The Classic FM Hall of Fame 2011By 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 twitter.com/classicfm 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…