BBC Radio 3 in partnership with Wellcome Collection this autumn - Why Music?

Music has the ability to physically affect us in hard-to-define and mysterious ways. I’m delighted BBC Radio 3 will be working with Wellcome Collection to delve into why music has such an impact on humans.Alan Davey, Controller, BBC Radio 3
Date: 09.07.2015     Last updated: 04.09.2015 at 17.55
From brain scans to world classical music premieres, BBC Radio 3 will broadcast live from Wellcome Collection for the first time this September, exploring the power of music with three days of live music, discussion and one-off programmes.

Throughout the weekend, audiences and visitors to Wellcome Collection will be able to discover how music can manipulate our behaviour and even shape the human brain, affecting our physical and mental wellbeing, our language, literature and memory. Why Music? will be broadcast from Friday 25 September to Sunday 27 September on Radio 3 and available on catch-up for 30 days.

  • First public recital-lecture in the UK by psychiatrist and concert pianist Dr Richard Kogan
  • Studying his own brain scan, presenter Andrew McGregor will find out how and why the brain responds to different sorts of music
  • Griff Rhys Jones, comedian, actor, presenter and author, will explore objects from Wellcome Collection in an exclusive series for Why Music?
  • Pianist James Rhodes to discuss music and mental illness in a special edition of In Tune
  • World premieres from three BBC Proms Inspire composers, Antonia Barnett-McIntosh, and Christopher Fox live at Wellcome Collection, broadcast on BBC Radio 3
  • Nobel Prize-winner Frank Wilczek to reveal his Private Passions for the first time
  • Celebrated wildlife sound recordist Chris Watson to explore the links between music and the sounds of nature
  • BBC Radio 3 will broadcast from Wellcome Collection from 25 to 27 September for first time

Asking the question Why Music? leading musicians will be joined by authorities in the fields of neuroscience, music therapy and music psychology for the three-day programme of live and recorded broadcasts, exploring what makes music a vital part of being human. Radio 3’s pop-up studio will appear in Wellcome Café on the ground floor of Wellcome Collection, providing a hub for live broadcasts from the venue and allowing visitors to see and share in the weekend’s programming. Broadcasts will also take place in the newly re-furbished Reading Room and the Henry Wellcome Auditorium.

Among the highlights, BBC Radio 3 Presenter Andrew McGregor will find out how and why the brain responds to different sorts of music by studying his own brain scan, and Tom Service will examine how music has influenced our evolutionary development; is music just 'auditory cheesecake'? Concert pianist and psychiatrist Dr Richard Kogan will put composers on to the couch as he examines the influence their mental state has had on their work, and psychologist Lauren Stewart and composer and pianist Neil Brand will explore 'The Tingle Factor': what is it about music that sends a shiver down our spines?

Following their performance at the 2015 BBC Proms of Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony and the world premiere of Anna Meredith’s Smatter Hauler, also performed from memory, members of the Aurora Orchestra will perform world premieres from three winners of the 2015 BBC Proms Inspire Young Composers’ Competition scheme, and a work written specially for Why Music? by New Zealander Antonia Barnett-McIntosh, resident composer with the Hubbub interdisciplinary research group at Wellcome Collection. They will also perform composer Anna Meredith’s ‘Chorale’ for MRI scanner and string quartet.

Two leading authorities will be on hand throughout the weekend to act as ‘trusted guides’ and to answer questions from listeners and audiences: Victoria Williamson, Vice Chancellor’s Fellow for Music at the University of Sheffield and author of You Are The Music; and popular science writer Philip Ball, author of The Music Instinct.

Leading minds from the fields of neuroscience, music therapy and music psychology, including Dr Richard Kogan, Professor Marcus du Sautoy, Professor Richard Hargreaves, Mary King, Lauren Stewart and Steven Mithen, will contribute to programmes and discussion exploring music’s relationship with nature, memory, mental illness and mathematics.

Throughout the weekend, comedian, actor, presenter and author Griff Rhys Jones, in conversation with Simon Chaplin (Director of Culture and Society at the Wellcome Trust), presents his choice of five extraordinary objects from Wellcome Collection in five programmes recorded specially for Why Music?. Radio 3 listeners will also have the chance to hear some of the music and sounds from the Golden Record, the disc placed on board the two Voyager spacecraft on their 1977 launch to help aliens understand human beings. Visitors to Wellcome Collection over the weekend will have the opportunity to record their own accounts of significant musical moments in their lives in Radio 3’s pop-up studio, with a chance to hear some played on air.

Alan Davey, Controller, BBC Radio 3 says: “Music has inspired me my entire life; it has the ability to physically affect us in hard to define and mysterious ways. I’m delighted BBC Radio 3 will be working with Wellcome Collection for the first time to delve into why music has such an impact on humans. As a cultural institution BBC Radio 3 aims to bring classical music and culture to as many people as possible in an expert and engaging way. By working together in partnership with organisations like Wellcome Collection, we hope to bring this fusion of science and classical music to inquiring minds everywhere this September.”

Rosie Stanbury, Events Manager at Wellcome Collection says: Why Music? is our first live radio broadcast residency and we’re thrilled to be working with BBC Radio 3 to fill our newly transformed galleries and spaces with sound, music and debate. Wellcome Collection’s events offer rich opportunities to indulge your curiosity and explore what it means to be human and this long weekend of extraordinary performances, new commissions and live broadcasts - from Radio’s 3’s pop up studio in our café and around our building - will give visitors and listeners alike a unique experience of the complex relationship between music and the human condition.”

Following their performance at the 2015 BBC Proms of Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony and the world premiere of Anna Meredith’s Smatter Hauler, also performed from memory, members of the Aurora Orchestra will perform three world premieres from three young composers on the BBC Proms Inspire scheme, and a work written specially for Why Music? by New Zealander Antonia Barnett-McIntosh, resident composer with the Hubbub interdisciplinary research group at Wellcome Collection. They will also perform composer Anna Meredith’s Chorale for MRI scanner and string quartet.

All tickets are free and will be available from Friday 28 August. They can be booked via Wellcome Collection’s website, apart from tickets for the BBC Concert Orchestra’s Maida Vale performance which will be available from bbc.co.uk/tickets.

For further information check bbc.co.uk/radio3 and wellcomecollection.org for updates.

Why Music?follows a focus on music and memory as part of the 2015 BBC Proms, which starts on Friday 17 July. The focus begins with a Proms Lecture presented by Daniel Levitin entitled ‘Unlocking the Mysteries of Music in Your Brain’ on Saturday 18 July, 2:30pm at the Royal College of Music.

FULL PROGRAMME INFORMATION

Friday 25 September (broadcasts 16.30 – 01.00)

Why Music? kicks off with Radio 3’s afternoon programme In Tune broadcasting live from the Henry Wellcome Auditorium at Wellcome Collection. Through performance and discussion, presenter Sean Rafferty asks Why Music? with a special line-up of guests including pianists James Rhodes and Derek Paravicini, conductor and co-founder of Music for Autism, John Lubbock, Professor of Music at the University of Roehampton Adam Ockelford, music psychologist Victoria Williams and writer and author Philip Ball.

A special documentary Why Music? presented by writer and author Philip Ball asks why music is such a universal human trait. How do we define music, where does it come from, and how does it affect us so deeply? Philip Ball speaks to scientists and musicians around the world, including Robert Zatorre, Laurel Trainor, Daniel Levitin, and Stefan Koelsch to explore these questions and some of the insights from neuroscience and evolutionary theory.

Live in Concert: Human Story will be broadcast live from BBC’s Maida Vale Studios with a wide-ranging concert of 20th and 21st century repertoire, including works by Edward Elgar, Frank Bridge, Samuel Barber, Richard Rodgers, Bernard Herrmann, Peter Maxwell Davies, Judith Weir and Jonathan Dove. With the help of the BBC Concert Orchestra and conductor Michael Seal, BBC Radio 3 presenter Sarah Walker and philosopher and Professor of the Public Understanding of Philosophy at the University of Sheffield Angie Hobbs will seek, through music, to express what makes us human.

Song, common to every society on the planet, has been heard at home and at work from humankind’s earliest days. In World on 3: Singing Planet, Radio 3 presenter Mary Ann Kennedy is joined by Mercury-nominated singer and song collector Sam Lee, and Lucy Duran from London University’s School of Oriental and African Studies to discover the links between work and domestic songs from around the world, discovering the common threads that bind this fundamental human activity.

Max Reinhardt presents a live edition of Late Junction from Wellcome Trust’s Gibbs Building (next door to Wellcome Collection on Euston Road) with live music from BBC Radio 1 DJ Gemma Cairney’s Body of Songs project, supported by Wellcome Trust. Alternative singer-songwriters including Mara Carlyle, Afrikan Boy, Ghostpoet and Dave Okumu join Cairney to perform original compositions from the project, inspired by the organs of the human body.

To end Radio 3’s first day at Wellcome Collection, the station broadcasts a sequence To the Makers of Music – All Worlds, All Times featuring some of the music and sounds on the Golden Record, a disc placed on board the two Voyager spacecraft on their 1977 launch, optimistically intended to help aliens understand human beings and their world.

Saturday 26 September (broadcasts 07.00-01.00)

AM
Martin Handley presents Radio 3's Breakfast live from Wellcome Café featuring listener requests and exploring the topic of musical synaesthesia, a condition where a sense of colour is generated by music. Many musicians, from the twelfth-century Hildegard of Bingen to Olivier Messiaen in the twentieth, have experienced this condition where particular pitches, chords, or keys are associated with different colours.

Live from Wellcome Café, Andrew McGregor is joined by musicians and experts including Lawrence Parsons, Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Sheffield and one of the world’s leading experts on how musical skills are linked to and enhance other brain functions, to discuss The Listening Brain. Exploring the benefits of listening to and performing music and, looking at the results of his own brain scan, Andrew learns how and why the brain responds to different sorts of music.

In Shaping the Brain live from the Henry Wellcome Auditorium, Radio 4’s Claudia Hammond talks to David Hargreaves, Professor of Education at the University of Roehampton about the ways in which music can influence the brain from a neurological perspective: our musical tastes, education and preferences shape more than just our social lives.

How and why have composers down the centuries striven to imbue their music with the patterns and mathematics of the natural world? With soloists from the Aurora Orchestra, in Playing with Patterns live from the Reading Room at Wellcome Collection, Professor Marcus du Sautoy explores the way composers have worked patterns and mathematics from nature into their music from Bach and Mozart to Messiaen and Berg.

PM
In a special edition of Music Matters, Tom Service is joined by guests in Radio 3’s pop-up studio at Wellcome Café to explore how music can be used to manipulate or control patterns of behaviour. From the choice of music as a tool to subdue or intimidate, or its use in public places to tackle anti-social behaviour or influence consumer activity, to the subconscious role music plays in our daily lives. Music Matters: Manipulating The Mind will look at historical and present-day examples, and delve into the science behind music’s manipulative effect on the brain.

Psychiatrist and concert pianist Dr Richard Kogan, renowned for his recital-lectures showing how some composers’ mental illness influenced and shaped their music, makes his first public appearance in the UK in a live broadcast from the Henry Wellcome Auditorium. In The Psychiatrist at the Keyboard, Kogan explores the life, work and mental health of great composers from Beethoven to Gershwin - and perhaps the most troubled of all, Robert Schumann.

Words and Music presents a selection of music, poetry and prose on the power of music as part of the Why Music? weekend. From the ancient world to the present day, the mysterious power of music on all stages of human life has been celebrated, portrayed and pondered in literature. Including texts from the Bible and Shakespeare to PG Wodehouse and Ted Hughes, and music spanning the centuries.

In a special Music Question Time, Tom Service and Why Music? resident experts Victoria Williamson and Philip Ball take stock and draw together some of the big themes of the weekend so far, answering audience and listeners’ questions live from the Henry Wellcome Auditorium.

Radio 3 presenter Julian Joseph hosts a special human vs machine edition of Jazz Line-Up live from Wellcome Trust’s Gibbs Building (next door to Wellcome Collection), demonstrating interactions between musicians and technology to explore how synthetically produced music and improvisation melds and interacts with human music making. With live performance from one of the UK’s leading flute and sax players Finn Peters, pioneering player of acoustic and electric tuba Oren Marshall and electronics programmer and Research Fellow at the Department of Computing and Goldsmiths University Matthew Yee-King plus a solo set from pianist Neil Cowley.

Claudia Hammond and guests discuss music and health in Music as Medicine live from Wellcome Cafe, including contributions from music psychologist Adam Ockelford and vocal coach, performer and educator Mary King. Discussing music’s effect on mental and physical health they will be explore how music can help both physical and mental wellbeing, and look at health problems encountered by musicians.

Radio 3 presenter Tom Service presents Hear And Now live from Wellcome Trust’s Gibbs Building (next door to Wellcome Collection) with soloists of the Aurora Orchestra. They will perform world premieres from three winners of the 2015 BBC Proms Inspire Young Composers’ Competition scheme, specially commissioned by BBC Radio 3 for the season, alongside a work written specially for Why Music? by New Zealander Antonia Barnett-McIntosh, resident composer with the Hubbub interdisciplinary research group at Wellcome Collection, inspired by the theme of rest and busy-ness. The programme also includes Anna Meredith’s Chorale for MRI scanner and string quartet, plus live performance from experimental pianist Sarah Nicolls who, as well as performing a mix of Crumb, Cowell and her own music, will also be duetting with Atau Tanaka and his bio sensor system.

The day ends with the world premiere live broadcast of Max Richter’s ground-breaking and experimental new composition SLEEP, to be performed live from the Reading Room from midnight until 8am on Sunday morning. Composed in consultation with renowned American neuroscientist David Eagleman, the “lullaby for a frenetic world” is meant to be heard whilst sleeping. Audiences across the UK are invited to hear the broadcast as they sleep whilst the composer experiments to find out what effect hearing music has on our subconscious mind.

Sunday 27 September (broadcasts 07.00-19.30)

AM
Martin Handley explores musical memory through earworms - those tunes you can’t get out of your head - in the second live broadcast of Radio 3’s Breakfast from Wellcome Collection.

‘What passion cannot Music raise and quell?’ asked the 17th century poet John Dryden in his Ode to Saint Cecilia. Down the ages, music’s unique ability stir our emotions has frequently been acknowledged. In Feeling Music, Radio 3 presenter Sarah Walker finds out how and why it moves us with the help of two internationally known authorities on the psychology of music: John Sloboda, FBA, Research Professor at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama; and Aaron Williamon, Professor of Performance Science at Royal College of Music. 

Live from the Henry Wellcome Auditorium, Andrew McGregor is joined by psychologist Lauren Stewart and composer and pianist Neil Brand to discuss The Tingle Factor and explore further the neurological basis of emotion in music.

Music psychologist Victoria Williamson is joined by soloists of the Aurora Orchestra for Music and Memory, a concert and talk showing how music and memory are linked in extraordinary ways, from before birth to old age. Live from the Reading Room at Wellcome Collection, melody, emotion, expectation and meaning are explored through the chamber music of Beethoven, Franck, Stravinsky and Brahms.

PM
Nobel Prize winner Frank Wilczek, Professor of Physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2004, reveals his Private Passions. An enthusiastic amateur musician, he talks to Radio 3’s Michael Berkeley about art and music and ponders why we are so drawn to harmony, and how what he calls the ‘deep geometry’ of the world is mirrored in music. Is there, he asks, a ‘music of the spheres’ all around us, which we’re not able to hear but which particle physics can detect? His music choices include Bach, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Mozart, Queen, and Gilbert and Sullivan.

Music and human evolution is the topic of debate in The Singing Ape as Radio 3’s Tom Service probes the latest theories about the origins of music making and how it might have affected human evolutionary development. Was there music before language? Has music helped shape the human brain? Is music any more than just 'auditory cheese cake'? To help answer these and many other questions, Tom is joined by Philip Ball, author of The Music Instinct, and one of the pioneers of cognitive archaeology, Steven Mithen live from Wellcome Café.

In Sounds Of Nature live from the Henry Wellcome Auditorium, Andrew McGregor discusses the music of the natural world with Chris Watson, one of the world’s most celebrated wildlife sound recordists, who uses both his own surround sound field recordings and commercially recorded music to demonstrate connections between the sounds of the natural word and human music making.

According to Darwin, the origins of verbal communication lie in a musical 'protolanguage', in which speech and song were one. Presented by Sarah Walker with contributions from Professor of Music & Science at Cambridge University Ian Cross, The Descent of Language broadcast live from the Reading Room at Wellcome Collection is a playful exploration of this ancestry, and the unexpected ways it is revealed in everyday experience. Performed by vocal ensemble The Clerks, and including audience participation, the programme features new works by Christopher Fox and Edward Wickham alongside music and sounds both exotic and commonplace; a sequence embracing madrigals and ‘motherese’, football chants and fa-la-las, in a unique celebration of that intrinsically human instinct - to sing.

Why Music? ends with a Round-Up of the weekend. With the help of listeners and an audience at Wellcome Collection, presenters Tom Service and Sarah Walker and Why Music? resident experts Victoria Williamson and Philip Ball, look back over the weekend and discuss its highlights and discoveries live from the Henry Wellcome Auditorium.

Notes to Editors

Why Music? is a partnership between BBC Radio 3 and Wellcome Collection. Full listings of the weekend’s events and performances will be available soon on Wellcome Collection’s website. Tickets to all the performances are free and will be available from Friday 28 August via Wellcome Collection’s website.

Free tickets for the BBC Concert Orchestra’s Maida Vale performance will also be available from bbc.co.uk/tickets from 28 August.

Holly Story, Assistant Media Officer, Wellcome Collection, H.Story@wellcome.ac.uk

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