of the BBC...they have the relationships with European and American venues, so that's how I did my debut recital at Carnegie," Lemalu, 33, whose voice is so powerful it could touch off rockslides, said before he gave the Cadogan audience a sample.   Continued...

<p>Violinist Jennifer Pike poses at The South Bank Show Awards with her Times Breakthrough Award at Dorchester Hotel in London January 29, 2008. REUTERS/Anthony Harvey</p>