Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Baron Berkeley's anthology

From the current edition of the Radio Times, I learn that Private Passions has been going for twenty years now. There will be a celebratory highlights programme on the nineteenth of April, but I am particularly looking forward to next Sunday when Stephen Hawking's first wife, Jane, will be the guest.

In some ways, Michael Berkeley is a successor to Antony Hopkins, though the former has somewhat more renown as a composer. As he says in the RT interview, Private Passions "is a good access point to classical music for people who might not listen to a lot of Radio 3." In that respect, it would be at home on Radio 4, along with Soul Music and Tales from the Stave.

Michael Berkeley was appointed a life peer two years ago (he was introduced on the same day as Martha Lane Fox) because of his cultural connections, but he has been more than an adornment to the Lords. He has spoken against the restrictions on judicial review, in support of assisted dying, on domestic abuse and in particular against the barbarity of female genital mutilation, as well as on the role of music in the community.

His criticism of the second chamber strikes a chord:

The expertise is extraordinary, but the numbers are ridiculous. Peers who don't contribute to the debates or committees should be asked to leave. And there are still too many instances of 'cash for peerages'.

The whole article is worth reading.

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