Guests from the worlds of film, books, dance, comedy and fashion as well as firefighters, taxi drivers and teachers share cherished musical memories and remind us that extraordinary things can happen when we simply stop and listen.
This week you can hear from jazz trumpeter and composer Wynton Marsalis, opera singer J'Nai Bridges and comedian Eddie Izzard in The Open Ears Project daily at 10am during The Works with Nick Tipping on RNZ Concert, or here, now:
Broadcast on RNZ Concert, 10am Monday 4 November 2020
Writer Robert Macfarlane reflects on the fragility and beauty of Frederic Chopin's Berceuse in a time of war.
“In a scene of such brutality, to have something of such delicacy must have been a quiet kind of miracle.”
Robert Macfarlane remembers how he first read about Chopin’s Berceuse in the wartime diaries of Welsh poet Edward Thomas, whose nature writing inspired Macfarlane’s own.
Thomas, who died in 1917 on the Western Front, chronicled how he and his fellow soldiers found moments of peace in music — including this lullaby, which helped them find sleep on what would be their final night.
Broadcast on RNZ Concert, 10am Tuesday 5 November 2020
Army reservist Joe Young talks about how Steve Reich's music helped him find his path in life.
“Not only did it change how I listen to music. It absolutely changed how I listen to people.”
When Joe Young, army reservist and New York Public Radio receptionist, was stationed in Texas, part of his job in the army band was to play the 'Taps' bugle call for soldiers who didn’t return from deployment.
The experience left him facing a crisis of confidence, until he came across Steve Reich’s Music for 18 Musicians which gave him a new perspective on how to listen to more than just the music.
Broadcast on RNZ Concert, 10am Wednesday 6 November 2020
Opera singer J'Nai Bridges discusses what she learned about forgiveness and memory from Henry Purcell's heartbreaking "Dido's Lament".
“I think I've learned to not take things so personally through this piece of music.”
Mezzo-soprano J’Nai Bridges discusses the song 'When I am laid in earth', also known as 'Dido’s Lament'. It’s a stunning aria from Henry Purcell’s opera Dido and Aeneas in which Dido laments over her broken heart after her lover, the Trojan war hero Aeneas, abandons her.
The song gave Bridges insight into the nature of memory and respect that she’s taken to heart, and illustrates one of the many powerful lessons opera can teach us all.
Broadcast on RNZ Concert, 10am Thursday 7 November 2020
Comedian and actor Eddie Izzard talks about how Debussy’s Clair de Lune removes him from the noise of everyday life.
“It actually takes you off the ground. You are floating in the clouds, which doesn't make logical sense, but that's what it feels like.”
Eddie Izzard talks about Claude Debussy’s Clair de Lune, and how its emotional pulse takes him outside the flow of metronomic time and into the deep connections he feels with his family and audience.
Broadcast on RNZ Concert, 10am Friday 8 November 2020
Instagram’s Eva Chen talks about how Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 17 helps her switch gears to work on her series of children’s books.
“The best children's books have this moment of ‘Why am I here? What am I doing?’ ... And I feel that in this music.”
Eva talks about how, each evening after finishing her day job at Instagram and spending time with her two young children, she resets by putting on the first movement of Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 17.
The piece’s emotional transitions help put her into the mindset of Juno Valentine, the heroine of her children’s book series.
Broadcast on RNZ Concert, 10am Saturday 9 November 2020
Jazz trumpeter and composer Wynton Marsalis discusses how Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 16 helped him understand the role of music in connecting the past and the future.
“There [are] so many emotions in the piece, and so many states of consciousness — there's not one thing. There's an intensity of relationships that unfold over time.”
Wynton Marsalis talks about how Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 16 helped him understand the role of music — and the musician — in connecting the past and the future.
Beyond his technical achievements, Marsalis relates with Beethoven’s ability to unflinchingly investigate and combine conflicting emotions and states of consciousness to create art that unfolds in time.
Broadcast on RNZ Concert, 10am Sunday 10 November 2020
WQXR’s Editor-in-Chief Jacqui Cheng discovered Bach via the Atari 2600, but her emotional journey through the music began with his Violin Sonata No. 1.
“It’s a sad peacefulness that sometimes we all need. When we need to take a breath — just before starting something new.”
Her interest in Bach started with the soundtrack to the Atari 2600 game “Gyruss” (which included 8-bit snippets of Bach's Fugue in D Minor), and led her to the public library, where she found emotional comfort in Bach’s resolution of dissonances.
WQXR’s Jacqui Cheng talks about her journey in finding the Adagio movement from J.S. Bach’s Violin Sonata No. 1.