Free Thinking: The One and the Many
A special edition of Words and Music, recorded earlier as part of the Free Thinking Festival. Carolyn Pickles and Jonathan Keeble read texts on 'The One and the Many'.
A special edition of Words and Music, recorded earlier today in the Glass Box at Sage Gateshead as part of the Free Thinking Festival. Carolyn Pickles and Jonathan Keeble read poetry and prose on the festival's theme of 'The One and the Many'. The programme will explore literary and real people who have thought or acted differently from the crowd - and the crowd's attitude to them. Including texts by George Orwell, Albert Camus and Elizabeth Jennings, and music by Benjamin Britten, Bohuslav Martinu and Igor Stravinsky.
Producer - Ellie Mant.
Timings (where shown) are from the start of the programme in hours and minutes
Hans Christian Andersen
The Emperors New Clothes, read by Carolyn Pickles
The Diary of Soren Kierkegaard, read by Jonathan Keeble
World I have not Made, read by Carolyn Pickles
Albert Camus, trans Joseph Laredo
The Outsider, read by Jonathan Keeble
Murmuration, read by Carolyn Pickles
Edgar Allan Poe
Alone, read by Jonathan Keeble
Schindlers Ark, read by Carolyn Pickles
The Schoole of Skil, read by Jonathan Keeble
The Parade, read by Carolyn Pickles
1984, read by Jonathan Keeble
A Tale of Two Cities, read by Carolyn Pickles
O Solitude, read by Jonathan Keeble
The Social Contract, read by Carolyn Pickles
Oh Who is that Young Sinner, read by Jonathan Keeble
Jane Eyre, read by Carolyn Pickles
Concert Interpretation, read by Jonathan Keeble
Immigrant, read by Carolyn Pickles
Fever Pitch, read by Jonathan Keeble
Journey, read by Carolyn Pickles
Oh why was I born with a different face?, read by Jonathan Keeble
Words and Music:The One and the Many
The One and the Many – Producer Note
The programme begins with a character who really does stand out from the crowd – Hans Christian Andersen’s Emperor, who proudly parades his non-existent new clothes until a child points out that he’s naked. For me this extract exemplifies the theme of The One and the Many: Someone who thinks or acts differently to the crowd, and the crowd’s attitude towards them. Kierkegaard explores the idea that the truth always rests with the minority, as the majority is formed by people with no opinion of their own, and Elizabeth Jennings describes the feeling of being an outsider in world created by somebody else. Another famous outsider is Camus’ anti-hero Meursault, who refuses to conform to social norms, instead living by his own set of truths. And then to one of the most impressive displays of crowd behaviour – a murmuration, described in a poem by Katharine Towers.
I wanted to include some real-life individuals whose thoughts and deeds went against the prevailing view. Oskar Schindler rescued over a thousand Jews from the clutches of the Nazis by employing them in his factories during the 2nd World War. Centuries earlier, Copernicus’ theory on the movement of planets around the sun was perplexing to many, including 16th Century astronomer Thomas Hill who couldn’t understand how the earth could turn quickly without everything falling off it.
Billy Collins’ The Parade describes the exhilaration of marching with a crowd, while also lost in a private dream. And private thoughts are crucial to Winston Smith who is trying to hold out against the tyranny of the Thought Police in Orwell’s 1984. Mob rule comes to the fore in Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities, which describes the lynching of a prisoner during the French Revolution. I’ve paired this musically with The Borough rising up against outsider Peter Grimes in Britten’s opera. Robert Ardrey explains how far from being chaotic, a mob is actually a very orderly phenomenon; the music I’ve chosen for that is an extract from Busoni’s eccentric piano concerto, where the soloist really has to fight to be heard above the massed orchestra. Then two more characters who are persecuted for being different: Houseman’s Young Sinner and Brontë’s Jane Eyre.
Siegfried Sassoon’s poem Concert Interpretation interested me because it shows how a group mentality can change over time - Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring which caused a riot at its premiere is met with genteel applause just a few years later. Nick Hornby describes the anger and disappointment of a football crowd (followed by the only piece of classical music I know that’s about football!), and then a poem about another accidental group of people, this time rail commuters.
Fleur Adcock describes the lonely experience of being an immigrant in a new country, followed by a poem by William Blake; something of an outsider himself - Oh why was I born with a different face? The programme ends with a solitary solo violin.
Ellie Mant - Producer
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