And… it’s Radio 3’s flagship early evening programme, In Tune, with the very wonderful Sean Rafferty!
An invitation to be at the making of Radio 3’s iconic In Tune, which will be broadcast live from Goonhilly Earth Station, then meet presenter Sean Rafferty, is not to be trifled with! In the office competition for the spare ticket is fierce, so… after resorting to drawing straws… Jason and I set off on a sunny winters afternoon to spend two hours listening to magical music and watch a consummate professional at work.
After a short wait the audience, with small tittering’s of excitement, are ushered in for the broadcast. Musicians, dressed smartly in black, quietly and methodically prepare their instruments. With minutes to go to 4.30pm Sean Rafferty walks on and cracks a joke to announce his arrival; his professionalism as a presenter is immediately clear as he chats to the crowd – warm, friendly and instantly likeable. Members of the Moog Ensemble are warming-up: space age, futuristic, dystopian sounds, there’s the sound of various brass instruments as they practice, while radio producers have whispered conversations. Through it all Sean is completely at ease – joking with the audience – his very own warm-up act.
A hushed silence falls as we listen to the end of the previous Radio 3 programme… then it’s over to us… and Sean telling the audience all round the country, nay… the world, that Goonhilly Earth Station with its rich history is the perfect place to celebrate the culmination of Radio 3’s 70th birthday celebrations. Fittingly, the first song played by the Moog Ensemble and the brass section from Radio 3’s own Concert Orchestra is the theme from 2001 Space Odyssey, Also Sprach Zarathustra by Richard Strauss. It’s the first time they have ever played together and we are completely blown away! Then Truro Cathedral Choir walk silently in while Sean chats to Will Gregory leader of the Moog Ensemble, but best known as one half of Goldfrapp. The choir are dressed in their long red cassocks and sing like angels; their second song is a deeply moving version of Foray’s Ava Maria and I reach for a hanky! Later Jason tells me that he forgets all about his note taking as we all become totally engrossed in the moment. People continue to move silently around moving chairs and mics as bands and singers leave and others arrive to perform.
Radio 2’s award-winning Cornish folk group Changing Rooms are lyrical and evocative and I reach for my hanky again. I nudge Jason who is completely taken up in the music and remind him to try and take the odd photo when he can! He grins at me… along with the audience, we are both totally captivated.
Afterwards Sean chats to us. He is absolutely charming and equally self-effacing as he talks about his ability to walk and talk at the same time whilst managing not to get in the way of musicians and technicians… not that simple when you are going out live! Unsurprisingly he loves the frisson of doing the show live every weekday afternoon: “I’m never completely sure what’s going to happen, what people might say to me or indeed how good the musicians are going to be!” he explains with a grin “weren’t the Truro Choir perfect. Oh and I really enjoyed the folk group Changing Rooms… that was a lovely surprise.” He pauses: “But no matter what; we just have to go on.” He smiles again: “But I did make a bit of a faux pas asking them if they were going to sing anything in Welsh! That got the audience going! I just pick up the pieces and carry-on!”
It turns out he is already a fan of Cornwall and spent the previous evening in Porthleven. “What a gorgeous little harbour town, and absolutely fabulous food!” His assistant whisks him off to meet some of the waiting audience. We wander out into the dark night amidst the ghostly dishes, still exclaiming over the music and Sean’s funny one-liners.
In Tune can be heard each weekday afternoon from 4.30pm on Radio 3… and it always goes out live!