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Mother Country

In the final part of the series, Eleanor Alberga touches on the impact of colonialism and immigration on classical music and considers the history of black composers in the UK.

In the final part of this series Eleanor Alberga touches on the impact of colonialism and immigration on classical music and considers the history of black composers in the UK.

European imperialism afforded huge cultural influences on great swathes of the world, and as a result, western classical music was often enthusiastically adopted by different peoples as a means of expression to make their own. Black composers emerged from colonies in Africa, the Caribbean and beyond. As Eleanor says, “certainly, in the West Indies, I grew up with England being known affectionately as ‘the Mother Country’.”

This programme begins with music by Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, who was born in London, but whose father was from Sierra Leone. It foregrounds the music of composers such as Fela Sowande from Nigeria and Abu Bakr Khairat from Eygypt. From the area around the Caribbean we have music by Ludovic Lamothe and Oswald Russell, and also from a new generation of composers, living in the UK, but with roots in the Caribbean.

“But in a programme that is looking at colonialism and immigration, I cannot ignore composers from other non-white cultures that share similar experiences.” Eleanor also looks at the contribution made to the classical music life of this country by composers who just happen to have links to India, the Middle-East and Asia. The programme features the music of Shirley J Thompson, Errollyn Wallen, Hannah Kendall, Param Vir, Nitin Sawhney, Amir Mahyar Tafreshipour, Raymond Yiu, Daniel Kidane and by Eleanor herself.


(photo credit: Ben Ealovega)

59 minutes

Last on

Sun 4 Oct 2020 23:00

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Music Played

  • Samuel Coleridge-Taylor

    Hiawatha's Wedding Feast - introduction and opening chorus

    Choir: Chorus of the Welsh National Opera. Orchestra: Orchestra of the Welsh National Opera. Conductor: Kenneth Alwyn.
  • Samuel Coleridge-Taylor

    Clarinet Quintet (2nd movement - Larghetto)

    Ensemble: Nash Ensemble.
  • Fela Sowande

    African Suite for harp and strings (1st movement - "Joyful Day")

    Performer: Fela Sowande.
  • Fela Sowande

    The Negro in Sacred Idiom: no.5 - Obangiji

    Performer: Fela Sowande.
  • Abu Bakr Khairat

    Symphony no 2 in G minor, "Folklorique Symphony": 1st movement

    Orchestra: Belgrade Philharmonic Orchestra. Conductor: Gika Zdravkovitch.
  • Ludovic Lamothe

    Album Leaf in F sharp minor

    Performer: Charles P Phillips.
    • Ifa Music Records.
  • Oswald Russell

    Three Jamaican Dances - dance no.3

    Performer: William Chapman Nyaho.
  • Shirley Thompson

    A 21st Century Symphony 'New Nation Rising': 2 - "Location, Location, Location"

    Orchestra: Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Conductor: Shirley Thompson.
  • Errollyn Wallen

    Horseplay: 4. Dark and Mysterious - Presto

    Ensemble: Ensemble X. Ensemble: The Continuum Ensemble. Conductor: Mike Henry.
  • Hannah Kendall

    Regina Caeli

    Choir: Choir of Merton College, Oxford. Conductor: Benjamin Nicholas.
  • Ravi Shankar

    Concerto for Sitar and Orchestra: 3rd movement

    Performer: Terence Emery. Orchestra: London Symphony Orchestra. Conductor: André Previn.
  • Param Vir

    White Light Chorale

    Performer: Thalia Myers.
  • Nitin Sawhney

    Music for the film "The Lodger": Titles

    Orchestra: London Symphony Orchestra. Conductor: Stephen Hussey.
  • Amir Mahyar Tafreshipour

    Concerto for Harp and Orchestra ("Persian Echoes"): 3rd movement (Allegro)

    Performer: Gabriella Dall'Olio. Orchestra: English Chamber Orchestra. Conductor: Alexander Rahbari.
  • Raymond Yiu

    Panufnik Variations - Variation 8

    Orchestra: London Symphony Orchestra. Conductor: François‐Xavier Roth.
  • Daniel Kidane


    Orchestra: BBC Symphony Orchestra. Conductor: Sakari Oramo.
  • Eleanor Alberga

    String Quartet no 3: 4th movement (Allegro)

    Ensemble: Ensemble Arcadiana.


  • Sun 24 May 2020 23:00
  • Sun 4 Oct 2020 23:00