From 1957–64, the young Peggy Seeger joined Ewan MacColl and Charles Parker, a BBC radio producer from Birmingham, to create the legendary Radio Ballad series, the first to describe people’s working lives in their own words. Since 2006 more than a dozen similar programmes have been made. At this concert, Peggy Seeger, long a renowned singer-songwriter in her own right, will be joined by Jez Lowe, one of the best singer-songwriters of this generation, and a principal contributor to the modern Radio Ballads.  April 2014 is the 50th anniversary of Travelling People, the final original programme.


The Charles Parker Day 2014

Studio Theatre, The Library Of Birmingham

Friday 5th April 2014 10:30 — 17:30

This year the annual conference that celebrates the radio feature – past, present and future – comes to the new Library of Birmingham where the extensive Charles Parker Archive is stored.

It’s 50 years since the last of the eight innovative radio features made by Charles Parker, Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger The Travelling People was broadcast.  So this year’s Charles Parker Day celebrates this ballad about travellers and examines the legacy of the whole series of Radio Ballads.

We are very pleased that for this special occasion we will be joined by one of the original creative team – Peggy Seeger.  In an illustrated conversation with Peter Cox (author of the definitive book on the Radio Ballads Set into Song) Peggy will reflect on the making of the ballads and in particular The Travelling People.

But have attitudes towards travellers changed during the intervening 50 years?  Heritage writer and consultant Sarah Baylis has been listening to the original Travelling People recordings in the Charles Parker Archive and examines their relevance for travellers today.  Rural Media’s Nic Millingtonand Damian Le Bas (traveller, playwright and editor of the Travelling Times) talk about how they have ‘moved on’ from the radio ballad format to an online interactive magazine.

When making the Radio Ballads, Ewan, Peggy and Charles recorded hours of material – real stories from real people.  Helen Lloyd is a former BBC radio reporter/producer who re-trained to work in oral history – she demonstrates how oral history recording differs from radio interviewing and examines the pitfalls and opportunities of working in oral history.

In the afternoon we explore the important legacy of the Radio Ballads – in music, radio production and drama.  Folk historians and archivists Ken Halland Doc Rowe examine how songs from the Radio Ballads turned into traditional folk songs.  Award-winning radio feature makers Alan HallSara Parker and Sally Goldsmith investigate the legacy of the Radio Ballads in radio production.  After he ‘left’ the BBC, Charles Parker founded Banner Theatre and it’s still going today – we’ll be joined by Banner’s director Dave Rogers to discuss their Video Ballads, and by playwright Rony Robinson who explores the work of Peter Cheeseman at the Victoria Theatre in Stoke-on-Trent in creating plays that adopted some of the Radio Ballad techniques.

In addition to Peggy Seeger speaking at the conference in the evening she will be giving an exclusive concert along with Jez Lowe (who wrote many of the songs for Radio 2’s new series of Radio Ballads) in Birmingham’s CBSO Centre.   Tickets £15 (£12 concessions) available from WeGotTickets or directly from the Traditional Arts Team on 0121 247 3856

Tickets for the Day Conference are £30 (£20 for students and concessions).  Click here to book online your tickets for the day – you will be contacted by email nearer the date regarding dietary preferences and additional registration details.

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