The South Downs - An Inspirational Landscape
The chalk hills of the South Downs and the rolling Sussex landscape are rich in history, culture and a traditional way of life. The valleys, the woods, the hills and the coastline have inspired people, poets, artists and musicians down the centuries. For this week's Open Counry, Helen Mark takes a musical journey across Sussex and the South Downs talking to some of the people who have put their love of this landscape into song and music or simply been inspired creatively by its existence.
Helen is joined by John Copper, his sister Jill and her husband Jon Dudley, of the singing Copper Family. The family, who come from the coastal village of Rottingdean in Sussex, are a living, breathing folk singing tradition. They have lived and worked in this area for over 400 years as farm workers and shepherds and throughout the generations have seen many changes in this landscape. Their songs have been handed down from generation to generation and are still being sung today in the same way that they were sung hundreds of years ago, but at the heart of this music is the countryside around them, the natural beauty of the South Downs and a traditional way of life.
Bulgarian composer, Dobrinka Tabakova, tells Helen how she composed a piece of music to accompany the words of poet Francis William Bourdillon. 'On The South Downs' is a symphonic poem which aims to paint a sonic picture of the beautiful South Downs and captures a day's walking on the Downs. Dobrinka was commissioned by the 'Friends of West Sussex Young Musicians' to write the music which was first performed by cellist Natalie Clein and the Chichester Pro Camerata orchestra in 2009 and Dobrinka tells Helen how, while writing the piece, she experienced a slow falling in love with the landscape around her.
And musician Matt Hopwood describes how after several years he found himself drawn back to a place he would visit as a teenager, Edburton, a small village at the foot of the South Downs. It was here that Matt spent months in the isolated village church and found inspiration from his surroundings to write music for his new album.
Presenter: Helen Mark
Producer: Helen Chetwynd.