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Ballad of the Northern Lights

Sunday 3 August 2008 22:30-0:00 (Radio 3)

Douglas Hodge and Stella Gonet read poetry and prose on the theme of the North - from Ted Hughes, Katrina Porteous, Philip Larkin and Kathleen Jamie. Music includes Sibelius' Symphony No 4, Delius' North Country Sketches, Holst's A Moorside Suite and Ewan MacColl's The Shoals of Herring.

Duration:

1 hour 30 minutes

Ballad of the Northern Lights

Stella Gonet (reader)
Douglas Hodge (reader)


Producer's Notes

This week's Words and Music is on the theme of North, or a very particular part of it. The Ballad of the Northern Lights takes a journey around the North of England through the Borders and into Scotland and the Orkneys before reaching a final destination in the dark woods of Sibelius' Finnish woods and mountains and the Arctic Circle. The programme begins in Yorkshire with Ken Smith's poem 'Colden Valley' and Ted Hughes' wintry 'Crow Hill' which you'll hear with Delius' 'Winter Landscape' from his 'North Country Sketches'. These 'North Country Sketches' were composed during the First World War and are the only musical picture of the Yorkshire moors he loved. You'll also hear the work of two men who made Yorkshire their adopted home, Holst's 'A Moorside Suite', the piece which the composer wrote for the National Championship for brass bands in 1928 alongside John Agard's 'Caribbean Eye over Yorkshire'. Then a musical move towards the North East with Kathleen Ferrier singing the beautiful Northumbrian folk song 'Blow the Wind Southerly', Carol Rumen's lament for the shipbuilding industry in 'Jarrow' and onto the Borders with Kathryn Tickell's 'Otterburn'.

The poet Robert Crawford celebrates with affection his 'chip of a nation' in 'Scotland' while James MacMillan's 'Shambards' from his 'Piano Concerto no 2' takes its title from Edwin Muir's uncompromising look at Scottish culture in his poem 'Scotland 1941':

Mean heirlooms of each fainter generation,
mummied housegods in their musty niches,
Burns and Scott, sham bards of a sham nation.'

Up to the Orkneys then with Katrina Porteous' 'Foula, auld Yule', George Mackay Brown's 'Song: Further than Hoy' and Peter Maxwell Davies 'Maxwell's Reel with Northern Lights' written after the composer attended a community event in Hoy and saw the northern lights pulsing in and out of time with the dance music coming from the hall.

The programme ends near the Arctic Circle with a section of Robert Service's poem 'Ballad of the Northern Lights' and the final movement of the Finnish composer Sibelius' 'Concerto for Violin and Orchestra in D Minor', described by one conductor as a 'polonaise for polar bears'.

Fiona McLean (producer)

Details of Readings and Music
Times are from the start of the programme

00:00:00
GUSTAV HOLST
Scherzo from A Moorside Suite
Grimethorpe Colliery RJB Band
Gary Cutt - conductor
CHANDOS CHAN4553

00:00:30
KEN SMITH
Colden Valley
Ian McMillan (reader)

00:01:24
ERNEST TOMLINSON
Hunt the Squirrel
Comedy Overture
Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra
Ernest Tomlinson - conductor
MARCO POLO 8223513

00:04:09
TED HUGHES
Crow Hill
Stella Gonet (reader)

00:04:47
FREDERICK DELIUS
Winter Landscape
North Country Sketches
The Orchestra of the Welsh National Opera
Sir Charles Mackerras
ARGO 4302022

00:09:05
TED HUGHES
Warriors of the North
Douglas Hodge (reader)

00:10:04
SIMON ARMITAGE
On Marsden Moor
Stella Gonet (reader)

00:11:08
JOHN MCCABE
Piano Concerto no 1
John McCabe - piano
BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra
Christopher Austin - conductor
DUTTON LABORATORIES
CDLX7179

00:17:09
CHARLES DICKENS
Hard Times
Douglas Hodge (reader)

00:18:35
GUSTAV HOLST
Nocturne from A Moorside Suite
Grimethorpe Colliery RJB Band
Gary Cutt - conductor
CHANDOS CHAN4553

00:19:16
JOHN AGARD
Caribbean Eye over Yorkshire
Douglas Hodge (reader)

00:26:40
IAN MCMILLAN
Tempest Avenue
Ian McMillan (reader)

00:27:32
NICK DRAKE
Northern Sky
Bryter Layter
ISLAND IMCD71

00:31:16
PHILIP LARKIN
Here
Douglas Hodge (reader)

00:33:36
CAROL RUMENS
Jarrow
Stella Gonet (reader)

00:34:12
ELVIS COSTELLO AND THE ATTRACTIONS
Shipbuilding
Punch the Clock
F-BEAT ZD70026

00:39:02
PHILIP LARKIN
Friday Night in the Royal Station Hotel
Douglas Hodge (reader)

00:40:08
KATHLEEN FERRIER
Blow the Wind Southerly
Blow the Wind Southerly and other British Songs
DECCA 4334752

00:40:32
THE KATHRYN TICKELL BAND
Otterburn
BLACK CROW CROCD227

00:46:12
ROBERT CRAWFORD
Scotland
Stella Gonet (reader)

00:46:38
JAMES MACMILLAN
Shambards
Piano Concerto no 2
Wayne Marshall - piano
BBC Philharmonic
James MacMillan - conductor
CHANDOS CHAN10377

00:54:22
JOHN BURNSIDE
A photograph of Old West Fife
Douglas Hodge (reader)

00:55:22
JUDITH WEIR
Bagpiper's String Trio
Piano Concerto
The Schubert Ensemble
Susan Tomes, William Howard, Petra Casen - piano
NMC NMCD090

00:58:11
KATHLEEN JAMIE
Perfect Day
Stella Gonet (reader)

00:58:45
JEAN REDPATH
Snow Goose
Leaving the Land
GREENTRAX CDTRAX039

01:01:26
GEORGE MACKAY BROWN
Song: Further than Hoy
Douglas Hodge (reader)

01:02:02
PETER MAXWELL DAVIES
Maxwell's Reel, with Northern Lights
Piano Concerto
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies - conductor
COLLINS CLASSICS 15202

01:02:03
KATRINA PORTEOUS
Foula, Auld Yule
Stella Gonet (reader)


01:12:38
MIKE BARLOW
The Sparkle in the Arctic Sky
Stella Gonet (reader)

01:13:13
AULIS SALLINEN
Sunrise Serenade
Finnish Orchestral Favourites
Finnish Chamber Orchestra
Okko Kamu - conductor
NAXOS 8555773

01:19:54
ROBERT SERVICE
from The Ballad of the Northern Lights
Douglas Hodge (reader)

01:21:18
JEAN SIBELIUS
Concerto for Violin and Orchestra in D Minor
Cho-Liang Lin - violin
Philharmonic Orchestra
Esa Pekka Salonen - conductor
SONY CLASSICAL SXK64578




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