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30 minutes
First broadcast:
Sunday 07 April 2013

John McCarthy explores the significance of the Pietà in art and life. With Antony Gormley

John McCarthy discusses the significance of the Pietà in art and in life with sculptor Antony Gormley, and the act of carrying others in times of adversity.

Gormley's love of Pietàs begins with Michelangelo's work of the same name which can be seen in St Peter's Basilica in the Vatican City. But his real affection is for Michelangelo's last sculpture: The Rondanini Pieta, where the relationship between the figures of Mary and Christ is much more ambiguous.

Also in the programme, Paul and Ruth describe the way in which they've carried their daughter Maddie for many years due to her multiple disabilities. She's now a teenager and they regard the carrying of her as an on going act of their love for her.

The programme includes music by Vivaldi, Prophets of the Fall, Sarah McLachlan, The Hollies and Morten Lauridsen. And writing by Elizabeth Jennings, Tess Gallagher and Sebastian Faulks.

Produced by Rosie Boulton
Presented by John McCarthy
A Whistledown Production for BBC Radio 4.

Music Played

5 items
  • Image for Antonio Vivaldi

    Antonio Vivaldi Stabat Mater RV 621

    Performer: Andreas Scholl / Ensemble 415/ Chiara Banchini

    Stabat Mater, Harmonia Mundi, HMX2901571, 16

  • Image for Marko Saaresto, Olli Tukiainen

    Marko Saaresto, Olli Tukiainen Cradled in Love

    Performer: Poets of the Fall

    Temple of Thought, Remote, B007FEHA1G, 3

  • Image for Sarah McLachlan

    Sarah McLachlan Angel

    Performer: Sarah McLachlan

    Closer – The Best of Sarah McLachlan, Sony Music CMG, B0038QGUA2, 1

  • Image for Bobby Scott and Bob Russell

    Bobby Scott and Bob Russell He Ain't Heavy, He's my Brother

    Performer: The Hollies

    The Hollies 20 Golden Greats, EMI, B001JL9TIS, 20

  • Image for Morten Lauridsen

    Morten Lauridsen O Magnum Mysterium

    Performer: Polyphony. Britten Sinfonia/ Stephen Layton

    Lux Aeterna, Hyperion, CDA67449, 14

  • Readings

    Title: Michelangelo’s First Pieta
    Author: Elizabeth Jennings
    Publication: Elizabeth Jennings’ Collected Poems Pub 1986.
    Publisher: Carcanet
    ISBN: 0856357219

    Title: The Hug
    Author: Tess Gallagher
    Publisher: Bloodaxe
    ISBN-10: 1852245883
    ISBN-13: 978-1852245887

    Title: The Embrace
    Author: Oktay Rifat translated by Ruth Christie
    Publication: Voices of Memory: Selected poems of Oktay Rifat
    Publisher: Rockingham Press
    ISBN 978-1-873468-19-7

    Title: An extract from “Birdsong”
    Author: Sebastian Faulks
    Publisher: Vintage
    ISBN-10: 0099479222
    ISBN-13: 978-0099479222


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