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On Now : The Verb
Rebecca Front, Ruth Padel, Caroline Bergvall
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The Ark

Duration:
1 hour, 15 minutes
First broadcast:
Sunday 20 September 2009

What does the story of The Ark mean to us today? Is it a Darwinian fable about survival? Is it a prophecy of impending ecological disaster? Or is it a blunt cautionary tale for an ungodly age?However you choose to read it, the tale of Noah and his Ark has proved perennially fascinating.

Blake and Milton jostle for space in the hold of our virtual ark with comic turns from Chaucer, Julian Barnes and Stanley Holloway amongst others, while actors Claire Skinner and Andrew Scott keep things shipshape. The musical animals are of the highest pedigree too - so count on hearing from Britten, Saint Saens, Bruch and Rossini.

As a concession to modernity, you can listen to the programme on your own if you insist but if you're really going to enter into the spirit of the enterprise, you should pair off with someone else - 'two by two' was, after all, the traditional arrangement.

  • Producer's note

    What does the story of The Ark mean to us today? If we have any notion of Noah and his vessel at all it's likely to feature a troupe of well scrubbed, domesticated animals making a stately progress towards a cosy ark watched by a benign greybeard with a rainbow in the background.

    No mention of man’s wickedness or God’s wrath... nothing in fact to explain that the rainbow is an emblem of God’s covenant with those who survive the Flood.

    Then there’s the question of what it all means. Is it a blunt cautionary tale for an ungoldy age? Is it a Darwinian fable about survival? Or could it be a prophecy of impending ecological disaster? However you choose to read it the tale of Noah and his Ark has proved perennially fascinating.

    Noah's voyage from God's anger to landfall on Mount Ararat is the journey of mankind but also of man. Few of us are wholly unfamiliar with the shame of howling moral decay and the salvation of new beginnings; few of us have resisted the temptation to disguise our fear with laughter.

  • .

    This evening Blake and Milton jostle for space in the hold of our virtual ark with comic turns from Chaucer, Julian Barnes and Stanley Holloway amongst others while the actors Claire Skinner and Andrew Scott keep things shipshape.

    The musical animals are of the highest pedigree too - so count on hearing from Britten, Saint Saens, Bruch and Rossini. As a concession to modernity its been decided that you can listen to the programme on your own if you insist; but if you're really going to enter into the spirit of the enterprise you should pair off with someone else - "two by two" was, after all, the traditional arrangement - and in any case having some company is probably very welcome if you’re sitting waiting for the Deluge.

  • Playlist

    Performer: The 1989 Chester and Salisbury Festivals Production with Richard Hickox
    Name of piece: Noyes Fludde
    Composer: Benjamin Britten
    From CD: Noye’s Fludde, Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings
    CD Code: Virgin Classics CUV5611222
    Track on CD: 1 and 2

    Extract from The Bible – King James version.
    From Genesis, chapter 6 verses 5-8
    Reader: Andrew Scott

    Performer: Golden Gate Quartet
    Title: Noah
    Composer: Golden Gate Quartet
    Name of CD: Golden Gate Jubilee Quartet
    CD Code: DOCUMENT DOCD5474
    Track on CD: 2

    Author: Julian Barnes
    Name: From The Stowaway
    From: A History of the World in Ten and a Half Chapters
    Reader: Claire Skinner

    Performer: Yan Pascal Tortelier and City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra under Louis Fremaux
    Title: Prelude to Le Deluge
    Composer: Saint Saens
    Name of CD: Saint Saens: Cello Concerto
    CD Code: EMI CDM7693862
    Track on CD: 7

  • .

    Author: Elizabeth Kolbert
    Under the Glacier
    From: Field Notes from a Catastrophe
    Reader: Claire Skinner

    Author: James Lovelock
    From Forecasts for the 21st Century
    From: The Revenge of Gaia
    Reader: Andrew Scott

    Performer: BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra conductor Ilan Volkov
    Title: Tevot
    Composer: Thomas Ades
    Not commercially available.

    The Bible – King James Version
    Genesis, Chapter 6 verses 19-20
    Reader: Claire Skinner

    Performer: Katia and Marielle Labeque
    Title: Concerto for two pianos and orchestra
    Composer: Max Bruch
    Name of CD: Mendelssohn, Bruch, Concertos for two Pianos and Orchestra
    CD Code: Philips 4320952
    Track on CD: 4

    Author: Jay MacPherson
    Title: Ark to Noah
    From: The Boatman and other poems
    Reader: Claire Skinner

  • .

    Sound effects: Bearded Seals
    Name of CD: Ocean of Sound
    CD Code: AMBT 10
    Track: 10

    Author: Jay MacPherson
    Title: Ark Apprehensive
    From: The Boatman and Other Poems
    Reader: Claire Skinner

    Performer: Stanley Holloway
    Title: The ‘Ole in the Ark
    Composer: Edgar Marriott
    Name of CD: Stanley Holloway – Comedy Classics
    CD Code: EMI CDECC16
    Track on CD: 18 ON CD 1

    Author: D.H.Lawrence
    Title: From “Fish”
    From: D.H.Lawrence – Poems selected by Tom Paulin
    Reader: Andrew Scott

    Performer: Elizabeth Schwarzkopf and Victoria De Los Angeles
    Title: Duetto Buffo di due gatti
    Composer: attrib. Rossini
    Name of CD: A Tribute to Gerald Moore
    CD Code: EMI CDC 7494382
    Track: 7

    Author: St Augustine
    Extract from Book XV, Chapter 26
    From: City of God
    Translator : Marcus Dods
    Reader: Andrew Scott

    Performer: Pinchas Zukerman and Jose Luis Garcia and English Chamber Orchestra
    Title: Double Violin Concerto
    Composer: J.S.Bach
    Name of CD: Bach Violin Concertos - Zukerman
    CD Code: RCA RD60718
    Track: 12

  • .

    Author: William Blake
    From publications of The William Blake Society
    From Blake’s notes to Lavater’s Aphorisms
    Reader: Andrew Scott

    Performer: Eric Weissberg and Steve Mandell
    Title: Duelling Banjos
    Composer: Arthur Smith
    Name of CD: Film 2000
    CD Code: VIRGIN VTDCD328
    Track: 11 on CD2

    Author: Geoffrey Chaucer
    Title: From The Miller’s Tale
    From: The Canterbury Tales
    Translator : Nevill Coghill
    Reader: Claire Skinner

    The Bible – King James version
    Genesis, Chapter 7 verses 18-23
    Reader: Andrew Scott

    Performer: Gyorgy and Marta Kurtag
    Title: Gottes Zeit ist die allerbeste Zeit
    Composer: J.S.Bach
    Name of CD: Jatekok
    CD Code: ECM New Series – B000026608
    Track: 13

    Author: John Milton
    Extract from Paradise Lost
    Reader: Andrew Scott

    Performer: Fredrik Ullen
    Title: Arc-en-ciel from Etudes
    Composer: Gyorgy Ligeti
    Name of CD: The Complete piano music Volume 1
    CD Code: BIS CD783
    Track on CD: 5

    Author: Eugenio Montale
    Title: Little Testament
    From: Imitations
    Translator : Robert Lowell
    Reader: Claire Skinner

    Title: From Suikinkutsu Water Chime
    Name of CD: Ocean of Sound
    CD Code: AMBT 10
    Track on CD: 17 CD2

    Author: Don Paterson
    Title: Rain
    From Book: Rain
    Reader: Andrew Scott

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