The Lark - Ascending?

The Classic FM Hall of Fame 2011

By Sam Jackson

 “Going anywhere nice over Easter?  Taking those three days off afterwards to get a brilliant, long holiday?”  Those are the questions that most of my friends, family and, dare I say it, even a few Classic FM colleagues, have been asking over the last few weeks.  But whilst half the country seems to be heading to the beach or getting stuck in a traffic jam on the A303 somewhere near Stonehenge, there’s no way I could ever convince the boss that now would be a perfect time for me to take some time off.
Heading up all things music-related on Classic FM is a huge privilege – and when the Hall of Fame comes round, I’m reminded again as to why this is the most important and most exciting time of year for all of us who work at the radio station.  It is, after all, the world’s biggest annual survey of classical music tastes – but it’s also great fun.  Here are a few of the highlights of the weekend so far:
1. Kicking off the chart with Mark Forrest on Friday morning.  It’s a real shivers-down-your-spine feeling, knowing that the chart you’ve been putting together, in secret, over the last few weeks, is now going to be heard by millions of listeners.
2. Finding out that Nicholas Owen takes his tea just like me, John Brunning and Anne-Marie Minhall (strong, with milk but no sugar).  I’m not usually in on a Saturday, when Nicholas presents a lunchtime show here, so it’s rare that we get to have a chat over a brew.
3. Seeing what makes the different presenters tick.  They’re a lovely bunch – and whilst Mark will always be poring over the stats, you’ll find Nick searching out the new entries and Anne-Marie immediately wanting to know where her favourites are (Sibelius’s Fifth Symphony and the Grieg Piano Concerto, if memory serves me right).
4. Watching all your comments on Facebook and Twitter, as you get involved in having your say about the Hall of Fame.  Today alone, you’ve been debating the merits of film music and making your feelings known about the brass band lobbying that took place this year.  If you missed any of it, just take a look at facebook/classicfm or to have your say.
5. Reaching the end of the first day, with all the news bulletins having begun on time, all presenters having turned up, and no entries missed along the way.
Sunday sees Jamie Crick and John Brunning arrive for their first Hall of Fame stints – and on Monday, John Suchet will be revealing the all-important No.1, just before 9pm.  Will The Lark Ascending triumph again?  Or could something else take its place?  If I had a pound for every time I’ve read a comment along the lines of “I wish someone would shoot that lark” on Facebook this weekend, I’d be a rich man – but it remains to be seen whether enough people share those sentiments.  I, of course, know the answer – but if I gave it away now, I don’t think I’d ever be allowed into this building again…
Happy listening!

About the author

Sam Jackson

Sam is Classic FM's Managing Editor.…

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6 replies to 'The Classic FM Hall of Fame 2011'

  • Lynne Gordon

    Finally I can sleep at night now HoF is over. Have had very little sleep since last Friday listening in Sydney Australia. Have thoroughly enjoyed the music and been astounded by some surprising results. Have also discovered some new favourites. Great work Classic FM.

  • Martin

    A huge thanks to both you and everyone involved in the production of the Hall of Fame. Once again the countdown has been as exciting as ever!

    Not only did I listen to the whole countdown from start to finish but I had my copy of the Hall of Fame Book to Hand and it was great to flick through and read up on many of the pieces.

    Well done to all for continuing to make The Easter Weekend a very special time for Classical music.

  • elaine james

    HI SAM –

    Great report – I hope you dont read ALL of the comments on facebook lol :)

    Its been great fun again this year and even more exhausting than last year !!!

    Its really good that you all play ball with us so to speak – which stops it being a solo listen for some of us !

    Its a shame there are some spoilsports trying to outwit everyone – i wish they would just chill and go along with it like many of us – but you always get one or two !!!

    Im a fine one to talk lol but much of my cheekiness is just that – a bit of fun especially with ‘you know who’ !!!:)

    Anyway thanks again to everyone there for a great weekend altho its stopped me doing many things which i now have to do overnight!!! But at least i can sleep for the next two days – but wont of course as will be having my say as usual on facebook lol !!!

    Cheers * got to get my special medicine now* to celebrate or drown !!!:)

    x elaine x

  • Stephen Thompson


    I hope you have seen my comments on the HOF this year. Hopefully you will be taking these into account when doing next years HOF. Some glaring errors in calculations and attention to detail.

    • Sam Jackson

      Hello Stephen,

      Thank you for your comments. A whole team of people check and double-check all our facts – but occasionally, an error does slip through. Our presenters are also only human and, once in a while, will say something they didn’t intend to – but that’s the nature of live radio, really. We do appreciate any emails about the Hall of Fame – and, if there are errors anywhere online, we’ll definitely correct them. Thanks for reading – and for listening.

      • Stephen Thompson


        Thank you for your feedback. It was still a fantastic weekend. Congratulations to all of you at ClassicFM for producing this and giving up a weekend when you could all be at home with families. I’ve listened to most of the HOF’s over the years, but have missed some when I’ve had to work nights. This weekend I managed to listen to almost all of it everyday.

        I like to keep a spreadsheet of the HOF for each year. I know it might be sad, but it has given me some challenges in how to calculate the movers over the years. I’ve always been working in IT and see this as a useful exercise. I will gladly send you a copy of the file for you to use next year. As it seems to be right each year I think I do a good job, especially for a team of one.

        All I need to do now is to write a program to take the text version of the file and produce the web pages that I create. Currently I have to ‘cut & paste’.

        See and