Texts and music evoking the undersea world, with readings by Emily Taaffe and Nicholas Farrell. With Rita Dove, Shakespeare and Charles Kingsley, plus Britten, Hovhaness and Holst.
The undersea world is evoked in a sequence of words and music. Emily Taaffe and Nicholas Farrell read poetry and prose by Rita Dove, William Shakespeare and Charles Kingsley and the submarine music is provided by Britten, Hovhaness and Holst.
Songs of mackerel shoals and whale tales swell the ocean and the seas pick clean the bones of the drowned. There's beauty, death and the sea-change of new life here in the deep.
Timings (where shown) are from the start of the programme in hours and minutes
Fanfare from the South China Sea
A Hymn in Praise of Neptune, reader Nicholas Farrell
The Shell, reader, Emily Taaffe
Diving Into the Wreck, reader Emily Taaffe
The World Beneath the Brine, reader Nicholas Farrell
John Gardiner Calkins Brainard
The Deep, reader Emily Taaffe
from Moby Dick, A Tail, reader Nicholas Farrell
from The Water Babies, The Whale Pool, reader Emily Taaffe
Scented Leaves from a Chinese Jar, reader, Nicholas Farrell
I Wonder What It Feels Like to be Drowned,
Ariel Song from The Tempest, reader Emily Taaffe
T S Eliot
Death by Water, reader Nicholas Farrell
The Fish in the Stone, reader, Emily Taaffe
Amphibology, reader Nicholas Farrell
The programme begins with György Ligeti’s Fanfare from the South China Sea and a pair of sea-shells on the shore: a conch to the lips in Stuart Dempster’s extraordinary Conch Calling and a shell to the ear which summons an unsettling other world in James Stephen’s The Shell.
We set out across the sea with one of Benjamin Britten’s Sea Interludes from Peter Grimes, following the shoals of herring with Ewan MacColl and sing the praises of the mackerel with Ted Hughes.
Adrienne Rich takes us deep down below the surface to explore a wreck. Amongst the lost treasures and the drowned of the past she faces an emotional reckoning. Walt Whitman guides us through the corals and the weeds and the creatures in the submarine world and imagines a movement from the bottom of the sea through our world and beyond to other spheres. Holst’s Neptune, from his Planets Suite, evokes a dreamy undersea world in its sound but also hints, like Whitman, at something beyond the earth.
Next, we encounter the great beasts of the ocean with an extract from Melville’s Moby Dick and Hovhaness’ hymn to whales which makes use of recordings of their song. Tom, the chimney sweep in Charles Kingsley’s The Water Babies rises up from the bottom of the sea, through clouds of sea moths to visit the great Peace Pool, surrounded by ice-cliffs, where the good whales wait for Mother Carey to transform them into something new.
This transformative power of the sea is acknowledged in Ariel’s song from the Tempest: Full fathom five they father lies; those are pearls that were his eyes. The dead and the drowned fold back into the sea like Rita Dove’s fish in the stone who, suspended in time and out of its element, is weary of the bright light of analysis.
Producer: Natalie Steed
Emily TaaffeEmily Taaffe
Nicholas FarrellNicholas Farrell""Added, go to My Music