Live magazine programme on the worlds of arts, literature, film, media and music
Crime writer Martina Cole has been awarded the Crime Writers' Assocation Diamond Dagger
As she is awarded one of British crime writing’s top accolades, the Crime Writers’ Association Diamond Dagger, Samira talks to crime novelist Martina Cole. Hailed as the Queen of Crime Drama, Cole has written 25 novels and sold 10 million books since records began but her work is rarely reviewed - so what’s her secret?
Under the road map unveiled by Boris Johnson on Monday public museums and galleries in England will be allowed to reopen no earlier than 17 May, along with other indoor venues such as cinemas and soft play areas, whilst commercial galleries, public libraries, community centres and gyms are allowed to open from 12 April. Sharon Heal, director of the Museums Association talks to Samira Ahmed about the impact the continued classification of museums as "indoor entertainment venues" will have on the sector and whether there might be a shift on behalf of the government.
Folk musician Sam Lee has collaborated with English Heritage on a project called Songs of England, a series of online films of sites from Stonehenge and Tintagel to Hadrian’s Wall and Whitby Abbey accompanied by traditional folksongs performed by members of Sam’s Nest Collective. He talks about the connection between music and location and sings John Barleycorn especially for Front Row. Sam also tells Samira about his fascination with the nightingale which he has turned into a compendium of ornithology, verse, legends and illustration and his plans for open-air concerts where nightingales will sing with the musicians.
Presenter: Samira Ahmed
Producer: Timothy Prosser
SM: John Boland
Keats, Bonnie Tyler, Museums and contested heritage
John Keats was just 25 when he died in Rome 200 years ago. To mark the anniversary The Poetry Society has commissioned new work from award-winning contemporary poets responding to Keats’s work, and two of them – Rachael Boast and Will Harris – join us to share their poems and discuss why Keats is still important to contemporary writers 200 hundred years after his death.
“The Best Is Yet To Come” is Welsh singer Bonnie Tyler’s 18th studio album. Pushed back by the pandemic, it’s a return to the bombastic full-figured 80s sound that characterised Total Eclipse of the Heart and some of her other greatest hits. At the age of 69, does the rock veteran feel like the best is yet to come?
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden summoned 25 heads of England's Museums and heritage organisations to a summit today to discuss the issue of contested history and the government policy of "retain and explain". Duncan Wilson, Chief Exec of Historic England, reports on the meeting.
Presenter: Kirsty Lang
Producer: Hilary Dunn
Studio Manager: Duncan Hannant
Huw Stephens on The Story of Welsh Art, Prequels, reaction to the covid roadmap
As the Prime Minister sets out his roadmap to ending the Covid lockdown we get reaction from Dominique Frazer, Founder of the Boileroom, a music venue in Guildford, and Hamish Moseley, Managing Director of an independent film distribution company Altitude Film Entertainment, and ask if this offers them enough information to start to plan for the year ahead.
Radio Wales DJ Huw Stephens discusses is three part documentary, The Story of Welsh Art, which looks as visual art in the country more associated with poets and singers.
As Nick, a prequel to The Great Gatsby is published, we speak to it's author Michael Farris Smith on why the rather retiring character Nick Carraway deserved a backstory and Professor of Literature Diane Roberts joins to discuss the appeal of the genre.
Presenter: Tom Sutcliffe
Producer: Simon Richardson
Main Image: Huw Stephens holding a painting by Richard Wilson called Snowdon from Llyn Nantlle.
The Color Purple, Niven Govinden, U-Roy remembered, John Barber
Leicester Curve’s recent award-winning revival of the musical The Color Purple, based on Alice Walker’s novel, has been reimagined, filmed and is being streamed for audiences. Dreda Say Mitchell and David Benedict review.
David Rodigan joins us to celebrate the life of the great Jamaican musician U-Roy, who died recently. He was a master of the toasting mic style – the precursor of rapping, MC-ing and freestyling.
Niven Govinden studied film before becoming an award-winning writer. In his sixth novel Diary of a Film his cinematic knowledge is filtered through the lens of creative anxiety, queer desire, and European city walking. In it, an auteur and his lead actors arrive at a prestigious film festival to premiere his latest film. Alone one morning at a backstreet cafe, he strikes up a conversation with a local woman who takes him on a walk to uncover the city's secrets, historic and personal. A story of love and tragedy emerges, and he begins to see the chance meeting as fate.
Every year the Arts Foundation makes awards of £10,000 to assist artists with living and working costs - helping them to carry on creating. All five of the 2021 winners are talking about their work on Front Row. The fourth is John Barber, Arts Foundation Fellow for Choral Composition. He tells John Wilson about the range of his music making, from a retelling of the Persephone myth for 1500 voices, 10 years running Woven Gold, a choir made up of refugees and asylum seekers and professional musicians, to pieces for small choirs such at The Sixteen. So much choral music is rooted in religious texts and liturgy. But Barber is not religious and he explains his concern with composing music for voices from a secular perspective.
Presenter: John Wilson
Producer: Julian May
Studio Manager: Donald MacDonald
Wagner's Ring, Bloodlands, Victor Ambrus, Jessie Brennan
Dame Sarah Connolly sings the role of the goddess Fricka in the Royal Opera House's production of Wagner's The Ring Cycle, currently being broadcast on BBC Radio 3. She discusses the challenge of performing this 15 hour operatic epic.
Chris Brandon on writing the new BBC crime drama series Bloodlands - which stars James Nesbitt as a detective - is exec produced by Jed Mercurio (Line of Duty and Bodyguard), and which draws on Brandon's own upbringing in Northern Ireland.
Visual artist Jessie Brennan presents our latest #FrontRowGetCreative challenge: today it's "blind drawing", which invites us to take a more intimate view of a person or object. You'll need the help of someone you're bubbling with, or you could draw a pet or object.
We pay tribute to the artist Victor Ambrus, who has died at the age of 85. A refugee from Hungary, Ambrus became known for his illustrations of children's books - folktales, history and animal stories - and for his appearances on the TV show Time Team. His powerful images of battles were influenced by his own experience of the Hungarian Uprising.
Presenter: Samira Ahmed
Producer: Oliver Jones
K-Pop and the South Korean music industry, poet Kate Fox, touring shows in Europe post Brexit
Is listening to K-Pop like buying sweatshop-made clothes? From rigorous childhood performance academies to long, labour-intensive contracts for young idols, does the South Korean music industry have an exploitation problem? High profile suicides, sexual harassment claims and industry standards are complicating the nature of the industry and the fandom as it booms in the English speaking world. Musicologist Haekyung Um and journalist Taylor Glasby weigh in.
Poet Kate Fox talks about her new collection The Oscillations, exploring distance and isolation in the age of the pandemic, refracted through the lenses of neurodiversity and trauma in poems that are bold, funny and open-hearted in their self-discoveries.
Artistic Director of Bristol Old Vic Tom Morris and Matt Hemley from The Stage discuss the viability of touring UK stage shows in Europe post Brexit as the National Theatre announce today that their planned European tour of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time will not go ahead.
Presenter: Kirsty Lang
Producer: Hilary Dunn
Main image: The K-pop girl group BlackPink on stage
Image credit: Rich Fury/Getty Images
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My day is not complete without Front Row.. I especially enjoy listening to Samira Ahmed. Such a beautiful voice.