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Private Passions

BBC Radio 3

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Followers
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Private Passions

Private Passions

BBC Radio 3

52
Followers
68
Plays
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About Us

Michael Berkeley's guests share their musical passions and reveal which pieces bring them joy and sustain them through hard times.

Latest Episodes

Stephen Schwartz

Stephen Schwartz is a master of musicals. He wrote Godspell, Pippin, and The Baker’s Wife; he’s written the lyrics for films such as Pocohontas, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Enchanted - and many others. His musical Wicked, for which he wrote the words and music, has become something of a cult; it opened on Broadway in 2003 and in the West End in 2006, and it’s been running both in New York and in London ever since. He’s received numerous awards – three Oscars, four Grammys – and he’s over from New York for the opening of his new musical, The Prince of Egypt, a stage version of the popular film. In conversation with Michael Berkeley, Stephen Schwartz reveals how classical music gives him ideas for his most successful musical numbers. In fact, he admits, he steals ideas from the great composers “flagrantly”. The opening of Wicked, for instance, comes from Rachmaninov’s Prelude in C-sharp minor – listeners to this episode can hear both, and compare them. He has been influenced too by Carl Orff and the exuberant orchestration of Carmina Burana. He also talks us through the bass chords he has borrowed from Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata, and the two bars of Beethoven that he believes are the most moving music ever written. He reflects about the success of Wicked – and the “green girl inside us all”. Other musical choices include Bernstein’s Mass, Bach’s sixth Brandenburg Concerto, Copland’s Appalachian Spring, and Puccini’s opera La Rondine. Produced by Elizabeth Burke A Loftus production for BBC Radio 3

36 MIN1 w ago
Comments
Stephen Schwartz

Isabel Allende

Isabel Allende’s first novel, “The House of the Spirits” catapulted her to literary stardom, and was acclaimed as a classic of Latin American magic realism. That was nearly forty years ago and she’s not stopped writing since: with twenty novels and four volumes of memoir, she’s been translated all over the world and has sold some seventy-four million books. They’re vivid family sagas, with eccentric characters, dramatic reversals, discoveries of lost children, violent death, disease and revolution, and sudden consuming love affairs. But Isabel Allende’s own life is as extraordinary as any of her novels. Abandoned by her father as a small child, she spent her early years travelling across South America with her stepfather, who was a diplomat. He was the cousin of Salvador Allende, Chile’s socialist leader, who became Isabel’s godfather. But when Allende was deposed by the right-wing government of General Pinochet in 1973, Isabel – by then married, with children – became caught up in the violent revolution and had to flee the country. She now lives with her third husband in California. In conversation with Michael Berkeley, Isabel Allende reflects on her extraordinary life, and reveals how she has found happiness now in her seventies. Music choices include Vivaldi, Mozart’s Flute Concerto No. 1, Albinoni, the Chilean singer Victor Jara, a moving song from the Spanish Civil War, and a Mexican love song from the 1940s, “Kiss Me Lots”. A Loftus production for BBC Radio 3 Produced by Elizabeth Burke

33 MIN2 w ago
Comments
Isabel Allende

Women Composers Compilation

As part of Radio 3’s celebration of female composers, Michael Berkeley draws together some of his guests who have championed works by women. Turner Prize-winner Helen Cammock introduces the 17th-century Venetian composer Barbara Strozzi, and actor Greta Scacchi tells the story of her discovery of the 18th-century musician and composer Maria Cosway. There is music too by Hildegard of Bingen, the 12th-century writer, abbess and mystic, who is a role model for scientist Uta Frith; and a discussion of Clara Schumann and her complex relationship with husband Robert from biographer Lucasta Miller. Architect Daniel Libeskind champions the work of the Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho, whose work for him conjures up the glittering beauty of modern glass buildings. And Michael Berkeley reveals the answer to the question he’s frequently asked about this programme: which composer gets chosen most often? And the answer is that, apart from Bach, probably the most popular choice of all at the moment – from men, women, young, old, artists, scientists, writers – is Nina Simone. A Loftus production for BBC Radio 3 Produced by Elizabeth Burke

33 MIN3 w ago
Comments
Women Composers Compilation

Piers Gough

Piers Gough co-founded his own architectural practice while he was still at college, at the age of only twenty-two. He made his name during the redevelopment of London’s Docklands, though you can also see his work in Liverpool (the golden “bling bling” building), in Nottingham, where he built a centre for Maggie’s cancer charity, and in Glasgow, where he designed the masterplan for the redevelopment of the Gorbals. He’s won numerous awards for his buildings, not least for his bright-green triangular public lavatory in London’s Westbourne Grove. And six of his buildings have been listed by English Heritage, protected for posterity. He’s been president of the Architectural Association, he’s a Royal Academician... which all sounds steady enough, but trying to sum up his style, the Architects Journal said: “One’s never certain whether one is in a town house, a country house, a castle, or a gigantic piece of sculpture.” In conversation with Michael Berkeley, Piers Gough reflects on the challenges of designing for the modern city, and on the influence of the accident that broke his spine and which at one point made him doubtful that he would ever walk again. He shares, too, the surprise and fun of becoming a father in his sixties. Music choices include William Walton’s “Belshazzar’s Feast”; Monteverdi’s haunting love duet “Pur ti miro”; Handel’s “Semele”; and Piers's favourite country-music track, “Truckstop Honeymoon”. A Loftus production for BBC Radio 3 Produced by Elizabeth Burke.

31 MINMAR 2
Comments
Piers Gough

Chibundu Onuzo

Michael Berkeley talks to author Chibundu Onuzo about the challenge of writing novels while studying for her A-levels, and the role of music and faith in her life. At the age of nineteen Chibundu became the youngest female writer ever to be signed by Faber and Faber. She started writing aged ten while growing up in Lagos, Nigeria and was working on her first novel, ‘The Spider King’s Daughter’, while doing her A levels at boarding school in England. It was published while she was still at university and was shortlisted for a host of prizes – winning a 2013 Betty Trask Award. Her second novel, ‘Welcome to Lagos’, was published in 2017 to great acclaim. Chibundu talks to Michael Berkeley about growing up in Lagos, and the challenge of adapting to life at boarding school in Britain. She chooses a carol, ‘I Wonder as I Wander’, that she sang with her school choir in Winchester Cathedral. The soundtrack to a Nigerian television advert from the 1990s speaks to her about the tensions between Western and traditional values in Nigeria. We hear a miniature by Christian Petzold that will be familiar to anyone who has ever learned the piano, alongside music from Handel and from Dvorak’s Symphony No. 9, ‘From the New World’. And, in a special moment for Private Passions, Chibundu is joined in the studio by members of her family to sing a setting of Psalm 23 by her uncle, Bishop Ken Okeke. Produced by Jane Greenwood. A Loftus production for BBC Radio 3.

36 MINFEB 23
Comments
Chibundu Onuzo

Jonathan Aitken

In a frank and moving interview the priest and former politician Jonathan Aitken talks to Michael Berkeley about the music that has accompanied his rollercoaster life. At one time Jonathan Aitken was widely tipped to be a future Conservative Prime Minister, but his glittering political career came crashing down just over twenty years ago, when he stood in the dock of the Old Bailey to plead guilty to perjury, after a lie he told about the payment of a hotel bill caused the collapse of his libel case against the Guardian and Granada Television. He left the court in a prison van with an 18-month sentence. Last December, he was back at the Old Bailey – this time leading the annual carol service, having recently been ordained as a priest. Jonathan chooses pieces which bring back childhood memories of singing for Benjamin Britten and performing Messiah as a chorister in Norwich, and we hear a song John McCormack sang to him during the three years Jonathan spent on a Dublin TB ward as a very young child. He talks frankly to Michael about the mistakes and pride that led to his downfall from public life, and how he survived disgrace, divorce, bankruptcy and prison. He chooses, with a smile, the Prisoners’ Chorus from Fidelio, and a setting of Psalm 24 that was a crucial part of his spiritual journey in prison. Jonathan tells a funny musical story about when Nixon met Wilson, and he reveals the piece of music that best captures his sense of redemption and renewal as he embarks on his new life as a prison chaplain. Producer: Jane Greenwood A Loftus production for BBC Radio 3

42 MINFEB 16
Comments
Jonathan Aitken

Ann Wroe

Michael Berkeley talks to the writer Ann Wroe about the inspiration and comfort she finds in music. Ann spends the first 36 hours of each week wrestling with the challenge of distilling the life of a person into just 1000 words – because, for nearly two decades, she has written the weekly obituary for The Economist. The rest of Ann’s week is spent wrestling with biography of an altogether different kind - because she finds the subjects for her books in the shadowy territory where history meets myth. She dares to mix intense scholarship with her own imagination to capture the essence of figures as varied as Perkin Warbeck, the pretender to the English throne; Pontius Pilate; and the mythical lyric poet Orpheus. Hilary Mantel has said of her: ‘She is a genius, because she lights up every subject she touches’. Ann tells Michael why she is attracted to such ambiguous subjects for her biographies and why she often chooses the quirky over the famous for her Economist obituaries – she’s written about the lives of firefighters, woodcarvers and even animals. Passionate about the natural world, Ann chooses piano music by Schubert that conjures up walks on the South Downs; Jonathan Dove’s Seek Him that Maketh the Seven Stars; and Frank Bridge’s The Sea, which takes her to her beloved Brighton. She talks movingly about her attitude towards death and what might come after it, and tells Michael why most of her music choices are ‘bittersweet’, including a song by Vaughan Williams to remember her late husband. Producer: Jane Greenwood A Loftus production for BBC Radio 3

32 MINFEB 9
Comments
Ann Wroe

James Thornton

Michael Berkeley talks to the environmental lawyer James Thornton about tackling the climate crisis, about Zen Buddhism and about James's love of the violin. Every day we’re bombarded with more bad news about the climate crisis, deadly air pollution, and our oceans filling up with plastic. So who will save our fragile planet? The UN? Governments? Scientists? Activists? If James Thornton is anything to go by, it might well be lawyers. As the founding CEO of ClientEarth, an international not-for-profit organisation, he holds governments and corporations to account and forces them to uphold environmental legislation. Many musicians support the work of ClientEarth – David Gilmour donated the $21million raised from the sale of his guitars – and James chooses music with an environmental theme from his long-time collaborator Brian Eno. He talks to Michael about his lifelong passion for the violin and how playing it helps him keep his life in balance - he chooses Jascha Heifitz’s astonishing recording of Sibelius’s Violin Concerto. He is also an ordained Zen Buddhist priest and we hear a key Buddhist text set by the master of modern gamelan, Lou Harrison. And James talks about why he prefers life in the UK to his native USA, not least because he was able to marry his long-term partner, the writer Martin Goodman. We hear the music by György Kurtág which they chose for their wedding. Producer: Jane Greenwood A Loftus production for BBC Radio 3

36 MINFEB 2
Comments
James Thornton

William Sieghart

William Sieghart, the founder of the Forward Prizes for poetry and National Poetry Day, talks to Michael Berkeley about the music and poetry he loves. Over the last twenty-five years National Poetry Day has become a popular fixture in the cultural calendar, and it was William’s idea to have permanent poems engraved at the Olympic Park in East London. He’s also the creator of the hugely successful Poetry Pharmacy. At festivals and events, William sits in a tent and people bring him their dilemmas, problems and sadnesses - and he ‘prescribes’ them a poem to console, comfort or encourage. The Poetry Pharmacy has spread to Radio 4, television and hugely successful poetry anthologies, described by Stephen Fry as ‘a matchless compound of hug, tonic and kiss’. William chooses music by Schubert and by Mendelssohn that reminds him of his father, who fled Vienna just before the Second World War, and he talks movingly about the effect of his father’s immigrant experience on his own life. He describes how poetry and, later, music, helped him through his distress at being sent to boarding school at the age of eight and chooses recordings of music by Bach and by Debussy that have remained vital to him ever since. And in the spirit of the Poetry Pharmacy, he reveals the poetry and music he turns to for comfort in a crisis. Producer: Jane Greenwood A Loftus production for BBC Radio 3

31 MINJAN 19
Comments
William Sieghart

Helen Cammock

Helen Cammock grew up wanting to be a singer, and performed on the folk circuit as a teenager. But then she stopped, and became a social worker for more than ten years. Finally, at the age of 35, she took up photography, went to art school – and she’s never looked back. She’s known now for her richly-layered video installations, which mix film archive, dance and poetry with current interviews, all woven together with music. She is the joint winner of the 2019 Turner Prize; for the first time in its 35-year history, the Prize was shared between all four artists on the shortlist, at their request. In Private Passions, she talks to Michael Berkeley about why music is at the heart of all her work. Last year the MaxMara art prize paid for her to spend six months working in Italy, and there she began to explore the subject of lament, and particularly laments sung by women. As part of her performance work, Helen Cammock began to take singing lessons again, and lament, loss, longing, and hopes for a better future, are all captured in the music she chooses. She shares the excitement of discovering little-known women composers of the 17th century Francesca Caccini and Barbara Strozzi. She talks about the troubling incident which persuaded her to give up a career in social work, when she was told to abandon a young woman outside a police station. She remembers the isolation and boredom of growing up in the countryside of Somerset, and the racist abuse her family faced every Saturday when they went shopping together. Music choices include Jessye Norman singing Purcell’s “Dido’s Lament”; Glenn Gould humming along to Bach; Nina Simone on the piano; and Shostakovich’s Cello Concerto. A Loftus production for BBC Radio 3 Produced by Elizabeth Burke

33 MINJAN 12
Comments
Helen Cammock

Latest Episodes

Stephen Schwartz

Stephen Schwartz is a master of musicals. He wrote Godspell, Pippin, and The Baker’s Wife; he’s written the lyrics for films such as Pocohontas, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Enchanted - and many others. His musical Wicked, for which he wrote the words and music, has become something of a cult; it opened on Broadway in 2003 and in the West End in 2006, and it’s been running both in New York and in London ever since. He’s received numerous awards – three Oscars, four Grammys – and he’s over from New York for the opening of his new musical, The Prince of Egypt, a stage version of the popular film. In conversation with Michael Berkeley, Stephen Schwartz reveals how classical music gives him ideas for his most successful musical numbers. In fact, he admits, he steals ideas from the great composers “flagrantly”. The opening of Wicked, for instance, comes from Rachmaninov’s Prelude in C-sharp minor – listeners to this episode can hear both, and compare them. He has been influenced too by Carl Orff and the exuberant orchestration of Carmina Burana. He also talks us through the bass chords he has borrowed from Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata, and the two bars of Beethoven that he believes are the most moving music ever written. He reflects about the success of Wicked – and the “green girl inside us all”. Other musical choices include Bernstein’s Mass, Bach’s sixth Brandenburg Concerto, Copland’s Appalachian Spring, and Puccini’s opera La Rondine. Produced by Elizabeth Burke A Loftus production for BBC Radio 3

36 MIN1 w ago
Comments
Stephen Schwartz

Isabel Allende

Isabel Allende’s first novel, “The House of the Spirits” catapulted her to literary stardom, and was acclaimed as a classic of Latin American magic realism. That was nearly forty years ago and she’s not stopped writing since: with twenty novels and four volumes of memoir, she’s been translated all over the world and has sold some seventy-four million books. They’re vivid family sagas, with eccentric characters, dramatic reversals, discoveries of lost children, violent death, disease and revolution, and sudden consuming love affairs. But Isabel Allende’s own life is as extraordinary as any of her novels. Abandoned by her father as a small child, she spent her early years travelling across South America with her stepfather, who was a diplomat. He was the cousin of Salvador Allende, Chile’s socialist leader, who became Isabel’s godfather. But when Allende was deposed by the right-wing government of General Pinochet in 1973, Isabel – by then married, with children – became caught up in the violent revolution and had to flee the country. She now lives with her third husband in California. In conversation with Michael Berkeley, Isabel Allende reflects on her extraordinary life, and reveals how she has found happiness now in her seventies. Music choices include Vivaldi, Mozart’s Flute Concerto No. 1, Albinoni, the Chilean singer Victor Jara, a moving song from the Spanish Civil War, and a Mexican love song from the 1940s, “Kiss Me Lots”. A Loftus production for BBC Radio 3 Produced by Elizabeth Burke

33 MIN2 w ago
Comments
Isabel Allende

Women Composers Compilation

As part of Radio 3’s celebration of female composers, Michael Berkeley draws together some of his guests who have championed works by women. Turner Prize-winner Helen Cammock introduces the 17th-century Venetian composer Barbara Strozzi, and actor Greta Scacchi tells the story of her discovery of the 18th-century musician and composer Maria Cosway. There is music too by Hildegard of Bingen, the 12th-century writer, abbess and mystic, who is a role model for scientist Uta Frith; and a discussion of Clara Schumann and her complex relationship with husband Robert from biographer Lucasta Miller. Architect Daniel Libeskind champions the work of the Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho, whose work for him conjures up the glittering beauty of modern glass buildings. And Michael Berkeley reveals the answer to the question he’s frequently asked about this programme: which composer gets chosen most often? And the answer is that, apart from Bach, probably the most popular choice of all at the moment – from men, women, young, old, artists, scientists, writers – is Nina Simone. A Loftus production for BBC Radio 3 Produced by Elizabeth Burke

33 MIN3 w ago
Comments
Women Composers Compilation

Piers Gough

Piers Gough co-founded his own architectural practice while he was still at college, at the age of only twenty-two. He made his name during the redevelopment of London’s Docklands, though you can also see his work in Liverpool (the golden “bling bling” building), in Nottingham, where he built a centre for Maggie’s cancer charity, and in Glasgow, where he designed the masterplan for the redevelopment of the Gorbals. He’s won numerous awards for his buildings, not least for his bright-green triangular public lavatory in London’s Westbourne Grove. And six of his buildings have been listed by English Heritage, protected for posterity. He’s been president of the Architectural Association, he’s a Royal Academician... which all sounds steady enough, but trying to sum up his style, the Architects Journal said: “One’s never certain whether one is in a town house, a country house, a castle, or a gigantic piece of sculpture.” In conversation with Michael Berkeley, Piers Gough reflects on the challenges of designing for the modern city, and on the influence of the accident that broke his spine and which at one point made him doubtful that he would ever walk again. He shares, too, the surprise and fun of becoming a father in his sixties. Music choices include William Walton’s “Belshazzar’s Feast”; Monteverdi’s haunting love duet “Pur ti miro”; Handel’s “Semele”; and Piers's favourite country-music track, “Truckstop Honeymoon”. A Loftus production for BBC Radio 3 Produced by Elizabeth Burke.

31 MINMAR 2
Comments
Piers Gough

Chibundu Onuzo

Michael Berkeley talks to author Chibundu Onuzo about the challenge of writing novels while studying for her A-levels, and the role of music and faith in her life. At the age of nineteen Chibundu became the youngest female writer ever to be signed by Faber and Faber. She started writing aged ten while growing up in Lagos, Nigeria and was working on her first novel, ‘The Spider King’s Daughter’, while doing her A levels at boarding school in England. It was published while she was still at university and was shortlisted for a host of prizes – winning a 2013 Betty Trask Award. Her second novel, ‘Welcome to Lagos’, was published in 2017 to great acclaim. Chibundu talks to Michael Berkeley about growing up in Lagos, and the challenge of adapting to life at boarding school in Britain. She chooses a carol, ‘I Wonder as I Wander’, that she sang with her school choir in Winchester Cathedral. The soundtrack to a Nigerian television advert from the 1990s speaks to her about the tensions between Western and traditional values in Nigeria. We hear a miniature by Christian Petzold that will be familiar to anyone who has ever learned the piano, alongside music from Handel and from Dvorak’s Symphony No. 9, ‘From the New World’. And, in a special moment for Private Passions, Chibundu is joined in the studio by members of her family to sing a setting of Psalm 23 by her uncle, Bishop Ken Okeke. Produced by Jane Greenwood. A Loftus production for BBC Radio 3.

36 MINFEB 23
Comments
Chibundu Onuzo

Jonathan Aitken

In a frank and moving interview the priest and former politician Jonathan Aitken talks to Michael Berkeley about the music that has accompanied his rollercoaster life. At one time Jonathan Aitken was widely tipped to be a future Conservative Prime Minister, but his glittering political career came crashing down just over twenty years ago, when he stood in the dock of the Old Bailey to plead guilty to perjury, after a lie he told about the payment of a hotel bill caused the collapse of his libel case against the Guardian and Granada Television. He left the court in a prison van with an 18-month sentence. Last December, he was back at the Old Bailey – this time leading the annual carol service, having recently been ordained as a priest. Jonathan chooses pieces which bring back childhood memories of singing for Benjamin Britten and performing Messiah as a chorister in Norwich, and we hear a song John McCormack sang to him during the three years Jonathan spent on a Dublin TB ward as a very young child. He talks frankly to Michael about the mistakes and pride that led to his downfall from public life, and how he survived disgrace, divorce, bankruptcy and prison. He chooses, with a smile, the Prisoners’ Chorus from Fidelio, and a setting of Psalm 24 that was a crucial part of his spiritual journey in prison. Jonathan tells a funny musical story about when Nixon met Wilson, and he reveals the piece of music that best captures his sense of redemption and renewal as he embarks on his new life as a prison chaplain. Producer: Jane Greenwood A Loftus production for BBC Radio 3

42 MINFEB 16
Comments
Jonathan Aitken

Ann Wroe

Michael Berkeley talks to the writer Ann Wroe about the inspiration and comfort she finds in music. Ann spends the first 36 hours of each week wrestling with the challenge of distilling the life of a person into just 1000 words – because, for nearly two decades, she has written the weekly obituary for The Economist. The rest of Ann’s week is spent wrestling with biography of an altogether different kind - because she finds the subjects for her books in the shadowy territory where history meets myth. She dares to mix intense scholarship with her own imagination to capture the essence of figures as varied as Perkin Warbeck, the pretender to the English throne; Pontius Pilate; and the mythical lyric poet Orpheus. Hilary Mantel has said of her: ‘She is a genius, because she lights up every subject she touches’. Ann tells Michael why she is attracted to such ambiguous subjects for her biographies and why she often chooses the quirky over the famous for her Economist obituaries – she’s written about the lives of firefighters, woodcarvers and even animals. Passionate about the natural world, Ann chooses piano music by Schubert that conjures up walks on the South Downs; Jonathan Dove’s Seek Him that Maketh the Seven Stars; and Frank Bridge’s The Sea, which takes her to her beloved Brighton. She talks movingly about her attitude towards death and what might come after it, and tells Michael why most of her music choices are ‘bittersweet’, including a song by Vaughan Williams to remember her late husband. Producer: Jane Greenwood A Loftus production for BBC Radio 3

32 MINFEB 9
Comments
Ann Wroe

James Thornton

Michael Berkeley talks to the environmental lawyer James Thornton about tackling the climate crisis, about Zen Buddhism and about James's love of the violin. Every day we’re bombarded with more bad news about the climate crisis, deadly air pollution, and our oceans filling up with plastic. So who will save our fragile planet? The UN? Governments? Scientists? Activists? If James Thornton is anything to go by, it might well be lawyers. As the founding CEO of ClientEarth, an international not-for-profit organisation, he holds governments and corporations to account and forces them to uphold environmental legislation. Many musicians support the work of ClientEarth – David Gilmour donated the $21million raised from the sale of his guitars – and James chooses music with an environmental theme from his long-time collaborator Brian Eno. He talks to Michael about his lifelong passion for the violin and how playing it helps him keep his life in balance - he chooses Jascha Heifitz’s astonishing recording of Sibelius’s Violin Concerto. He is also an ordained Zen Buddhist priest and we hear a key Buddhist text set by the master of modern gamelan, Lou Harrison. And James talks about why he prefers life in the UK to his native USA, not least because he was able to marry his long-term partner, the writer Martin Goodman. We hear the music by György Kurtág which they chose for their wedding. Producer: Jane Greenwood A Loftus production for BBC Radio 3

36 MINFEB 2
Comments
James Thornton

William Sieghart

William Sieghart, the founder of the Forward Prizes for poetry and National Poetry Day, talks to Michael Berkeley about the music and poetry he loves. Over the last twenty-five years National Poetry Day has become a popular fixture in the cultural calendar, and it was William’s idea to have permanent poems engraved at the Olympic Park in East London. He’s also the creator of the hugely successful Poetry Pharmacy. At festivals and events, William sits in a tent and people bring him their dilemmas, problems and sadnesses - and he ‘prescribes’ them a poem to console, comfort or encourage. The Poetry Pharmacy has spread to Radio 4, television and hugely successful poetry anthologies, described by Stephen Fry as ‘a matchless compound of hug, tonic and kiss’. William chooses music by Schubert and by Mendelssohn that reminds him of his father, who fled Vienna just before the Second World War, and he talks movingly about the effect of his father’s immigrant experience on his own life. He describes how poetry and, later, music, helped him through his distress at being sent to boarding school at the age of eight and chooses recordings of music by Bach and by Debussy that have remained vital to him ever since. And in the spirit of the Poetry Pharmacy, he reveals the poetry and music he turns to for comfort in a crisis. Producer: Jane Greenwood A Loftus production for BBC Radio 3

31 MINJAN 19
Comments
William Sieghart

Helen Cammock

Helen Cammock grew up wanting to be a singer, and performed on the folk circuit as a teenager. But then she stopped, and became a social worker for more than ten years. Finally, at the age of 35, she took up photography, went to art school – and she’s never looked back. She’s known now for her richly-layered video installations, which mix film archive, dance and poetry with current interviews, all woven together with music. She is the joint winner of the 2019 Turner Prize; for the first time in its 35-year history, the Prize was shared between all four artists on the shortlist, at their request. In Private Passions, she talks to Michael Berkeley about why music is at the heart of all her work. Last year the MaxMara art prize paid for her to spend six months working in Italy, and there she began to explore the subject of lament, and particularly laments sung by women. As part of her performance work, Helen Cammock began to take singing lessons again, and lament, loss, longing, and hopes for a better future, are all captured in the music she chooses. She shares the excitement of discovering little-known women composers of the 17th century Francesca Caccini and Barbara Strozzi. She talks about the troubling incident which persuaded her to give up a career in social work, when she was told to abandon a young woman outside a police station. She remembers the isolation and boredom of growing up in the countryside of Somerset, and the racist abuse her family faced every Saturday when they went shopping together. Music choices include Jessye Norman singing Purcell’s “Dido’s Lament”; Glenn Gould humming along to Bach; Nina Simone on the piano; and Shostakovich’s Cello Concerto. A Loftus production for BBC Radio 3 Produced by Elizabeth Burke

33 MINJAN 12
Comments
Helen Cammock
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