Episodes

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Suppression and Survival2019042520190609 (R4)

Singer and song collector Sam Lee travels to Tbilisi to explore the ancient polyphonic folk songs and sacred chants of Georgia. He discovers a nation where singing is in the blood.

With some of Georgia's finest singers and musicologists as his guides, Sam is introduced to the ritualistic folk songs that are said to the control the weather and even cure the sick. He is invited to a feast, high on a mountainside above Tbilisi, where he meets the Chamgelianis - a singing family from the remote region of Svaneti who are keeping the tradition of age-old pre-Christian folk songs alive.

At the beautiful Kashveti Church in the heart of Tbilisi, Sam meets singer and ethno-musicologist John Graham who introduces him to the liturgical chanting tradition. These orthodox Christian chants feature sacrosanct melodies that are said to have been passed down by God and transmitted orally over the centuries.

Bordered by powerful neighbours including Russia and Turkey, Georgia has been attacked and invaded persistently over the centuries, its traditional songs suppressed. Sam learns that, under Soviet rule, sacred chanting was banned in Georgia and chanters threatened with exile and even death. Practitioners were forced to go underground from the early 1920s.

The tradition might have died out entirely were it not for the efforts of a single monk who buried manuscripts containing the forbidden sacred songs in order to keep them safe. Many years later, following the end of the Soviet stranglehold, the buried manuscripts were rediscovered and became the backbone of a chant revival that has seen Georgian singing spread around the world.

Presenter: Sam Lee
Producer: Max O'Brien
A TBI production for BBC Radio 4

Singer Sam Lee explores the ancient folk songs and sacred chants of Georgia.

Sam Lee celebrates the song collectors who have fought to save folk music from extinction.

Suppression and Survival2019042520190609 (R4)

Singer and song collector Sam Lee travels to Tbilisi to explore the ancient polyphonic folk songs and sacred chants of Georgia. He discovers a nation where singing is in the blood.

With some of Georgia's finest singers and musicologists as his guides, Sam is introduced to the ritualistic folk songs that are said to the control the weather and even cure the sick. He is invited to a feast, high on a mountainside above Tbilisi, where he meets the Chamgelianis - a singing family from the remote region of Svaneti who are keeping the tradition of age-old pre-Christian folk songs alive.

At the beautiful Kashveti Church in the heart of Tbilisi, Sam meets singer and ethno-musicologist John Graham who introduces him to the liturgical chanting tradition. These orthodox Christian chants feature sacrosanct melodies that are said to have been passed down by God and transmitted orally over the centuries.

Bordered by powerful neighbours including Russia and Turkey, Georgia has been attacked and invaded persistently over the centuries, its traditional songs suppressed. Sam learns that, under Soviet rule, sacred chanting was banned in Georgia and chanters threatened with exile and even death. Practitioners were forced to go underground from the early 1920s.

The tradition might have died out entirely were it not for the efforts of a single monk who buried manuscripts containing the forbidden sacred songs in order to keep them safe. Many years later, following the end of the Soviet stranglehold, the buried manuscripts were rediscovered and became the backbone of a chant revival that has seen Georgian singing spread around the world.

Presenter: Sam Lee
Producer: Max O'Brien
A TBI production for BBC Radio 4

Singer Sam Lee explores the ancient folk songs and sacred chants of Georgia.

Sam Lee celebrates the song collectors who have fought to save folk music from extinction.

Sam Lee celebrates the song collectors who have fought to save folk music from extinction.

Singer and song collector Sam Lee travels to Tbilisi to explore the ancient polyphonic folk songs and sacred chants of Georgia. He discovers a nation where singing is in the blood.

With some of Georgia's finest singers and musicologists as his guides, Sam is introduced to the ritualistic folk songs that are said to the control the weather and even cure the sick. He is invited to a feast, high on a mountainside above Tbilisi, where he meets the Chamgelianis - a singing family from the remote region of Svaneti who are keeping the tradition of age-old pre-Christian folk songs alive.

At the beautiful Kashveti Church in the heart of Tbilisi, Sam meets singer and ethno-musicologist John Graham who introduces him to the liturgical chanting tradition. These orthodox Christian chants feature sacrosanct melodies that are said to have been passed down by God and transmitted orally over the centuries.

Bordered by powerful neighbours including Russia and Turkey, Georgia has been attacked and invaded persistently over the centuries, its traditional songs suppressed. Sam learns that, under Soviet rule, sacred chanting was banned in Georgia and chanters threatened with exile and even death. Practitioners were forced to go underground from the early 1920s.

The tradition might have died out entirely were it not for the efforts of a single monk who buried manuscripts containing the forbidden sacred songs in order to keep them safe. Many years later, following the end of the Soviet stranglehold, the buried manuscripts were rediscovered and became the backbone of a chant revival that has seen Georgian singing spread around the world.

Presenter: Sam Lee
Producer: Max O'Brien
A TBI production for BBC Radio 4

Singer Sam Lee explores the ancient folk songs and sacred chants of Georgia.

Sam Lee celebrates the song collectors who have fought to save folk music from extinction.

Singer and song collector Sam Lee travels to Tbilisi to explore the ancient polyphonic folk songs and sacred chants of Georgia. He discovers a nation where singing is in the blood.

With some of Georgia's finest singers and musicologists as his guides, Sam is introduced to the ritualistic folk songs that are said to the control the weather and even cure the sick. He is invited to a feast, high on a mountainside above Tbilisi, where he meets the Chamgelianis - a singing family from the remote region of Svaneti who are keeping the tradition of age-old pre-Christian folk songs alive.

At the beautiful Kashveti Church in the heart of Tbilisi, Sam meets singer and ethno-musicologist John Graham who introduces him to the liturgical chanting tradition. These orthodox Christian chants feature sacrosanct melodies that are said to have been passed down by God and transmitted orally over the centuries.

Bordered by powerful neighbours including Russia and Turkey, Georgia has been attacked and invaded persistently over the centuries, its traditional songs suppressed. Sam learns that, under Soviet rule, sacred chanting was banned in Georgia and chanters threatened with exile and even death. Practitioners were forced to go underground from the early 1920s.

The tradition might have died out entirely were it not for the efforts of a single monk who buried manuscripts containing the forbidden sacred songs in order to keep them safe. Many years later, following the end of the Soviet stranglehold, the buried manuscripts were rediscovered and became the backbone of a chant revival that has seen Georgian singing spread around the world.

Presenter: Sam Lee
Producer: Max O'Brien
A TBI production for BBC Radio 4

Singer Sam Lee explores the ancient folk songs and sacred chants of Georgia.

Sam Lee celebrates the song collectors who have fought to save folk music from extinction.

The Black Mountains' Lament2019050220190616 (R4)

Singer and song collector Sam Lee travels to the remote mountains of Greece and discovers the haunting sound of Europe's oldest folk music.

High in the black mountains of Epirus, close to the northwestern tip of Greece, winding its way through the thick forest, is the river Acheron, the river of woe. According to Greek mythology, the newly dead must travel across this river before entering Hades - the underworld.

An otherworldly music pours from these mountains. It's an ancient music. Filled with sadness. Filled with longing. Filled with dread.

Sam journeys to Epirus, an unforgiving mountain range housing 46 tiny villages, each with its own distinct style of folk music. The nature of the harsh terrain means that the ancient musical tradition of these villages is remarkably well preserved - an intoxicating blend of violin and clarinet dancing between wild frenzy and hypnotic solemnity.

Speaking to writer, record producer and song collector Chris King, whose book A Lament From Epirus first brought the strange music of this region to a wider audience, Sam hears about the riotous festivals in Epirus when musicians play around the clock for three days straight while entire villages come together to dance.

Sam discovers that the sadness saturating the music of Epirus is often attributed to "xenitia", the pain and longing caused by the separation of emigration. In a region plagued by dwindling population as people abandon traditional village life for jobs in urban centres, the sadness of the music looks set only to intensify.

Presenter: Sam Lee
Producer: Max O'Brien
A TBI production for BBC Radio 4

Sam Lee travels to remote mountains of Greece and discovers Europe's oldest folk music.

Sam Lee celebrates the song collectors who have fought to save folk music from extinction.

The Black Mountains' Lament20190502

Singer and song collector Sam Lee travels to the remote mountains of Greece and discovers the haunting sound of Europe's oldest folk music.

High in the black mountains of Epirus, close to the northwestern tip of Greece, winding its way through the thick forest, is the river Acheron, the river of woe. According to Greek mythology, the newly dead must travel across this river before entering Hades - the underworld.

An otherworldly music pours from these mountains. It's an ancient music. Filled with sadness. Filled with longing. Filled with dread.

Sam journeys to Epirus, an unforgiving mountain range housing 46 tiny villages, each with its own distinct style of folk music. The nature of the harsh terrain means that the ancient musical tradition of these villages is remarkably well preserved - an intoxicating blend of violin and clarinet dancing between wild frenzy and hypnotic solemnity.

Speaking to writer, record producer and song collector Chris King, whose book A Lament From Epirus first brought the strange music of this region to a wider audience, Sam hears about the riotous festivals in Epirus when musicians play around the clock for three days straight while entire villages come together to dance.

Sam discovers that the sadness saturating the music of Epirus is often attributed to "xenetia", the pain and longing caused by the separation of emigration. In a region plagued by dwindling population as people abandon traditional village life for jobs in urban centres, the sadness of the music looks set only to intensify.

Presenter: Sam Lee
Producer: Max O'Brien
A TBI production for BBC Radio 4

Sam Lee travels to remote mountains of Greece and discovers Europe's oldest folk music.

Sam Lee celebrates the song collectors who have fought to save folk music from extinction.

The Black Mountains' Lament20190502

Singer and song collector Sam Lee travels to the remote mountains of Greece and discovers the haunting sound of Europe's oldest folk music.

High in the black mountains of Epirus, close to the northwestern tip of Greece, winding its way through the thick forest, is the river Acheron, the river of woe. According to Greek mythology, the newly dead must travel across this river before entering Hades - the underworld.

An otherworldly music pours from these mountains. It's an ancient music. Filled with sadness. Filled with longing. Filled with dread.

Sam journeys to Epirus, an unforgiving mountain range housing 46 tiny villages, each with its own distinct style of folk music. The nature of the harsh terrain means that the ancient musical tradition of these villages is remarkably well preserved - an intoxicating blend of violin and clarinet dancing between wild frenzy and hypnotic solemnity.

Speaking to writer, record producer and song collector Chris King, whose book A Lament From Epirus first brought the strange music of this region to a wider audience, Sam hears about the riotous festivals in Epirus when musicians play around the clock for three days straight while entire villages come together to dance.

Sam discovers that the sadness saturating the music of Epirus is often attributed to "xenitia", the pain and longing caused by the separation of emigration. In a region plagued by dwindling population as people abandon traditional village life for jobs in urban centres, the sadness of the music looks set only to intensify.

Presenter: Sam Lee
Producer: Max O'Brien
A TBI production for BBC Radio 4

Sam Lee travels to remote mountains of Greece and discovers Europe's oldest folk music.

Sam Lee celebrates the song collectors who have fought to save folk music from extinction.