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Soul Music

Podcast Soul Music
Podcast Soul Music

Soul Music

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  • A Ceremony of Carols by Benjamin Britten
    In 1942, Benjamin Britten boarded the M.S. Axel Johnson, a Swedish cargo vessel, to make the journey home to England after three years in America. During the voyage, the ship stopped at Halifax, Nova Scotia, where Britten came across a poetry anthology in a bookshop - The English Galaxy of Shorter Poems. In his cabin, he began work on setting some of these poems for voices and harp. Originally conceived as a series of unrelated songs, the piece developed into an extended choral composition for Christmas. There are some pieces of music we return to at special moments and, for many, Britten's A Ceremony of Carols is a beloved winter piece - "Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without a performance of it" says harpist Sally Pryce, who recalls performing the piece in deepest winter, desperately trying to keep her fingers warm as she prepared to play the first harp notes. Music writer Gavin Plumley tells the story of Britten's wartime voyage home and reflects on Christmases past and present. Matt Peacock remembers a very special performance of the work bringing together professional musicians, choristers and people experiencing homelessness in an Oxford college chapel. Dr Imani Mosley reflects on how the piece has helped her create a winter ritual in sunny Florida and how its meaning has changed since losing her partner. Conductor and composer Graham Ross is Director of Music at Clare College, Cambridge; he takes us deep into Britten's sound world and reflects on the genius of his approach to setting texts and the mastery of his writing for harp and voices. And Johanna Rehbaum remembers the joy of singing the work with the women of her choir, days before giving birth to her son. Produced in Bristol by Mair Bosworth for BBC Audio
    12/18/2021
    27:54
  • U2 - I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For
    More gospel than rock, this 1987 hit has inspired great change in people's lives and created memories for music lovers across the world. Brendan McManus was a corporate high flyer with an inexplicable sense that his life needed to change direction. This song was the tipping point that encouraged him to make a huge decision. Raghav Prasad writes a music blog about the songs he grew up with as a young man in India. This track takes him back to the 'chummery' where he lived in Bombay (now Mumbai) when he was starting out on what became a globe-trotting career. This song reflects both his continued urge to travel but also how he regards his Hindu faith. Neil Brand is a musician and broadcaster and a regular Soul Music contributor. He explains that the roots of this track are more gospel than rock. Pauline Henry was the lead singer of The Chimes. Their version of this track, with Pauline's stirring vocals, not only changed her life but was said to be Bono's favourite interpretation of the song. Rory Coleman is a world-class athlete and life coach who loves nothing more than to run for hundreds of miles across inhospitable terrain. However, in his 20s, his life was out of control. Something had to change and this song provided inspiration. Gail Mullin, in Kansas City, describes how much her husband loved U2 and especially this track. Shortly before he died he received a personal letter from Bono explaining what motivated him to write this song. Scroll down on the Soul Music webpage to the 'related links' box for more info about all the guests. Produced for BBC Audio in Bristol by Karen Gregor
    12/11/2021
    27:41
  • Song To The Siren
    "Long afloat in shipless oceans": So begins Song To The Siren whose lyrics were inspired by Homer's Odyssey and the story of the Sirens who lured unwitting sailors to their deaths on the rocks. There is something so ancient and enchanting about the Siren that appeals to us. For the wildlife sound recordist Chris Watson listening to the song reinforced his belief that the eerie calls of seals at night were in fact the original siren voices whose sound and shape convinced sailors that they were being called by strange mer-creatures. His collaboration with poet Alec Finlay led to Chris recording two singers singing to each other across a bay in the North East of England "Here I am waiting to enfold you". Song To The Siren fills him with melancholy. The image of lives lost at sea is one that Meg Bignell strongly associates with the song and when a family friend drowned in the ocean surrounding her native Tasmania she was comforted by the version by This Mortal Coil and Elizabeth Fraser's haunting vocals. Larry Beckett regrets the song's association with death as he intended the lyrics to tell a more hopeful story about love. However Tim Buckley's death at 28 and the tragedy of his son Jeff's drowning in 1997 weigh Song To The Siren with a heavy sorrow that comforts those who have lost a loved one. Former Olympic runner Anthony Famiglietti lost his childhood friend Rob in an accident when they were both 21. Rob introduced Anthony to the music of John Frusciante whose version of Song To The Siren astounded him when he first heard it. It has a profound effect on him and it speaks to him of fathers and sons communicating across time and space, when one has passed on as in the case of Tim and Jeff Buckley, and Anthony's friend Rob and his father, the man who inspired Anthony's career as a runner. When director Zack Snyder lost his daughter he stopped working on his Justice League film but when he completed it four years on he wanted to include Song To The Siren. Singer Rose Betts who recorded it for him explains how she immersed herself in the song to express the love, longing, grief and loss that it evokes. Musician and singer Dominic Stichbury sets out the musical elements that make this such a simple yet devastatingly powerful song. Producer: Maggie Ayre
    12/4/2021
    28:26
  • Unfinished Sympathy
    Personal stories inspired by Massive Attack's breakthrough single. Featuring the vocals of Shara Nelson, the track together with its iconic video would help catapult this band from Bristol onto the global stage. Stories include the photographer Giles Duley whose work was displayed during the song at the band's 2016 homecoming show in Bristol. Mountaineer Dmitry Golovchenko who named an attempt on the Nepalese mountain of Jannu after the track, and solicitor Marti Burgess who saw early sets from The Wild Bunch, the collective from which Massive Attack emerged, and for whom 'Unfinished Sympathy' helped crystallise her identity. Music Producer Ski Oakenfull deconstructs the track, peeling back the layers of beats, bells and samples. Belgian singer Liz Aku recorded a version of the track during lockdown, bringing back memories of her first love. Melissa Chemam, author of 'Massive Attack Out Of The Comfort Zone' explains the origins of Massive Attack, how 'Unfinished Sympathy' was written and why, when the track was released in 1991, the band had to drop the word 'Attack' from their name. A radio producer and DJ who spent New Year's Eve in a detox centre in London was asked to pick the tune to be played at midnight, and she chose 'Unfinished Sympathy'. Produced for BBC Audio in Bristol by Toby Field
    11/27/2021
    27:51
  • Some Enchanted Evening from South Pacific
    Ezio Pinza was the first person to sing Some Enchanted Evening when South Pacific opened on Broadway in 1949. His granddaughter, Sarah Goodyear, recounts his extraordinary life story: from international opera singer, to political prisoner, then a star of musical theatre. Perhaps best known for its 1958 film version, South Pacific famously starred Rossano Brazzi as Emile de Becque. However his singing voice was provided by opera star, Giorgio Tozzi. His son, Eric Tozzi, recalls hearing his father practice Some Enchanted Evening in their California beach-side home. Canan Maxton runs the charity, Talent Unlimited, which supports student musicians. Some Enchanted Evening was the signature tune to her own love story, which inspired her to launch that organisation. Alan Titchmarsh is best known as a TV gardener, but he has a surprisingly good voice. Some Enchanted Evening is a childhood favourite which reminds him of his parents, but he couldn't have foreseen the day when he would sing it live at the London Palladium for an ITV audience (credit to ITV All Star Musicals, produced by Multistory Media for the extract used). Daniel Evans is the Artistic Director of Chichester Festival Theatre. He has recently staged a well-reviewed production of South Pacific; one which explores the racist theme Rodgers and Hammerstein originally sought to address in their Broadway production. He explains the role Some Enchanted Evening plays in the storyline of the show. Julian Ovenden played Emile de Becque in the Chichester production (which, in 2022, will also be staged in Manchester and London before a national tour). He describes what it's like to perform this very famous and much anticipated song. Produced for BBC Audio in Bristol by: Karen Gregor
    11/20/2021
    27:49

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