Main content
Sorry, this episode is not currently available

British Rivers

Broadcast from the banks of the Thames, a special edition of the programme with poetry, prose and music on British rivers. The readers are Stella Gonet and Robert Glenister.

From the banks of the Thames, a live edition with poetry, prose and music on British rivers. With music by Delius, Sally Beamish and George Butterworth and words by Ted Hughes, Stevie Smith, Gerard Manley Hopkins and Alice Oswald. The readers are Stella Gonet and Robert Glenister.

Producer: Fiona McLean

Radio 3 is broadcasting live from a pop-up studio at London's Southbank Centre all day every day for the last two weeks of March. If you're in the area, visit the Radio 3 studio and performance space in the Royal Festival Hall Riverside Café to listen to Radio 3, ask questions and enjoy the special events.

1 hour, 15 minutes

Last on

Christmas Eve 2014 16:30

Music Played

Timings (where shown) are from the start of the programme in hours and minutes

  • 00:00

    George Frideric Handel

    Water Music Ouverture

    Performer: Academy of St Martin in the Fields.
    • EMI CDC7498102.
    • Tr1.
  • William Wordsworth

    Composed Upon Westminster Bridge read by Robert Glenister

  • Alice Oswald

    Another Westminster Bridge read by Stella Gonet

  • 00:05

    Ray Davies

    Waterloo Sunset

    Performer: The Kinks and the Crouch End Festival Chorus.
    • Decca 2703909.
    • Tr1.
  • John Betjeman

    Youth and Age on the Beaulieu River, Hants read by Robert Glenister

  • 00:10

    Gerald Finzi

    Clear and Gentle Stream

    Performer: Choir of St John’s College, Cambridge.
    • Naxos 8557320.
    • Tr2.
  • 00:14

    Martin Bell

    Life on the River

    Performer: The Albion Band.
    • Road Goes on Forever RGFDCD006.
    • Tr6.
  • Carol Ann Duffy

    River read by Stella Gonet

  • 00:18

    Frederick Delius

    Summer Night on the River

    Performer: BBC Symphony Orchestra conducted by Andrew Davis.
    • Teldec 4509908452.
    • Tr6.
  • Ted Hughes

    The West Dart read by Robert Glenister

  • 00:24

    Sally Beamish

    Cello Concerto ‘River’

    Performer: Swedish Chamber Orchestra, Robert Cohen Cello.
    • Bis CD971.
    • Tr1.
  • Kathleen Jamie

    Springs read by Stella Gonet

  • 00:34

    Stuart Cassells

    The Salmon and the Clyde

    Performer: Stuart Cassells.
    • Footstompin’ CDFSR1733.
    • Tr5.
  • 00:37

    Judith Weir

    Scotch Minstrelsy Bessie Bell and Mary Gray

    Performer: Susan Bickley, Andrew Kennedy, Ailish Tynan and Iain Burnside.
    • Signum SigCD087.
    • Tr7.
  • John Burnside

    Frost Fair read by Stella Gonet

  • 00:42

    George Benjamin

    At First Light

    Performer: London Sinfonietta conducted by George Benjamin.
    • Nimbus NI5643.
    • Tr3.
  • Gerard Manley Hopkins


  • 00:45

    John Ireland

    Amberley Wild Brooks

    Performer: John Lenehan.
    • Naxos 8570461.
    • Tr15.
  • George Eliot

    The Mill on the Floss

  • 00:50

    William Blezard

    The River

    Performer: Royal Ballet Sinfonia conducted by Gavin Sutherland.
    • ASV CDWHL2126.
    • Tr4.
  • Stevie Smith

    The River God

  • 00:55

    Orlando Gibbons

    The Silver Swan

    Performer: The Cambridge Singers conducted by John Rutter.
    • Collegium ColCD105.
    • Tr21.
  • T.S. Eliot

    The Waste Land

  • 01:00

    Sir George Dyson

    Sweet Thames Run Softly

    Performer: Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Royal College of Music Chamber Choir.
    • Somm Recordings SommCD014.
    • Tr2.
  • 01:04

    John Surman

    Road to St Ives - Lostwithiel

    Performer: John Surman.
    • ECM1418.
    • Tr6.
  • Charles Causley

    Eden Rock

  • 01:07

    George Butterworth

    The Banks of Green Willow

    Performer: London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Richard Hickox.
    • Chandos Chan9902.
    • Tr1.

Producer Note

‘The source of a river, a tear duct of the earth’

 This Words and Music was broadcast live from the banks of the River Thames as part of Radio 3’s residency at London’s Southbank Centre in March. The theme was British rivers and the readers in our ‘pop-up’ studio were Stella Gonet and Robert Glenister. The programme begins with the overture from Handel’s ‘Water Music’ followed by Wordworth’s ‘Composed Upon Westminster Bridge, September 1802’ and Alice Oswald’s contemporary ‘Another Westminster Bridge’. Moving along the river come The Kinks and a choral version of ‘Waterloo Sunset’. The programme then moves away from the Thames to Hampshire with John Betjeman’s ‘Youth and Age on the Beaulieu River’ and the River Dart in Ted Hughes’ ‘The West Dart’, heard alongside Sally Beamish’s beautiful Cello Concerto which takes its titles from Ted Hughes’ river poem collection. Stuart Cassell’s bagpipes take us north of the border with ‘The Salmon and the Clyde’ and Judith Weir’s Scotch Minstrelsy with ‘Bessie Bell and Mary Gray’. John Burnside’s ‘Frost Fair’, heard with George Benjamin’s ‘At First Light’ evokes a time when the river froze. After one last visit to London with T.S. Eliot’s ‘The Waste Land’ and George Dyson’s ‘Sweet Thames, Run Softly’ we hear Charles Causley’s moving poem about his late parents beckoning to him from the other side of the river. Crossing, they say, is not as hard as you might think. The programme ends with George Butterworth’s ‘The Banks of Green Willow’, written just three years before his death on the Somme.



The hidden history of plant-based diets

The hidden history of plant-based diets

Forget social media influencers - the meat-free movement started with the Victorians.

Books website

Books website

Get closer to books with in-depth articles, quizzes and our picks from radio & TV.