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Night Owls

Carolyn Pickles and Sam Dale read poetry and prose accompanied by Ma Rainey, William Sharp, Dolores Keane and John Lee Hooker, plus Chopin, Debussy, Elgar, Vivaldi and Wagner

The night time is the right time’, as John Lee Hooker sings…. Words and Music joins birds and humans hunting, playing, and hounding each others’ souls between dusk and dawn. We find owls and nightingales fighting each other while just outside the wood the army of Shakespeare’s Henry the Fifth prepares itself for battle. In Italy, an exiled Shelley sighs his sorrows to the chant of the little owl, his wife is inside facing the night time terror of Frankenstein. Poets Helen Dunmore and John Burnside write of all those on the night shift and others who cannot sleep….to an accompaniment of the hoots, screeches and soulful squeaks of tawny, little, long-eared and barn owls. With the sounds of John Lee Hooker, William Sharpe, Ma Rainey and Dolores Keane plus Chopin, Wagner and Debussy, Elgar, Sonny Rollins, Public Service Broadcasting and John Tavener. Readings from naturalists like Neltje Blanchan, Leigh Calvez and Gilbert White. The poetry of John Burnside, George MacBeth, Caroline Carver, Fiona Wilson, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Douglas Stewart, Tennyson and Walter Scott. The readers are Sam Dale and Carolyn Pickles
Producer: Jacqueline Smith.

1 hour, 14 minutes

Last on

Sun 27 Jan 2019 17:30

Music Played

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

  • Leigh Calvez

    Owling, read by Carolyn Pickles

  • 00:01

    John Tavener

    The Protecting Veil

    Performer: YoYo Ma (cello), Members of Cello Section of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, David Zinman (music director).
    • Tr1.
  • George MacBeth

    Owl, read by Sam Dale

  • 00:08

    R Herman

    Night Time is the Right Time

    Performer: John Lee Hooker.
    • ACE CDCHD938.
    • Tr 15.
  • 00:11

    ANON VERSE, 1619

    Sweet Suffolk Owl

    Performer: William Sharp.
    • NEW WORLD NW3692.
    • Tr7.
  • William Wordsworth

    There Was a Boy, read by Carolyn Pickles

  • 00:13

    Sonny Rollins

    East Broadway Run Down

    Performer: Sonny Rollins (tenor sax), Elvin Jones (drums), Jimmy Garrison (Bass), Freddie Hubbard (trumpet).
    • MCA MCAD33120.
    • Tr1.
  • Gilbert White

    Owls sing in B Flat, read by Carolyn Pickles

  • 00:16

    John Field

    Nocturne No5 in B Flat

    Performer: James Galway (flute).
    • RCA RCD 14810.
    • Tr10.
  • Douglas Stewart

    B Flat, read by Sam Dale

  • 00:19

    Frédéric Chopin

    Prelude No 18 in B Flat Minor

    Performer: Nikolai Lugansky.
    • Erato 0927 42836 2.
    • Tr16.
  • Neltje Blanchan

    Barn Owl Diets, read by Carolyn Pickles

  • Otto Herman, J A Owen

    Contents of Owl Pellets, read by Sam Dale

  • Gilbert White

    Owl Found Art, read by Carolyn Pickles

  • 00:22

    Edward Elgar

    Owls (An Epitaph)

    Performer: London Symphony Chorus, Stephen Westrop (Chorus Master), Vernon Handley (Conductor).
    • HYPERION CDA67019.
    • Tr18.
  • Edward Thomas

    The Owl, read by Sam Dale

  • 00:26


    Allegro: Concerto in B Flat for 2 Trumpets

    Performer: Richard Edlinger (trumpet), Capello Istrapolitana.
    • Naxos 1989 Naxos.
    • Tr11.
  • BBC Archive - Nightingale and Bombers recorded in a Surrey Wood 1942

    A Nightingale sings as Lancaster Bombers pass overhead

  • Annon

    The Owl and the Nightingale, read by Sam Dale

  • 00:34

    Richard Wagner

    Fanget an! So rief der lenz in den Wald

    Performer: Walter von Stolzing, Bernd Weikl, Vienna Philharmonic, Sir Georg Solti (Conductor).
    • DECCA 417 497-2.
    • CD2 Tr1.
  • Sir Walter Scott

    The Bonny Bonny Owl, read by Sam Dale

  • 00:40


    Owl in the Tree

    Performer: Trout.
    • Tr11.
  • Sylvia Plath

    Breathe Owl Breathe, read by Carolyn Pickles

  • 00:42

    Claude Debussy

    The Snow is Dancing

    Performer: Yoshiko Okada.
    • ONGAKU 024106.
    • Tr7.
  • John Burnside

    Nightshift at the Plug Mill, read by Sam Dale

  • Walt Whitman

    Crossing America in a sleeper, read by Carolyn Pickles

  • 00:46

    Public Service Broadcasting

    Night Mail

    Performer: Wrigglesworth (drums), J Willgoose (Percussion, Electronic Instruments and arranger), Samplings The 1936 documentary Night Mail.
    • Test Card Recordings TCRCDA01.
    • Tr5.
  • 00:50

    Leos Janacek & Philip Kaufman

    The barn owl has not flown away: The Unbearable Lightness of Being

    Performer: Roland Pontinen (piano).
    • BIS CD1326.
    • Tr4.
  • Fiona Wilson

    Owl, read by Carolyn Pickles

  • Alfred Noyes

    The Highway Man, read by Sam Dale

  • 00:57

    Robbie Basho

    Death Song

    Performer: Robbie Basho.
    • Holographic Ontological Networks ?– HON 40.
    • Tr3.
  • Caroline Carver

    Secrets:Long-eared Owls roost secretively in willow thickets RSPB Diary, read by Carolyn Pickles

  • 01:01

    Henryk Mikolaj Górecki


    Performer: Kronos Quartet.
    • NONESUCH 7559793942.
    • CD1 Tr5.
  • Percy Bysshe Shelley

    The Aziola, read by Sam Dale

  • Mary Shelley

    Frankenstein: An Introduction, read by Carolyn Pickles

  • 01:08

    Ma Rainey

    Black Cat, Hoot Owl Blues

    Performer: Ma Rainey and Her Tub Jug Washboard Band.
    • NIMBUS NI2008.
    • Tr 10.
  • Alfred Lord Tennyson

    The Owl, read by Sam Dale

  • Helen Dunmore (from Counting Backwards: Poems 1975-2017 © Bloodaxe Books, 2019)

    NIghtworkers, read by Carolyn Pickles

  • 01:11

    Steve Tilston

    The Night Owl Homewards Turns

    Performer: Dolores Keane.
    • Tr12.


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