Imagine on this April Fool’s Day being invited onto Desert Island Discs, the BBC radio series in which each celebrity guest is asked to select eight pieces of music to take with them if they were marooned on a desert island, and also one book and one luxury item. My husband is currently listening to the archives of this program, which has been running ever since 1942, so we have been talking about our own choices. I would want mine to have an intrinsic beauty, to evoke some personal memories, and to represent a mix of moods and styles.
Having said this I could easily fill my whole program with the pieces I have been singing in church choirs over recent years, including traditional favourites like Mozart’s Laudate Dominum, Palestrina’s Sicut Cervus, Schubert’s Ave Maria, Franck’s Panis Angelicus, and Tallis’s Spem in Alium, also parts of more modern works like Philip Ledger’s Requiem and Rutter’s Magnificat.
Bach would be essential, whether the magnificent Toccata and Fugue in D minor, the soulful Double Violin Concerto, or one of the simpler short pieces which I’ve been trying to learn on the piano, such as the Allemande from Suite No 4 in E flat major, or the Aria from Goldberg Variations which might help me fall asleep while on the island. Some New Age music such as The Fairy Ring by Mike Rowland would be relaxing too.
And Elgar, to remind me of England and especially the beautiful Malvern area which has been significant in my life – Land of Hope and Glory would be a bracing choice.
Popular songs which resonate with events, dances and romances from younger days would include Both Sides Now sung by Judy Collins, Here, There and Everywhere by the Beatles, Only Yesterday by The Carpenters, Summer Nights by Marianne Faithfull, Thankyou for the Music by Abba, The Carnival is Over by The Seekers, Days by The Kinks, Eternal Flame by The Bangles, Smoke gets in your Eyes by the Platters … and many more.
My humourous selection would be When the Foe-man Bares His Steel from the Pirates of Penzance – I once sang in the chorus. And I would like an aria from Grand Opera sung by Enrico Caruso or Mario Lanza, the passions of my teenage years, and at least one piece from a musical such as Carousel, West Side Story, Cats or Les Miserables ….
It’s lucky that I’m not famous enough to be on Desert Island Discs, because reducing this list down to eight items would be quite impossible. And I don’t know what I’d choose for my book, nor for my luxury, considering that I couldn’t have my iPhone or computer – now that’s a dreadful thought.