Playing The Skyline

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Episodes

EpisodeTitleFirst
Broadcast
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01Millennium Bridge, London - Anna Meredith And Courtney Pine20140714

Courtney Pine and composer Anna Meredith play the skyline at the Millennium Bridge.

On old nautical charts as well as the bird's eye view there is often a coastal profile - the outline of the land seen from the point of view of a sailor approaching it. Radio producer Julian May was struck by the musicality of these, the undulations of hills are melodic, the spacing of landmarks - trees, spires - rhythmic. Musicians could, he thought, take the line dividing the earth from the air, place it on a stave, and play the skyline.

Prominent musicians were intrigued - the Scottish composer James MacMillan; Julie Fowlis, leading light of Gaelic song; Kizzy Crawford, an eighteen year old singer-songwriter of Welsh and Bajan heritage, at home in the English and Welsh; and Gwilym Simcock the Welsh pianist who writes classical pieces, and improvises, too.

For Radio 4 Tim Marlow presents three programmes, in England, Wales and Scotland, in which two musicians look at the skyline, give their responses, then begin playing it. Tim hears how they are getting on and, finally, the musicians, Tim and Radio 4's listeners hear for the first time the finished pieces.

The first programme begins in the National Maritime Museum where Robert Blyth, Senior Curator of Maritime History, shows Tim some coastal profiles and ponders what seamen whose lives depended on them might make of the idea that they could be an inspiration for music.

Then jazz musician Courtney Pine and the composer Anna Meredith join Tim on the Millennium Bridge in London. They consider the view from St Paul's, past the Walkie Talkie and Blackfriars Bridge to the Shard.

They speak about their responses, what intrigues them, and discuss how they they will render such a dramatic skyline, with its history and physical variety, in sound.

Producers: Julian May and Benedict Warren.

02Port Talbot: Kizzy Crawford and Gwilym Simcock20140721

Singer-songwriter Kizzy Crawford and pianist Gwilym Simcock play the Port Talbot skyline.

On old nautical charts as well as the bird's eye view there is often a coastal profile - the outline of the land seen from the point of view of a sailor approaching it. Radio producer Julian May was struck by the musicality of these, the undulations of hills are melodic, the spacing of landmarks - trees, church spires - rhythmic. Musicians could, he thought, take the line dividing sky from land, place it on manuscript paper, and play the skyline.

Half a dozen prominent musicians are intrigued by this, including jazz musician Courtney Pine; the Scottish composer James MacMillan; Julie Fowlis, leading light of Gaelic song; and Anna Meredith, who was commissioned to create a piece for the Last Night of the Proms.

For Radio 4 Tim Marlow presents three programmes, in England, Wales and Scotland, in which two musicians look at the skyline, talk about their initial responses, then create a piece of music each - playing their skyline. He hears how they are getting along then the musicians, Tim (and Radio 4's listeners) hear for the finished pieces, and consider what they have made.

In the second programme the singer and song writer Kizzy Crawford and pianist Gwilym Simcock create new pieces inspired by the outline against the sky of Port Talbot, seen from the sea. The town, the hills beyond and the steelworks encapsulate the geography and history of Wales.

Kizzy Crawford is eighteen, of Welsh and Bajan heritage, a singer and songwriter at home in English and Welsh. Gwilym Simcock is a Welsh pianist who composes classical pieces, and improvises, too,

They meet Tim Marlow aboard the Seren y Mor (Star of the Sea) looking from out at sea at Port Talbot, whose skyline they will make into music and song.

Producers: Julian May and Benedict Warren.

03 LASTCumnock and Ben Wyvis20140728

03 LASTCumnock and Ben Wyvis20140728

James MacMillan plays a lowland skyline, Gaelic singer Julie Fowlis one in the highlands.

03 LASTCumnock and Ben Wyvis20140728

03 LASTCumnock and Ben Wyvis20140728

On old nautical charts as well as the bird's eye view there is often a coastal profile - the outline of the land seen from the point of view of a sailor approaching it. Radio producer Julian May was struck by the musicality of these, the undulations of hills are melodic, the spacing of landmarks - trees, church spires - rhythmic. Musicians could, he thought, take the line dividing sky from land, place it on manuscript paper, and play the skyline.

Half a dozen prominent musicians are intrigued by this, including jazz musician Courtney Pine, Anna Meredith, who was commissioned to create a piece for the Last Night of the Proms, Welsh pianist Gwilym Simcock and Kizzy Crawford eighteen, of Bajan heritage, a singer and songwriter at home in English and Welsh.

For Radio 4 Tim Marlow presents three programmes, in England, Wales and Scotland, in which two musicians look at the skyline, talk about their initial responses, then create a piece of music each - playing their skyline. He hears how they are getting along then the musicians, Tim (and Radio 4's listeners) hear for the finished pieces, and consider what they have made.

This final programme bucks the format somewhat to reflect the cultural realities of Scotland - lowland/highland, rural/industrial and Gaelic/English (or Scots). So James MacMillan plays, with help from local schoolchildren and musicians from the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, the skyline Cumnock, the pit village in Ayrshire where he spent his childhood. Julie Fowlis, drawing on Gaelic poetry, traces in music the skyline of Ben Wyvis in Easter Ross.

Producers: Benedict Warren and Julian May.