See hightlights of the Radio 2 Piano Room

Saturday:The Radio 2 Piano Room: (BBC2, 6.45pm)

Even during the lockdown when live music was scarce, Radio 2 did its best to keep us going, with its House Music Sessions, which saw artists collaborating remotely with the BBC Concert Orchestra.

Now musicians are allowed to be in the same room together, the station decided to celebrate by turning February into Piano Room Month.

Broadcast as part of Ken Bruce’s morning show (although regular listeners will be relieved to know it didn’t interrupt the daily Popmaster quiz), it saw artists performing three tracks – a new song, a classic and cover – alongside members of the aforementioned BBC Concert Orchestra.

Veteran DJ Ken thought it was just the thing to cheer up a traditionally dreary month, saying: “I predict cold, rain and possibly even a smattering of snow this February – so what better remedy than to sit back with a warm brew and join me and some of the finest musicians in the world for Radio 2’s Piano Room Month.”

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Even if you didn’t take him up on that invitation, it’s not too late. The sessions were also recorded for the BBC’s iPlayer, and now this programme is bringing us some of the highlights.

Perhaps the biggest star to take part (he was notably saved for the final session) was Ed Sheeran. Since releasing his debut album in 2011, the all-conquering singer-songwriter has gone on to sell more than 150 million records worldwide, and according to Spotify, he was the second most-streamed artist of the 2010s.

His success continued in 2021, when he released the UK’s second-best selling album of the year. Only Adele kept him from the top spot, but he did manage to out-sell the newly reformed Abba, who had to settle for number three.

So, nabbing him for a Piano Room session was something of a coup for Radio 2, and it’s no surprise that he’s included in these highlights.

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However, it was far from a one-man show. As befits the sometimes mind-bogglingly eclectic Radio 2 output, there was an impressive array of acts taking part, ranging from Simple Minds and Clean Bandit to Will Young, who was celebrating the 20th anniversary of his Pop Idol win, and recent Masked Singer champion Natalie Imbruglia.

Speaking of reality show favourites, these highlights also include The Voice judge Ann-Marie. There’s also music from Joy Crookes and Emeli Sande, who in addition to belting out a song around the old Joanna will also be presenting tonight’s impressive line-up.

But while the pop stars may be taking top billing, we shouldn’t forget the incredible musicians who will be collaborating with them.

So, the last word goes to Bill Chandler, Director BBC Concert Orchestra, who says: “The BBC Concert Orchestra takes great pride in its Radio 2 home and is excited to collaborate with such a range of world-class musicians for its Piano Room Month. As the UK’s most versatile orchestra, we’re thrilled to help bring these extra-special live performances to audiences.”

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