The Cairo Genizah is a treasure trove of medieval manuscripts found inside the ancient, crumbling Ben Ezra synagogue. Reflecting 800 years of community life, the documents contain everything from prayers to children’s exercise books and business letters to the complaints of disgruntled wives. In this Essay series a group of scholars from the Genizah Research Unit navigate the archives to reveal their favourite fragments and weave a tale of the life of a multi-cultural medieval society not so different from our own.
Nightjar’s next radio production will be a series of Essays for BBC Radio 3
The Cairo Genizah is a treasure trove of medieval manuscripts found inside the ancient, crumbling Ben Ezra synagogue. Reflecting 800 years of community life, the documents contain everything from prayers to children’s exercise books and business letters to the complaints of disgruntled wives. In the series five scholars from Cambridge University Library’s Genizah Research Unit will navigate the archives to reveal their favourite fragments and weave a tale of the life of a multi-cultural medieval society not so different from our own.
BBC Radio 2 – 30 January, 6 February, 13 February 2012, 10.00pm
In the twilight of British colonial rule brass bands were the soundtrack to Empire. But as a new era of Independence dawned, the old military tunes were replaced by more distinctive, local sounds.
In World Class Brass, actor and trumpet player Colin Salmon takes listeners on a journey across four continents to trace the musical legacy of the British Empire and discover some truly unusual and uplifting brass.
The journey begins in the island nation of Malta, fiercely proud of its brass heritage, but with Maltese culture being a mix of British, Italian and North African influences, the country has marched the British brass band to surprising new places.
Next stop are the deserts of Northern India, where generations of brass musicians have played for local royalty. Nowadays, most bands find employment leading the festivities at marriages. British group Bollywood Brass Band travel to India to lend an an ‘exotic’ touch to a high-society nuptial, bringing the story of British-Indian brass full circle.
It’s hard to imagine West African music without brass and in this episode, the journey begins in Ghana, following the sound of the brass band through the Ghanaian military, the church and popular highlife music. Meanwhile, in neighbouring Nigeria, brass rang out both the melody and the rhythm in the afrobeat music of the legendary Fela Kuti.
The final episode begins in the Caribbean. Best known for carnival, Trinidad and Tobago is also the home of calypso. So it’s no surprise that British-inspired military brass found its way onto recordings by legendary calypsonians such as the Mighty Sparrow, Lord Kitchener and even the American Harry Belafonte. The Trinidad & Tobago Defence Force Band are also featured, as well as an interview with the much-loved female calypsonian, Calypso Rose.
Meanwhile across the water in New York, a band of eight brothers is moving live brass in a completely new direction with the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble. The finale is a group of youngsters at Britain’s own Notting Hill Carnival, who mash-up vintage Caribbean sounds with everything from hip-hop to English folk, confirming that World Class Brass is alive and kicking in the UK.
Written and produced by Miranda Hinkley and Jonathan Walton. Presented by Colin Salmon. Assistant producers Michele Banal and Imani Wilson. Series producer Miranda Hinkley.
85 this year, Mikis Theodorakis is best known for the music to 1974 film Zorba the Greek, but as Miranda Hinkley discovers, there’s also a wealth of chamber music, operas and symphonies. Part of the resistance during WW2, imprisoned during the Civil War, exiled during the military dictatorship, his story mirrors that of modern Greece. And he’s responsible for a musical revolution, a uniquely Greek sound. In this 45 minute music feature Theodorakis is joined by singers Maria Farantouri and Marios Frangoulis and by violinist Georgios Demertzis, to look back on a 60-year career.
Produced and presented by Miranda Hinkley. Executive Producer Alan Hall.