Midnight in the garden

Posted on August 19, 2020

Lockdown has its compensations, and one of them has been a dramatic increase in the amount I listen to BBC Radio 3. There are many excellent presenters, including Sarah Walker, Ian Skelly, Hannah French, Kate Mollison, Sara Mohr-Pietch and best of all, her fellow presenter on ‘Night Tracks’,  Hannah Peel.  Their show runs from 11 pm, crossing the boundary between one day and the next. Not untypical of Peel’s selections will be a collaboration between some traditional Welsh performers and instrumentalists from Mali.

Last night she hosted a special immersive sound track devoted to the music of plants in a show entitled ‘Midnight in the Garden’, and what magic it was.

From evocations of gardens and growing, to music played on vegetables by the The Vegetable Orchestra, or created by spider plants, it was all there; Puccini to Radiohead, JS Bach to David Bowie, experimental electronic paens to the plant world with Stevie Wonder’s ‘Journey through the secret life of plants’ and electronic pioneer Mort Garson’s ‘Mother Earth’s phantasia’. But it was the plants themselves that stole the show. Listening in on the biochemistry of a singing snake plant, or delving into the sounds beneath the bark of a horse chestnut tree in Alex Metcalf’s ‘Horse chestnut’, is surely the way to be transported to another world as the darkness enfolds us, the sounds of the day hush, and the magic of the starlit universe creeps up on our consciousness.

‘Midnight in the Garden’ is available on BBC Sounds until  17 September 2020.

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