Good vibrations or horrible wobbling? Why do singers use vibrato?
Tom Service goes to the wobbling heart of the matter of vibrato in singing. Why does it induce such visceral reactions - love and hate? Is it a matter of classical-singing artifice or is it a welcome and naturally occurring phenomenon in the healthy workings of our vocal chords, in the way our bodies make the sounds we call singing?
What Makes a Song?
Tom Service considers what makes a good song work - verse, chorus, a good tune and...? Is a pop song using fundamentally the same structure as an art song or Lied? From the timeless pop of The Carpenters to the gigantic "song-symphonies" of Gustav Mahler, Tom examines what you can do with a few verses, perhaps a chorus, and maybe a "middle eight". He's also joined by composer and pianist Richard Sisson to consider the genius of Robert Schumann's songcraft, and by producer Dan Carey who considers contrasting song structures by The Beach Boys and Frank Ocean.
The Nutcracker - Strange Enchantments
Think of The Nutcracker as a super-saccharine classic for the feel-good season? Think again.
Is everything really all sweetness and light in the world of sugar-plum fairy? No! But don't let the tale's dark undertones spoil your enjoyment of the wonderful music.
Tom Service tears the gaudy wrapping paper from Tchaikovsky's balletic masterpiece to remind us you don't always get what you want. Behind the tinsel and fluffy snowflakes lies a story imbued with darkness and death. But maybe that is the secret of its unfading allure and beauty.
Tom is joined by Marina Frolova-Walker and Peggy Reynolds to crack the most popular nut in the repertoire.
The bells, the bells...
Tom Service on the mystery, magic and music associated with bells
For thousands of years human life has been accompanied by the sound of bells - calls to prayer, driving away evil spirits, marking the hours and seasons of life - births, marriages, deaths, alarm bells, peace bells, sleigh bells and Christmas bells. Tom looks at the meaning and magic of the sound of bells, and listens to the interpretations and reverberations of bells in music.
Concertos: All for one and one for all?
With the help of violinist Pekka Kuusisto Tom Service explores the concerto from Vivaldi in the early 18th century to today's composers. How has the idea of the concerto evolved over three centuries and what are the challenges for the soloist, walking the tightrope of virtuosity, sandwiched between orchestral colleagues and expectant audience?
David Papp (producer)