Radio 3's Eclectic Late Junction is Ten
And so we are ten. Ten years of the wind whistling through telegraph wires in the Australian outback, Mongolian throat singers galloping across the plains, delicate kora playing plucking at the heartstrings of the the African soul, a resurgence of English fiddle tunes and ballads, panting Inuit singing competitions, Scandinavian jazz and fiery flamenco. We've fed the soul with Coptic chanting, shape-note Quaker hymns, Mauritanian praise songs, funeral rituals and wedding dances.
We've driven listeners insane with relentless plays of Gavin Bryars' Jesus' Blood or Charlemagne Palestine's single chords. We've introduced Beethoven and Schubert to Tom Waits or Scott Walker. We've gone out in search of the music, we've brought musicians to us. Womad memories - the great Geoffrey Oryema's heartfelt singing late one dark July night, the eagle wings of Mari Boine. We've suffered the Glasgow cold in January for Celtic Connections and filled our studios with warm and generous bands and a wee dram or two.
It really is as simple as that, a passion for music, an urge to discover, a liking for the rather weird, enormous respect for musicians and a love of our loyal engaging listeners. From Day 1 you've been with us on this journey, sharing your albums with us, playing air guitar alongside us, writing us poems, telling us your secrets, your dreams, your heartaches. We've given you music for the birth of your children, dried your tears in times of need, held your hands with our music at funerals. We've emptied your bank accounts as you rush to buy what you've heard.
It began with Radio 3 Controller Roger Wright's dream of a programme which could bring together the sax playing of Jan Garbarek and Bulgarian chanting. We must have given him some wild dreams at times! Would it last two years I wondered? But here I am ten years later loving the music more than ever. True my house might be suffering subsidence under the weight of CDs, but I've also sat by a fjord in the early hours of a summer morning touched by the beauty of music, and stood in a crowd of thousands in Italy with hundreds of tambourines being thrown into the air in wild exuberance and joy in music making. When cancer struck, I wouldn't let Late Junction go, it was as much my lifeline as the drip, drip of the chemotherapy drugs.
Ten years of producers with a passion and willingness to explore this musical world, who beam with delight when they surprise us with some exquisite Georgian field recordings, or some archive Cornelius Cardew. The LJ team is aboard a ship which sails to unknown places through uncharted waters. And now we are ten.
And the artists we've brought together for our tenth birthday celebration? Stian Carstensen? The zaniest, craziest, most imaginative, inventive, weirdest, most musical accordion/banjo/lap-steel/kaval player/singer/raconteur and comedian I know, partnered with virtuoso fiddler Ola Kvernberg. You'll also hear eclectic experimentalist Max de Wardener, pianist Huw Warren and three members of Roots Union, overheard recently from the back of a pub in Sidmouth by Verity Sharp.
- The anniversary programme was recorded in the BBC's historic Maida Vale studios in London last night. You can listen again for seven days.
- Stian Carstensen has been performing in public for a long time. Ola Kvernberg has his own trio and has a record out.
- Max de Wardener is on MySpace and on the BBC Music web site. So is Huw Warren (and here's his MySpace page).
- The Roots Union are based in Exeter. You can hear several more tracks by the band on Radio Devon's Introducing web site.
- The pictures were taken at the recording, by Steve Bowbrick.