Dr Lucy Walker welcomes a range of fun and interesting guests to explore all things Britten and Pears, music, culture, heritage - as well as anything else that might come up.

Browse Season 3 below, or jump to Season 1 or Season 2

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Britten's A Ceremony of Carols is one of his most popular choral works - and it very much comes into its own at this time of year. In this podcast Dr Lucy Walker explores both the beautiful music of this piece, and its riveting backstory which involves a pioneering harpist, a Canadian bookshop, and a perilous crossing across the Atlantic.

She is joined by three musicians who regularly take part in performances of A Ceremony of Carols: harpist Miriam Keogh, soprano Madeleine Holmes, and conductor Ben Vonberg-Clark.

The musical tracks in this podcast are all from A Ceremony of Carols. The recording is performed by the National Youth Girls Choir, with Vicky Lester on harp, conducted by Esther Jones. With grateful thanks to Delphian Records for allowing us to use extracts from this recording.

We are thrilled to be launching Season 3 with a very special guest. Reverend Richard Coles is a Church of England priest, broadcaster, writer, and former popstar.

Tune in for a wide-ranging conversation with Reverend Coles about his extraordinary life and variety of careers, his lifelong love of music of all kinds from Motown to Benjamin Britten, the experience of being an 'accidental popstar', life as a gay man and political activist in the 1980s, how Christian faith can manifest in music and in physical spaces, the great 'community' of both activism and the Church, and the life-changing effects of the recent lockdown. Plus, what our contributors (and dogs) have been listening to lately.

This week, Lucy Walker is joined by writer, historian and curator Dr Anna Maria Barry.

In this podcast during Women's History Month, Lucy and Anna have a fascinating conversation about a wide range of histories, and how historical stories are told. Tune in to hear about celebrities of the nineteenth century, the heroic figure of the British tenor (and how Italian tenors became the villains of romantic novels!), portraits and death masks of musicians, composer Ethel Smyth and her purple outfits, and the cliche of the 'tragic' female performer. Plus, the usual wide range of music our speakers have been listening to.

This week, Lucy is joined by Jamie Njoku-Goodwin, Chief Executive of UK Music and Trustee of Britten Pears Arts.

As we celebrate a year of Britten Pears Arts, we welcome a new Trustee! Jamie Njoku-Goodwin has had a remarkable career, from a music degree at Nottingham University, to a move into the political sphere, and his recent appointment as Chief Executive of UK Music. Tune in to hear a fascinating conversation about the emotional impact of music, how performing and hearing music can have a huge effect on our health and wellbeing, the devestating consequences of the pandemic on the music industry, and how we've all hugely missed live performance. Plus, some great tracks for our podcast playlist.

This week, Lucy is joined by organist, harpsichordist, choral conductor, and Director of Music of HM Chapel Royal, Joseph McHardy.

Tune in for a fascinating conversation between Lucy and Joe (who are both alumni of Edinburgh University!) about the rich and varied European choral tradition. The Chapel Royal at St James's Palace has an extraordinary history, intertwining the musical interests of English monarchs with the great musicians of the previous centuries, including Byrd, Tallis and Purcell. Joe is also researching the remarkable African-Portuguese composer of choral works Vicente Lusitano, born in the 1520s. Plus, the joys (and perils) of keyboard skills, improvising in an ensemble, the influence of Purcell on Benjamin Britten, and as usual the listening choices of both our contributors.

This week, Lucy is joined by soprano Samantha Crawford and pianist Lana Bode to talk about their new collaborative project dream.risk.sing: elevating women's voices.

Soprano Samantha Crawford and pianist Lana Bode have been collaborating on a remarkable project: dream.risk.sing. Their forthcoming recital and CD (with Delphian Records) focusses on women's voices. It is a programme of music mainly by female composers, and of texts by women (the project is supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England). The CD will include a newly-commissioned set of songs by Charlotte Bray, setting texts by Nicki Jackowska, and the project as a whole aims to tell stories from all aspects of women's lives, from motherhood to the workplace to the legacies passed down the generations. Tune in to hear more about this exciting new project, the inspiration behind it, and the huge potential to explore further women's stories in song. Plus, as usual, some terrific songs for our Podcast playlist.

For the first of two podcasts about premieres in our 'Summer at Snape' season, Lucy Walker talks to composer Tansy Davies about her new work 'Monolith: I Extend My Arms', commissioned by Britten Pears Arts.

Tansy Davies' new piece for string orchestra and percussion, 'Monolith: I Extend My Arms' will be premiered at Snape Maltings on 26 June 2021 (a Britten Pears Arts commission). Tune in for a conversation about this piece, and about other fascinating compositions - including Tansy's operas 'Between Worlds' and 'Cave', and the horn piece 'Yoik'.

Plus, some brilliant additions to our Podcast Playlist, and some further choices from Tansy: Frank Denyer, 'The Fish That Became The Sun' and her own 'The rule is love'.

Following the performances of BEAM: Everybody Can Stand in their Own Light at Snape Maltings, Lucy Walker caught up with some of the team that put this wonderful show together.

Tune in for a fascinating conversation about the background, creation, and ethos of the multi-media music piece BEAM: Everybody Can Stand in their Own Light. The remarkable creative team behind this work (Nadine Benjamin, lead artists/co-dramaturg, Darren Abrahams, co-dramaturg and trauma specialist, and Claire Shovelton, senior producer and photographer) have a background not only in music but in psychology, the treatment of trauma, and Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP). The podcast explores the powerful effect of music in myriad ways, including the treatment of trauma. The team also discuss their aspirations regarding new ways of collaborative working.

Plus, some contributions to our podcast playlist, plus two excerpts from BEAM - 'E strano' from Verdi's La Traviata (recording from Nadine's 'Love and Prayer' album), and 'Champagne Queen'. Full credits here

James Thornton is an environmental lawyer and CEO of ClientEarth, an organisation dedicated to global environmental change through legal process, literally advocating for their 'client' the earth. James is also a music-lover, with a great interest in the music of Britten; and a Buddhist: drawn to the interconnectedness of things in the universe, and how such connections can effect great change.

Tune in for a remarkable conversation about the environment, music, Britten's home town of Lowestoft, the fascinating and valuable relationships between musicians and environmental causes, and how music of all kinds can deeply affect the emotions.

Hannah Fiddy is the co-founder (with Hanna Grzeskiewicz) of Alternative Classical - an organisation which aims to attract new audiences to classical music through a brilliantly creative mix of live and virtual projects.

Tune in to find out how Alternative Classical engages with new listeners, how to explore an exciting range of classical music performances, and how to play Concert Roulette! Plus, as usual there are some excellent additions to the podcast playlist.

Sculptor Hannah Honeywill has been on a Creative Retreat in collaboration with Britten Pears Arts and The Royal Society of Sculptors. She has been working on a project inspired by the relationship between Britten and Pears, and the fact that they had to keep it hidden for most of their lives.

Tune in to hear more about Hannah's work, how she has been inspired by Britten's music, how the life and work of both Britten and Pears can still be sensed at The Red House, and what a Creative Retreat in the grounds of their former home has meant to her. Plus, further additions to the podcast playlist - four brilliant tracks that are all about couples.

Explore more about Hannah's Creative Retreat here

Soprano Elise Caluwaerts has a wide and varied career as a singer, and has been involved in several fascinating creative projects during the recent lockdowns. She is also planning a project based around the songs of Alma Mahler in 2022.

Tune in to the final podcast of Season 3 (recorded in June 2021) to hear about Alma Mahler's work, the potent combination of opera, film and fashion house (a link to the film Elise discusses can be found here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NhgwmZQVgJE), and the power of song to connect people in isolation. Plus, some beautiful tracks for the podcast playlist.

In this special edition, musician and expert on choral music Joe McHardy joins Dr Lucy Walker for a lively and wide-ranging conversation about the life and times of composers William Byrd and Thomas Weelkes, including some stunning extracts from Byrd’s music.

In 2023 we mark the 400th anniversary of the deaths of two composers who wrote beautiful music, and who lived in extraordinary times. William Byrd (c.1540-1623) lived through a remarkably turbulent period of history, under no fewer than six monarchs. He wrote a huge amount of exquisite choral works, including Catholic masses which – depending who was on the throne – would only have been performed under conditions of secrecy. Thomas Weelkes (1576-1623) was an organist and composer, best-known for his brilliant and vivid madrigals (as well as for his somewhat chaotic lifestyle).


Opening and ending: ‘Kyrie’ and ‘Agnus Dei’ from Byrd’s Mass for Four Voices. Performed by the Marian Consort, conducted by Rory McCleery from the album Singing in Secret (Delphian, 2020).

During the podcast: Byrd’s ‘Ave verum corpus’. Performed by the Choir of Merton College, Oxford conducted by Peter Philips from the album Viri Galilaei: Favourite Anthems from Merton (Delphian, 2016).

With grateful thanks to Delphian for giving us permission to use these recordings.

Dr Lucy Walker explores the importance of song and singing in Benjamin Britten’s life and work. In this month’s podcast we celebrate the fascinating subject of song and singing.

We start with Benjamin Britten, and his lifelong attachment to song – inspired to explore it in multiple ways by his partner Peter Pears’ voice, by poetry, and by the occasion he was composing for. Following his example, Britten Pears Arts has song at the very centre of its work. Lucy is joined by Dr Chris Hilton (Head of Archive and Library) and Caro Barnfield (Head of Music Programme) who discuss how song manifests in the continuing work of the organisation, from teasing out stories in the archive collections, to featuring strongly in the Britten Pears Young Artist Programme, to performances on the stage, and to serving the wider community. Lucy speaks to two further guests who have directly benefited from the remarkable song legacy of Britten Pears Arts, composer Arthur Keegan and mezzo-soprano Lotte Betts Dean. They are working together on a project based around the poetry of Thomas Hardy, a writer whose words have been passed from composer to composer over the last 100 years, continuing to find their way into song. The music extracts are performed by Lotte Betts Dean, James Girling and the Ligeti Quartet.

Lucy Walker looks back at the remarkable history of the Friday Afternoons project: from its origins as a set of school songs by Britten in the 1930s, to its international launchpad in Britten's centenary year, to its current incarnation, and to where the project goes next.

Lucy is joined by two of this year's composers - Roderick Williams and Kerry Andrew - and by Sophia Allen, our Head of Community. Tune in to find out how the Friday Afternoons songs - past and present - have reached thousands of schoolchildren, and inspired creative artists of all kind.

The music in this podcast comprises:
Three songs from Britten's Friday Afternoons ('Begone Dull Care,' 'New Year Carol' and 'Cuckoo!'), published by Boosey & Hawkes.

'Rice and beans - and plantain too' by Errollyn Wallen
'Cells' by Russell Hepplewhite
'Mosaic' by Roderick Williams
'Individuality' by Kerry Andrew

All tracks are from the Friday Afternoons hub on our website.