When professional BASCA member, Fiona Bennett, launched an online campaign to get her music into Classic FM’s ‘Hall of Fame’, she could never have imagined the eventual outcome. Every year, the world’s biggest classical music station asks its listeners to vote for their top three favourite pieces of music. They add up the votes and announce the Top 300 over the Easter weekend, beginning on Good Friday morning at 9am and ending at 9pm on Easter Monday.
Fiona says: “I released ‘A Country Suite’ in 2012. I was pretty sure it would appeal to the Classic FM audience so I sent copies to all their presenters and producers. However, it’s not quite as easy as that and within a year or so, I realised asking my friends and family to request the music was not going to work, as I wasn’t on the official playlist”.
Fiona began advertising on Classic FM in the spring of 2014 but could only afford to run the adverts for nine weeks.
She says: “It definitely helped raise my profile as a composer of light classical music but as soon as the ads ended, so did the sales. I was back to square one.”
Newbury-based Chinese businessman Bob Rae (and Fiona’s ex-husband), helped her re-launch the advertising campaign in the autumn of 2014. This time, they created a flash mob video of Fiona playing ‘The Landscape’ on the St Pancras station piano with five pairs of waltzing dancers swirling around behind her.
Fiona says: “This created quite a stir and the interest began all over again. When a friend told me she had been able to vote for me in the Classic FM ‘Hall of Fame’, I realised I had to maximise this opportunity so for two months, I did nothing but Tweet, Facebook, e-mail, phone and write letters to get people to vote for ‘A Country Suite’”.
Fiona’s ambition was finally realised on Good Friday morning. “I was feeding my dogs when I heard John Suchet announce ‘A Lad and a Lass’ was at number 299; I was so shocked, I dropped all the dog bowls into the sink!” Her success continued when a couple of hours later she heard that ‘Tempus Fugit’ was in at number 273. She adds: “At around 8pm on the Saturday night, it was finally revealed that ‘The Landscape’ had entered the Top 300 at number 154. For an unknown composer, this is quite amazing”.
Fiona is described on the Classic FM website as ‘a major new presence in the 2015 Hall of Fame’. Her new album ‘The New Lady Radnor Suite’ is due out next month. She says: “I am stunned at the amount of support I have received and I would like to thank each and every person who voted for ‘A Country Suite’ – that is one Easter Bank Holiday I will never forget”.