CBC goes live with new online classical channels and completely redesigned website

250 Front St. W. after the 2008 protest against cuts to CBC classical programming

The CBC has quietly gone live with a totally revamped website and online music offerings at cbcmusic.ca, ahead of tomorrow’s scheduled official launch.

This is a huge change, meant to do several different things, starting with bringing CBC Radio, TV and web offerings together under one easy-to-navigate tent. The new site integrates the latest in social media tools, offers all manner of on-demand programming, video and audio as well as community tie-ins, like concert calendars by artist or city.

For classical music fans, who have spent the last four years virtually cursing and spitting on the ground at the loss of several hours of classical programming a day on Radio 2, as well as the near-total disappearance of arts programming from CBC Television, this is supposed to promise new ways of connecting with their favourite listening, artists and concerts.

There are now 10 classical “stations” at the CBC: Radio 2, Essential Classics, Opera, Baroque, Modern Masters, Orchestral, Piano, Glenn Gould, CBC Records and Canadian Composers. As I type this, late Canadian composer Ann Southam’s Seastill is playing on the last channel.

It’s not like real radio, though, because there isn’t a host to provide little bits of commentary or insight, nor is there a way of directly getting information on the piece or composer or artist currently playing. I have to go looking elsewhere if I want to know who Ann Southam was, when she wrote Seastill or, even more importantly in terms of the usual information one would hear on the radio: who is performing, or when the performance took place (or was recorded).

The old Concerts on Demand have been integrated, along with a variety of special concert video footage, which can also be accessed via CBC Music’s YouTube channel.

There is a lot to browse and check out on what is still labelled a “beta” site. There’s a lot missing, which will no doubt get filled in over the coming weeks and months.

Because the CBC’s new online presence is supposed to be community focused — by interest as well as other affiliations, including location — each reader’s or listener’s input is part of its development. Constructive criticism should lead to constructive engagement.

We just need to hope that there are the means and the will at the public broadcaster to follow through with all of these great promises.

Robert Rowat, the new community producer for the classical channels, has posted his words of welcome as “Classical music thrives at CBC Music.” It’s well worth checking out.

I have a blog entry on the new site, here, on tonight’s Grammy awards. The broadcaster is also marshalling a wide range of online commentators to produce live chat during tonight’s awards’ ceremony, here.

Here, courtesy of CBC Music, is J.S. Bach’s French Suite No. 4, in E-flat Major, performed by Angela Hewitt at Koerner Hall:

John Terauds


One thought on “CBC goes live with new online classical channels and completely redesigned website

  1. Robert Rowat:
    Terrible TERRIBLE faults with Essential Classics Internet:
    2. PLEASE insert a pause of around 10 seconds between items. One needs time to adjust one’s senses.
    3. MAKE SURE that the loudness level of the occasional announcement is never higher than the music level. If anything make it lower. And have the announcer’s voice match the music in quality (Like Sheila Rogers or Tom Allen). And DELETE all Farmyard Cackle!
    4. Be sensitive to the sequencing of pieces played, making them more in harmony with each other. Take a queue from Radio Suisse Classique for overall QUALITY of presentation.

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