When did your love of classical music begin?
With Classic FM actually! I was working as a broadcast journalist in the East Midlands and I remember tuning in on the morning of 7 September 1992 to hear the opening of the first national commercial radio station. It was an extraordinary moment in broadcasting history. The opening piece played on-air was Handel’s Zadok the Priest and my discovery of classical music started there and is still ongoing.
You started your career at Trent FM in Nottingham…can you tell us more about your journey into broadcasting?
The sheer wonder of radio for me started at an early age and, after being fortunate enough to be able to train at a fantastic local station in Nottingham, I headed south to work for Independent Radio News in London. It was from there that I got the opportunity to read the news on Classic FM before moving into music presentation. Learning about and listening to the works of these great composers was a revelation. The journalistic bones in me also found their life stories intriguing. The details of how they lived day to day, my word; Shostakovich testing the efficiency of his local postal service by sending letters to his home address. Ralph Vaughan Williams happy to be wearing odd socks and Sibelius going missing ahead of conducting a concert in Gothenburg in search of oysters and Champagne. I retain these nuggets of information but still fail in recalling where I left my hairbrush this morning.
There must be lots of highlights after working at Classic FM for 25 years…can you tell us a few?
There are many for sure and here we are looking forward to celebrating our 30th anniversary in 2022. To be part of this Classic FM and Global family and to share the music with our listeners, is a joy and a privilege. Through the years I have also been so fortunate in getting the chance to interview many folk; people like Luciano Pavarotti, Sir Paul McCartney, Alfred Brendel, Sir Simon Rattle, Renée Fleming …I’ve had many ‘pinch me’ moments. I’m a lucky girl.
What are you most looking forward to about presenting the BSO’s ‘Classical Extravaganza’ this summer?
To be back enjoying live music with the wonderful BSO and to be welcoming back an audience to Lighthouse, Poole. What this orchestra has achieved during these times has been amazing; the pioneering series of livestreamed symphonic concerts has kept our spirits high. A fantastic evening of music-making awaits us. If you can’t be with us on the night in Lighthouse, there’s a digital livestream and it’s free and available for 30 days post-concert.
How has music helped you during these difficult times?
Music, yes. Hasn’t it helped us through these days. Seven in ten people surveyed have said that orchestral music improved their mood and wellbeing in lockdown. At Classic FM, we’ve always thought of our listeners as family and I hope that the music and the presenters have brought respite, comfort and company over the last year and a half especially when many people have had their lives changed radically. On Classic FM Requests we’ve been receiving messages from near and far and connecting families and friends who couldn’t be together. For me, it’s been the music of Vaughan Williams, Mozart, Dvorak and Tchaikovsky that I’ve turned to. Light music by Leroy Anderson has also been a joy to rediscover. I have been reminded of classical music’s power to calm, soothe and uplift in the most difficult of times.