Including Koko Taylor on Blue Monday

by Fiona Rae / 25 December, 2010

CHRISTMAS DAY

Sugar and Spice's Christmas Morning (Radio New Zealand National, 6.00am). Time for RNZ on-air staff to let down their hair - Christmas fairies Sugar and Spice (Katrina Batten and Catriona McLeod) festively take us through until noon with stories, music, messages and staff and listener requests. It will be the third year in a row that the pair have presented Christmas morning, if Spice doesn't lose her voice, that is. Later, they may need a nice cup of tea and a lie-down. Other RNZ National highlights today include Carols at Christmas (1.06pm), featuring Maddy Prior and the Carnival Band; the continuation of A History of the World in 100 Objects (2.06pm); Being Joseph (5.12pm), a BBC programme about Jesus's step-dad; and Christmas Night with Peter Fry (7.06pm) to see out the evening.

Music Alive (Radio New Zealand Concert, 8.00pm). The vital and vivacious Viva Voce present a Christmas night programme that mixes up the traditional and the popular. There's Britten's Hymn to the Virgin, Poulenc's Videntes Stellam, plus Twelve Days of Christmas, Jingle Bells, and Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.

BOXING DAY

Spectrum (Radio New Zealand National, 12.15pm). Spectrum's Justin Gregory travels to a remote Taranaki valley to investigate Aotuhia, a township that lasted just 40 years. It was populated by farmers, timber workers, a butcher, a baker and a jeweller, and there was a second wave of settler-farmers after World War I, but defeated by bad weather, a collapsing market, and the worst road in New Zealand, the last remaining settler gave up and walked off his land in 1940.

Opera on Sunday (Radio New Zealand Concert, 3.00pm). Today features the winner of the 2010 Gramophone Awards' Best Opera Recording. It's Wagner's Götterdämmerung, starring Katarina Dalayman as Brünnhilde and Lars Cleveman as Siegfried. They are accompanied by soloists from the Hallé Choir, the BBC Symphony Chorus, the London Symphony Chorus and Royal Opera Chorus, and the Hallé Orchestra, conducted by Sir Mark Elder. The recording was made over two nights at Manchester's Bridgewater Hall, and is "the most compelling and best-cast Götterdämmerung on disc since Barenboim's from Bayreuth in October 1994", said Gramophone. On New Year's Eve, Appointment (7.00pm) plays Gramophone's Recording of the Year, Infelix Ego, by 16th- and 17th-century specialists the Cardinall's Musick. The album is the 13th and final volume in the group's series covering the entire Latin sacred music of William Byrd.

The Sunday Feature (Radio New Zealand National, 4.06pm). The final recording from Smart Talk at the Auckland Museum features theologian Sir Lloyd Geering, 92, who is still challenging ideas of religious belief.

MONDAY DECEMBER 27

Summer Report (Radio New Zealand National, 7.00am). It's all summer this and summer that - let's hope the weather lives up to the name. From 6.00am, it's Summer Mornings with Stuart Keith, and then Simon Morton and Rowan Quinn are in for Summer Report, the usual lively, and more relaxed, version of Morning Report. Interviews, news, information, music, etc. If you were thinking, "there should be more programmes with the word 'summer' in the title", well, at 9.06am, there's Summer Noelle, the usual lively but relaxed mix of news, interviews, information, music, etc, with Noelle McCarthy. But wait, there's more summer - Summer Nights with Liam Ryan from 7.06pm is the usual lively but relaxed - oh, you get the picture.

Matinee Idle (Radio New Zealand National, 12.35pm weekdays). What delights are Simon Morris and Phil O'Brien thinking up for our aural pleasure? The top 10 songs featuring animal noises? Singing seamstresses? Crooning carpenters? It's perhaps best we don't know how Morris and O'Brien obtain the most obscure and bizarre sounds ever committed to vinyl - some deal struck in the 9th circle of Hell is our best guess - but we're glad they do.

Blue Monday (Radio New Zealand National, 11.06pm). Ladies and gentlemen, live from Chicago, the Queen of the Blues. Tonight's 1987 recording of Koko Taylor, An Audience with the Queen, features the blueswoman's big, powerful, rough voice in full effect on songs such as Let the Good Times Roll, I'd Rather Go Blind and her hit, Wang Dang Doodle.

THURSDAY DECEMBER 30

Tony Levin in Conversation (Radio New Zealand National, 11.06pm). The bassist who has played with Alice Cooper, Lou Reed, David Bowie, Stevie Nicks, Pink Floyd and Tim Finn, to name just a handful, talks with Andy Bassett about his illustrious career. The interview was recorded at the international guitar festival, G-TARanaki, in New Plymouth earlier this year.

NEW YEAR'S EVE

New Year's Eve with Warwick Burke (Radio New Zealand National, 7.06pm). Goodbye twenty-ten, hello twenty-eleven.

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