Welcome to London 1958

So, the Tour de France is over and I think we all did very well. Congratulations to Bradley Wiggins for becoming the first Brit ever to with Le Tour – its 99th outing. And also to Mark Cavendish for winning the final stage on the Champs Elysées. And to me for watching more of it on TV this year than, probably, ever.

And now of course we’re into tthe Olympics. We’ve already watched the Mens’ and Womens’ Cycling Road Race out on the road near Hampton Court and we’re looking forward to the Time Trials on Wednesday over at Hampton Court Palace. We have tickets for the Water Polo (yes, honest) in a couple of weeks’ time. Other than that, we’ll watch some of the other sports on TV until interest waivers, or naff or inept commentary or inane or disrespectful interviews drive us away. Yeah, well, I mean, it was amazing.

But what’s going on on radio? There’s a ‘new’ Tony Hancock sketch on Radio 4 Extra which I’m looking forward too.

BBC Radio 4 Extra – Hancock’s Half Hour, Welcome to London 1958.

The Proms are in full swing but I have discovered that listening to a classical music concert while I’m out walking the streets doesn’t really work. The volume has to be quite high so you can hear the quiet passages and then of course, it’s far too loud during the loud sections. But at home, I’ve enjoyed again some Beethoven symphonies so far and some strange music by Sibelius.

BBC – Proms – BBC Proms homepage.

If you’re quick, ie, within 10 hours or so of pressing the ‘Publish’ button on this thing, you can listen to a dramatisation of Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson. I haven’t heard it yet: I’m saving it for a rainy day.

Treasure Island.



The Verb – Radio 3

Highly recommended for a weekly dose of poetry, prose, humour, drama and maybe some music.

In recent weeks, we’ve heard Simone Felice talking about his literally near-death experience, as well as Seth Lakeman, probably my favourite Devon-based folk musician.

Gary Numan is on soon, and he was very interesting recently on Jools Holland’s programme on Radio 2.

The host, Ian McMillan is a fantastic poet, sometimes reminding me of the Mersey Sound poets from the 1960s, such as Roger McGough. I was going to reproduce one of his poems here, but decided, instead, to point you to Ian McMillan’s own site.

BBC Radio 3 – The Verb.

BBC – Proms –

The first thing you need to know is: tickets for this years Prom Concerts go on sale tomorrow, Saturday 12th May, at 9.00am.

But before then, you’ll need to decide which ones you want to see. So here’s the link you need …

BBC – Proms – BBC Proms homepage.

I’ve had a quick look and there are  a few concerts (funny how it’s ‘concerts’ for classical music and ‘gigs’ for modern music) that I’d like to see, time and finances permitting.

I suspect I’ll listen to most of these and many more on Radio 3.

My Fair Lady – July 14. Well, we all like the songs, and they won’t mind if we sing along, I’m sure.

Beethoven symphonies 5 and 6 – July 23. Well, alright, I’d like to see all of them, I think he’s my favourite composer, but I do like these two in particular.

The Wallace and Gromit Prom: Musical Marvels – July 29. This includes a showing of A Matter of Loaf and Death, screened for the first time with a live orchestra. Magic.

BBC Radio 3 World Routes Academy – July 31. We’ve heard him on the show a few times, but this is a great chnace to see their apprentice José Hernando Arias Noguera play his accordion live.

Delius, Saint-Saëns and Tchaikovsky – August 14. In paticular, I like Tchaik’s fifth symphony. And it’s always good to hear other, unfamiliar music.

Gilbert and Sullivan: The Yeoman of the Guard – August 19. Well, we all like the songs, and they won’t mind if we sing along, I’m sure. Ahem.

Family Matinee: A journey to Far Corners of tour Musical World – August 27. I’ve always been a fan of Amadou and Mariam.

Desert Island Discs – 70th Anniversary – September 3. This is one of my favourite radio shows, and it looks like this show will be a good mix of selections from the programme.

Bruckner 9th Symphony and Beethoven Piano Concerto no 4 – September 6. Never seen either of these played live. Now’s my chance.

That’s my ‘short-list’. Good luck to you if you’re buying tickets tomorrow!



World on 3

This is another weekly programme on Radio 3 that takes us all around the world to eavesdrop on some interesting and very different music.

The mostv recent sjhow featured a session by American singer/songwriter Anais Mitchell. I saw her in concert a couple of years ago and must admit, it took a while to get used to the quality of her voice. But the depth of her songs and the her performance of them is quite captivating.

The programme varies in length from one to two hours, so there’s almost certainly something every week that really stands out.

Recently, they broadcast a series of programmes from Celtic Connections, presented by Mary Ann Kennedy. Her fondness for her native Scottish music, as well as other Celtic traditions shines through the radio.

The other main presenter is Lopa Kothari, equally interesting and informative. You’d never guess that she was once an investment banker. But that’s enough name-calling.

For the last few years, there has been tremendous coverage from the Womad Festival too.

The programme often reminds me of Charlie Gillett – who presented it occasionally.

BBC – BBC Radio 3 Programmes – World on 3.

World Routes

I’ve been listening to World Routes on Radio 3, on and off, for a few years now. I think it was the late and much missed Charlie Gillett who alerted me to it all those years ago. I was thinking about him this morning: it’s almost two years since he died, and it’s lovely that he’s remembered by presenters such as Bob Harris and Lucy Doran, both of whom have mentioned him in recent shows.

Over the last couple of days, I’ve been catching up on World Routes: I have a bit of a backlog, but I should catch up within a day or two. I can typically listen to three hours of radio while I’m at work 😉

One of he more recent programme I heard today was broadcast just over a week ago. It featured Mexican duo Rodrigo y Gabriela playing a couple of songs and in conversation with Lucy Duran.

Unfortunately, you can’t listen to the programme on the BBC iPlayer, as it’s over 7 days old. Which is a bit disappointing, as there are several much older programmes still available.

Two of which I also listened to today. The main appeal of the programme is, of course the wide variety of music from all over the world. But sometimes, I am introduced to people that I’d not heard of before, and whose stories are fascinating in the own right.

Today, I learned about two very inspirational women: totally different backgrounds, totally different life stories, but equally fascinating.

In the first, Lucy Duran explored the archive of pioneering ethnomusicologist Jean Jenkins. In the 1960s and 1970s, before I was even aware of such a thing as ‘world music’, she was travelling the world, recording the local music on the best recording equipment available.

Read more on the programme, see photos and listen while you can: The Jean Jenkins Archive.

The second woman was mentioned almost in passing during a show from The Jerusalem International Oud Festival 2011. Roza Eskenazi is (I learned) known as Queen of the Greek Blues. Born a Greek Jew in the 1890s, she enjoyed a singing careen from the 1920s through to the 1970s.

During the Second World War, and the German occupation of Greece, she managed to hide her Jewish identity, helped other Jews and resistance fighters, even sheltering English agents in her home, and all the while having a relationship with a German officer.

The programme featured a tribute to Roza, and as is often the case, knowing the background to the songs renders the songs all the more powerful.

More about the programme here – and this one is still available on the iPlayer.

So, overall, a highly recommmended Sunday afternoon listen:

BBC Radio 3 – World Routes

Celtic Connections 2012

Celtic Connections is, I believe, the first music festival of the year. Actually, it’s described thus:

“Scotland’s premier winter music festival. Held in Glasgow and featuring favorite acts and the best new talent in more than 300 events over 18 days including concerts, ceilidhs, workshops, club-nights, and talks.”

I’m in England so I don’t see or hear much about the festival, but I did catch some of the output on BBC Radio 2 and Radio 3.

But again <rant mode on> radio is treated badly compared with TV.

As I write, just one of the Radio 3 programmes is still available on the iPlayer. This is due to the default 7 day limit. However, there is a lot of video available. Which is great. Much of the festival was shown on TV in Scotland. but not here in England. So while it’s great to see it online, it would have been nice to see some, at the time.

This morning, I listened to Gerry Rafferty Remembered, a tribute to Gerry who died about a year ago. I was surprised that I recognised so many songs, even though I haven’t heard them for many years. But it was a lovely show, very respectful, and I’ll keep it for a while, even if the BBC can’t.

I’m also (very belatedly) listening to the four World on 3 programmes broadcast on Radio 3. There were two programmes on Radio 2, but I only heard one of them.

It’s possibly a moving target, but this is the BBC’s Celtic Connections homepage so nip over there, and catch at least some of it while you can.