The programme, entitled Hearing Ragas, centres on the remarkable story of Professor Paul Robertson and his musical experiences while recovering from a coma.
From the BBC website:
“When Paul and John met at a conference in 2007 they discovered that they had a shared interest in near death experiences. During the course of their conversation, John stated that he wanted to write a piece for Paul involving four string quartets to be called Towards Silence. John duly wrote the piece and Paul started to make arrangements for its premiere. At this point, John suffered a heart attack and was taken into intensive care in Switzerland. Within weeks, Paul’s aorta gave way and he found himself in a London hospital. During his six week coma, Paul had a series of horrific visions, but was occasionally comforted by the sound of a woman singing Indian ragas. Only when he came out of the coma did he realise for the first time that the music John had written for him: Towards Silence, was based on an Indian raga. Paul then used the practising of this piece to rehabilitate himself after the paralysing strokes he’d suffered during his coma.”
Bringing together Professor Paul Robertson and Sir John Tavener, the programme, originally aired on Friday September 7, delves into their experiences as they talk about their respective illnesses and how the musical episodes have changed their lives.
The broadcast features music by Sir John Tavener along with a soundtrack by Simon Hall and Sanchita Pal singing Ragas, and is available to listen back to for the next four day until Thursday September 14.
Have you listened to the show? What did you think of Sir John and Professor Robertson’s experiences and the programme in general?