" COMPANY OF HEAVEN" A Moral From The Proms
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Mr. Ellis Roberts' programme for the Feast of Se Michael was something to be thankful for; which is not saying that it was as good as it might have been. Radio has come too late into the world to be used in the service of religion, as the drama was used in the middle ages, to teach the poor and the unlettered.
When the great feasts of the Church come round, it is fitting that they should be honoured in this vast auditorium before the diverse and uncountable audience that radio commands. But there you get the difference between the way the monks would have devised a Michaelmas programme and the way Mr. Ellis Roberts devised it.
It is precisely the diversity and size of the audience the monks would have remembered. They would have written for the poorest and the least lettered. They would have had in their mind's eye the working-class family with the cheap set in the small kitchen. Me Ellis Roberts had in mind rather the cultured and the wellto-do, who would be listening in comfort and a Cathedral hush.
It was not a popular programme. The music was clever and pretentious; against the simplicity and dignity of the text it made a continuous discord; and not one word of anything that was sung could be caught.
Still, "Company of Heaven had moments of considerable beauty. It was a salute to a great Feast. For such we can only be grateful.
Youth Makes Discoveries
The Prorns have come and gone, leaving surely a moral behind them. The moral forces itself more upon the man listening calmly at a distance, perhaps, than upon those who listen at close quarters in the emotional arena of the Queen's Hall. Be can take a detached view of the audience, for he is not strictly one of them; and it is with the audience that the moral lies.
It is a representative audience of the average men and women of today; it is not specially " musical," it is certainly not critical, as a music-critic would define the term; and its exuberanc-o shows that it is largely youth—youth in the discovery stage.
Those frenzies of applause, that seem 10 be going to shatter the delicate machinery of one's loud-speaker: who but a curmudgeon would get up and switch them off? For the lesson of that applause is that youth today is not attracted only by what is crooked and anarchic.
We thought, for instance, that those aid forgotten choruses of Handel were dead and gone, that we should never hear them again. They were revived at the Proms this year, only to sweep a jazz-ridden audience off its feet. What a popular audience gets at Proms is what a popular audience really wants. The B.B.C. should boar this in mind in its music policy and its programme planning. That, is the moral of the Proms.
The Air Thriller I warned you to look out for Captain Gurdon's " thriller," "The Peaslitice Crash," and I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. I think, however, that Mr. Lance Seiveking produced it with less than his usual genius. here should have been no punctuation; it should have been breathless—like the story.
A pause during a radio play is as eloquent as any sound, and it must mean something; in this case it was a mere stoppage, serving only to break the action into pieces. Also,! he monkeyed with Captain Gurdon's very astute and accurate charac terisation. Thus Cecil, a loveable and coltish lad, was credited, in one scene, with emotions he could never have entertained and were those of a young cad.
But Mr. Seiveking was at his best with the aeropla les. The trouble with these plays is how to make aeroplane noises sound anything like the real thing. He introduced music as an accompaniment to the usu41 "effects," and the result was a stylised representation of what was supposed to be happening in the air that was not only convincing but very dramatic.
Pleasures in Prospect Here are one or two things to look forward to. me. Desmond McCarthy's return to the microphone,on December 9—a long Way off, I know. The book talks this autumn are to be of two types: talks proper and discussions. The first talk will be on October 14, by Sir Ronald Storrs on Laurence's Seven Pillars of Wisdom and other books about the Near East; the first discussion is On November 11 between Mr. Hugh Walpole and Mr. Thompson, who is a book-binder by trade and also an author.
A feature programme on the history of Hampstead Heath is down for November 6.
The heath is full of history. It was at the " Spaniards" Inn, for instance, that the Gordon rioters decided to sack Kenwood House, then owned and occupied by a Catholic poen the Earl of Mansfield, and were dissuaded from that enterprise by the beer liberalisssupplied to them by the landlord, whose :sympathies appear to have been Catholic; for he charged them nothing for the beer. These feature programmes I think, are always worth listening to, and the wealth of materiat should make this a particularly good one.
The Church's Music
The plainsong recital by the monks of Downside Abbey on Wednesday last was the first of a series of. programmes, under the title " Music of the Church," designed to show the development of Church music from plainsong " through Byrd, Weellces and Morley to the modern Cathedral Evensong."
Contrary to anticipations it was not relayed on either the London Regional or National wavelengths, and could be heard only by listeners who can get the West Regional programmes.
Another series, "Music of the Church," begins again on October 29 with a programme devoted to the choral works of Purcell. Arne and Wesley.
One would have thought that either of these series would have provided a frame
for some examples at least of the great baroque school of Church music for which we have been asking for so long. But no; the B.B.C. seems to have set its face against it, and whatever the B.B.C. sets its face against, whether it be the masses of Mozart or the talks of Fr. Martindale, it is waste a breath to ask for.
In Charity's Cause
The Royal Command variety performance in aid of the Variety Artists Benevolent Fund on November 15 is to be relayed in full this year, the B.B.C. paying £1,000 for the privilege. No doubt this accords with the desire of a certain number of
listeners. In 1935, when the price demanded was £750, the theatres and the cinemas put up the stern to prevent it., because, they say, the broadcast empties their
theatres. The charity is a most worthy one; but is the B.B.C. going to see the price go up every year, and will it have to pay it in order to ingratiate itself with a minority audience?
I would draw your attention to two items next week: the National Lecture on Wednesday, which will be given by Mr. Granville Barker on Shakespeare, and the broadcast of Mr. James Bridie's play, "The Anatomist," on Sunday.