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Kilburn Passion by Amy Ng

Daniel Mays plays a broken man who is coaxed back to life by memories when he hears Bach’s St Matthew’s Passion playing over the tannoy in Kilburn underground station.

Daniel Mays stars as a man, beaten and broken. Tam is coaxed back to life by memories when he hears Bach’s St Matthew’s Passion playing over the tannoy in Kilburn underground station.

This complex piece is written by Amy Ng, a writer new to the BBC.

It is one of six new short monologues developed and produced by BBC Writersroom for Radio 3 as part of the BBC Music Day celebrations.

Each drama celebrates this year’s theme – The Power of Music – with a monologue about the transformative power of music.

Other monologues are performed by actors including Liam Neeson, Julie Hesmondhalgh and Tamsin Greig.

Tam..... Daniel Mays
Director and Series Producer..... Justine Potter
Assistant Producer..... Usman Mullan
Executive Producer..... Anne Edyvean

Sound Designer and Editor..... Helen Garrison
Music Editor..... Jeremy Evans

Composer..... Johann Sebastian Bach
Music..... The St Matthew’s Passion

A note from the writer Amy Ng:

I am a musician as well as a writer, so was thrilled by the commission to write a monologue on ‘the power of music’. My excitement grew to fever pitch after the one day workshop with the amazing Writersroom team — this was my first time writing for radio, and the central role that music plays in radio drama was a revelation to me.

The most powerful piece of music I’ve encountered is Bach’s St. Matthew Passion, but I was coming out of a period when I couldn’t play Bach after finding out that the Passion chorales were quite possibly performed and conducted by Bach himself at public executions. This came as a real shock, since Bach is always held up as the religious composer par excellence — creating ‘for the greater glory of God’ — and seemed to epitomise the hypocrisies and the will to power I found in certain types of organised religion. Then I had the great good fortune to watch/hear the Peter Sellars/Simon Rattle staging of the Matthew Passion, and was awestruck all over again. However, it was only during the writing of this monologue, with constant encouragement from Abigail Gonda, Justine Potter, and Anne Edyvean of the Writersroom to find the redemption in the piece, and listening to both the Rattle and the John Eliot Gardiner versions of the Passion non-stop, that I had an epiphany about what the music actually meant. I won’t go into details here because it’s in the monologue, but feel I can re-claim Bach now as a kindred spirit keener on truth than power.


6 minutes

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