Main content

Beats behind bars

Mark-Anthony Turnage on prison music, plus Joseph Calleja, Ingo Metzmacher, and birdsong. With Tom Service.

Available now

45 minutes

Last on

Mon 28 Nov 2016 22:00


  • Music in Prisons

    Duration: 11:25

  • Joseph Calleja

    Duration: 11:07

  • The Wellcome Collection

    Duration: 09:25

  • Ingo Metzmacher

    Duration: 10:14

Music in prisons

Music in prisons

What difference can the arts make in prisons? And what can a composer learn from convicts? 

Mark-Anthony Turnage made headlines in 2012 when he premiered a piece composed in collaboration with the inmates of a Nottinghamshire prison.

As the Irene Trust’s Music in Prisons project, which commissioned the work, celebrates 21 years of making music with prisoners, Turnage recalls the fear he felt the first time he went into a prison.

One of the inmates he worked with, Gary, describes how music projects have helped build his confidence, and the Irene Trust’s founder, Sara Lee, reveals her dream of building an arts prison.

More information:

Music in Prisons

Mark-Anthony Turnage

Prison premiere for Olympics music

Reluctant tenor?

Reluctant tenor?

Maltese tenor Joseph Calleja enjoys a stellar career as a soloist at the world’s top opera houses, from Covent Garden, where he recently appeared in Norma, to the US, Europe and the Far East. But to keep his voice in shape, whisky and cigars are among the indulgences he has to sacrifice to his art.

Calleja outlines how he persuaded the Maltese Prime Minister to provide access to online music education tools for the entire population of his home country. 

He laments what he describes as the dumbing down of culture and arts across the world, and makes the case for directing greater financial resources to music and the arts.

More information:


Norma on Opera on 3

Joseph Calleja

Bird Calls

Bird Calls

From the earliest cave paintings art has imitated nature, and music is no exception. But nature also imitates art ,and with human intervention, can even be made to mimic itself.

At an exhibition charting the changing relationship between humans and the animal kingdom, Wellcome Collection curator Honor Beddard reveals how humans have tried to imitate birdsong and train birds to sing human melodies – or even coach one bird species to sing the songs of another.
She also explains how the sale of a popular elephant, Jumbo, to an American buyer prompted Victorian songwriters in England to immortalise the animal. 

More information:

Making Nature: how we see animals

Radical conductor

Radical conductor

The German conductor Ingo Metzmacher reveals how he believes the classical music industry has lost its radical sting – and how he fears becoming too established.

“There’s this huge danger you just do your job and do what people expect you to do”, says Metzmacher, as he expresses his admiration for composers, such as Beethoven and Luigi Nono, who late in life risked all they had achieved to make a new start.
“The biggest danger is that you are afraid to lose your reputation – that’s no fun, I think.”

More information:

Ingo Meztmacher

Ensemble Modern

KunstFestSpiele Hannover


Role Contributor
Presenter Tom Service
Interviewed Guest Ingo Metzmacher
Interviewed Guest Joseph Calleja


  • Sat 26 Nov 2016 12:15
  • Mon 28 Nov 2016 22:00

Knock on wood – six stunning wooden concert halls around the world

Knock on wood – six stunning wooden concert halls around the world

Steel and concrete can't beat good old wood to produce the best sounds for music.

The evolution of video game music

The evolution of video game music

Tom Service traces the rise of an exciting new genre, from bleeps to responsive scores.

Why music can literally make us lose track of time

Why music can literally make us lose track of time

Try our psychoacoustic experiment to see how tempo can affect your timekeeping abilities.