22 Feb 2008

The Open University brings Sacred Music to BBC FOUR this Easter

St Denis Basilisque in Paris

St Denis Basilisque in Paris

The Open University and BBC FOUR join forces for a rich visual and musical journey through the history of 600 years of European Sacred Music from its roots in 12th Century Paris through to the immortal works of Johann Sebastian Bach.

Presented by Simon Russell Beale, the Olivier Award-winning actor and singer, Sacred Music marries the best of fascinating historical documentary with recorded musical performance by conductor Harry Christophers and his world-famous choir, The Sixteen, in some of Europe’s most beautiful locations.

The series begins at St Paul’s Cathedral in London where Simon was a chorister and journeys to Paris, Rome and Leipzig charting the political, social and musical developments of the time.

Simon Russell Beale and Harry Christophers

Simon Russell Beale and Harry Christophers

There is also a one-off 90-minute concert of music from the series which will broadcast on BBC FOUR on Easter Sunday.

Simon Russell Beale said: “I had a wonderful time making this series, travelling to extraordinary places, meeting fascinating people and above all listening to some of the most beautiful music ever written.

“The history of Sacred Music is an intriguing story and I hope the programmes will be a feast for both ear and eye.”

Richard Langham Smith, head of music at The Open University and academic consultant for the series said: “I think that one of the things that Sacred Music does so well is to highlight the wonderful parallels between music and architecture.

“Goethe said that ‘architecture is frozen music’, and that is the basis for the whole series. Much of this music is relatively unknown, and can be quite abstruse, but the programmes do a great job of illuminating it.”

As well as London, the series also visits Dover, Waltham Abbey, the Cathedrals of Winchester, Lincoln and Canterbury, Stondon Massey in Essex where Simon visits the parish church of St Peter & St Paul, Ingatestone Manor and Harlington in Middlesex which features the parish church of St Peter.

Open2.net, The Open University’s supporting website, has pieces of music from the series accompanied by expert commentary along with further programme information and summaries.

The information will be available from the week before the programme is broadcast.

Editor’s Notes
Sacred Music is an Open University/BBC Classical Music TV co-production for BBC FOUR.

The series will be broadcast on Friday evenings from Friday March 21 for four weeks on BBC FOUR. Check media for times.

The accompanying concert will broadcast on BBC FOUR on Sunday March 23.

Executive Producer for the BBC is Peter Maniura. Helen Mansfield is Series Producer for the BBC. Executive Producer for The Open University is Catherine McCarthy. The Academic Consultant for The Open University is Richard Langham Smith.

The Open University and BBC have been in partnership for more than 30 years, providing educational programming to a mass audience. In recent times this partnership has evolved from late night programming for delivering courses to peak time programmes with a broad appeal to encourage wider participation in learning.

All broadcast information is correct at time of issue.

For Preview DVDs and Publicity stills please contact Guy Bailey or Victoria Bevan

Related Courses and programmes from The Open University:-

- A214 An Introduction to Music
- AA317 Words and music
- A179 Start listening to music
- AA100 The Arts: past and present

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