BBC Choral Evensong celebrates its 90th anniversary with live broadcast from the Abbey
BBC Radio 3 Choral Evensong celebrates its 90th anniversary this autumn having been the longest-running outside broadcast in radio history. Celebrations include a live broadcast from the Abbey this Wednesday 28th September on the Eve of the Feast of St Michael and All Angels. The service will be sung by the Choir of Westminster Abbey conducted by Organist & Master of the Choristers, James O’Donnell and music will include two 'angelic' favourites - Michael Tippett's 'Plebs Angelica' and William Harris's 'Faire is the heaven'.
Apart from a brief blip in 1970, Choral Evensong has been broadcast every week since the very first transmission. That service was live on the National Programme from Westminster Abbey on Thursday 7th October 1926. Even during the war years Choral Evensong maintained its position in the schedules, although for two years from 1940 to 1942 the venues were not revealed by Radio Times - simply from 'a Public School Chapel' or 'a Western or Northern Cathedral'. Over 80 different cathedrals, churches and chapels have since been visited.
On Wednesday, 5th October, an archive recording will be broadcast of a memorial Evensong which was transmitted live in January 1988 from Holy Trinity Church, Sloane Street, London. It was sung by the BBC Singers and led by members of the then Religious Broadcasting Department in memory of Sir George Thalben-Ball, Music Advisor to the Head of Religious Broadcasting from 1941-1969 and Organist of the Temple Church. This is one of several archive recordings of significant broadcasts which will be aired over a few months on Radio 3 to celebrate the 90th anniversary of a programme which is now heard every week by over a quarter of a million listeners.
All are welcome to Choral Evensong on Wednesday 28th September. The congregation are asked to be seated by 3.15pm. The programme is live on BBC Radio 3 at 3.30pm, repeated on Sunday 2nd October at 3.00pm and available for 30 days on iPlayer.