Below the Surface
Texts and music exploring what lies below the surface, with readings by Juliet Stevenson and Alex Jennings. With Shakespeare and Heaney, plus Purcell, Gluck, Reich and Takemitsu.
Poems, prose and music exploring what lies below the surface - from the Underworld to the world of the coal miner and the depths of the sea. With poetry and prose by Shakespeare, Seamus Heaney, Ted Hughes, Mimi Khalvati and Louise Glück and music by Purcell, Gluck, Steve Reich and Takemitsu and Amy X. Neuburg. Readings by Juliet Stevenson and Alex Jennings.
First broadcast in March 2014.
Timings (where shown) are from the start of the programme in hours and minutes
Photos of a Salt Mine read by Juliet Stevenson
Personal Helicon read by Alex Jennings
I know where wells grow read by Juliet Stevenson
Orpheus from Selected Translations read by Alex Jennings
The Underground read by Alex Jennings
Myth of Devotion read by Juliet Stevenson
Leave me a Place Underground read by Alex Jennings
Paradise Lost read by Alex Jennings
Subway Rush Hour read by Juliet Stevenson
The Man of Property read by Alex Jennings
from The Adventures of Tom Sawyer read by Juliet Stevenson
from The Tempest read by Alex Jennings and Juliet Stevenson
from Entries of Light read by Juliet Stevenson
The Kraken read by Alex Jennings
This week's programme explores the world below the surface, underground and in the depths of the sea. The starting point came when I was reading Seamus Heaney's poems inspired by the underground, in his volume 'District and Circle', in 'Ugolino' and in the poem you'll hear here, 'The Underground', Heaney's beautiful take on the Orpheus and Eurydice story updated to tell the story of Heaney and his bride Marie on their honeymoon in London rushing late to a Proms concert. Composers too have been inspired by the Orpheus story of the musician whose wife Eurydice dies after being bitten by a snake. Orpheus travels to the underworld to find her. He is allowed to bring her back on one condition, that Eurydice walks behind him and that he doesn't look back. Just as they reach the surface Orpheus is overcome with longing, looks back and loses Eurydice forever. Here Gluck's 'Dance of the Blessed Spirits' and Monteverdi's 'Orfeo' are heard alongside Ted Hughes' interpretation of the Orpheus story and Louise Gluck's 'Myth of Devotion', her telling of another classical story, that of Hades building a duplicate of earth in the underworld for Persephone.
The programme begins with one of the songs from Ewan MacColl's 1961 radio ballad, 'The Big Hewer' and the poetic voices of the miners talking about their relationship with the world below the surface. Alongside this Juliet Stevenson reads 'Photos of a Salt Mine' by the Canadian poet P.K. Page.
Langston Hughes' 1920s poem 'Subway Rush Hour' dreams of a society where all races can live together and in 1922 Galsworthy's Soames travels from Sloane Square tube station in the first class compartment on a foggy day in London when passengers 'afraid of carriages on foggy days, are driven underground'. The composer Amy X. Neuburg's 'The Secret Language of Subways', her 2003 song cycle for voice and cello trio was conceived while sitting on the subway in New York and Oakland, 'inspired by the rhythmic lull of the train, the fragmented meanderings of my thoughts, the dramas of recent world and personal events, and the deluge of sensory input that is New York itself.' Here you'll hear 'Someone Else's Sleep'.
After an adventure in the cave with Becky and Tom Sawyer the programme ends below sea level with Shakespeare's 'The Tempest' heard with Sibelius's musical interpretation and at the bottom of the ocean with Tennyson's 'The Kraken' and the film composer Alan Silvestri's theme to the James Cameron film 'The Abyss'.
Fiona McLean""Added, go to My Music