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Illumination

Duration:
1 hour
First broadcast:
Sunday 31 May 2009

Poetry, prose and music on the theme of illumination, with readings by Sian Thomas and Jamie Glover. Including works by Rimbaud, Jo Shapcott and Margaret Atwood with accompanying music by Thomas Ades, Arvo Part and Schubert.

  • Producer's Notes

    From the Renaissance to the twenty-first century illumination is something human beings have sought. It can herald the triumphant dawn of knowledge or ignite the fuse of imagination. Sian Thomas and Jamie Glover explore the theme of Illumination through poetry and prose from Arthur Rimbaud and Jo Shapcott to Margaret Atwood and Dylan Thomas with music by the likes of Thomas Ades, Arvo Pärt and Nick Cave.

    I wanted to take an impressionistic approach to the subject beginning with dawn and the rising sun. As morning comes, the world awakens and we begin to contemplate the light of love and beauty. Benjamin Britten's Being Beauteous is itself a response to Arthur Rimbaud's Illuminations - a collection which includes the poem that opens the programme: Dawn.

    Light is commonly associated with religious knowledge and belief which we explore through traditional classical music such as John Rutter's Hymn to the Creator of Light and more popular gospel music from the 'original soul sister', Rosetta Tharpe. But with light comes a metaphorical darkness: death, decay and the horror of war are brought to light in the poems of Dylan Thomas and Tony Harrison.


    I chose Arvo Pärt's Tabula Rasa to close the programme as to me it seems to represent the illumination of knowledge: the piece takes a phrase and repeats it throughout the movement, becoming more elaborate until it builds with a crescendo at the end.

  • Playlist

    00:00
    Thomas Ades,
    Darkness Visible
    Thomas Ades - piano
    EMI CDZ5696992

    01:27
    Arthur Rimbaud
    Dawn
    Jamie Glover - reader

    02:53
    Handel
    Oh First Created Beam
    University of Utah Symphonic Chorale
    Utah Symphony Orchestra

    03:40
    Mary Oliver
    Summer Morning
    Sian Thomas - reader

    06:18
    Somhairle MacGill-Eain
    Lights
    Jamie Glover - reader

    06:55
    Nick Cave
    Breathless
    MUTE ACDStumm233

    10:05
    Philip Glass
    Opening, Glassworks
    Michael Riesman - piano
    SONY CLASSICAL SMK87968

    12:18
    William Golding
    Darkness Visible
    Sian Thomas - reader

  • ......

    16:26
    Kate Bush
    Prelude
    EMI B000BEPLUE


    17:28
    Emily Dickinson
    The Gleam of an Heroic Act
    Sian Thomas - reader


    17:49
    Benjamin Britten
    Being Beauteous
    Heather Harper - soprano
    Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
    Sir Charles Groves - conductor
    BBC Radio Classics 1565691582

    21:19
    John Keats
    On First Looking into Chapman's Homer
    Jamie Glover - reader

    22:17
    Sister Rosetta Tharpe
    Beams of Heaven
    Proper PROPERBOX51

    25:39
    Alexander Pope
    An Essay on Criticism
    Sian Thomas - reader

    26:29
    Joseph Haydn
    Die Schöpfung
    Ann Monoyios - soprano
    Jörg Hering - tenor
    Harry van der Kamp - bass
    SONY CLASSICAL SX2K57965

    31:46
    Jo Shapcott
    Night Work
    Sian Thomas - reader

    32:18
    John Rutter
    Hymn to the Creator of Light
    Choir of Kings College Cambridge
    City of London Sinfonia
    Robert Quinney (organ scholar)
    Stephen Cleobury
    EMI CLASSICS CDC 5566052

  • ......

    36:08
    Tony Harrison
    Initial illumination
    Tony Harrison - reader

    39:28
    John Tavener
    Ikon of Light
    The Tallis Scholars
    GIMMEL CDGIM005

    43:15
    Margaret Atwood
    Solipsism While Dying
    Sian Thomas - reader

    44:13
    Claude Debussy
    Nocturnes
    Philharmonia Orchestra
    Ambrosian Singers
    CBS Masterworks CD37832


    48:43
    Dylan Thomas
    Light breaks where no sun shines
    Jamie Glover - reader

    50:26
    Arvo Pärt
    Tabula Rasa
    Gidon Kremer and Tatjana Grindenko - solo violins
    Reinut Tepp - prepared piano
    Eri Klas - conductor
    NONESUCH 7559795822

    54:30
    David Morley
    The Mathematics of Light
    Jamie Glover - reader

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