Weekend: Nick Nash discusses "A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols" broadcast

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MPR’s Rich Dietman talks with MPR producer Nick Nash on the upcoming live U.S. stereo broadcast of “A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols” by King's College, Cambridge.

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Away in a Manger as sung by the King's College Choir of Cambridge England the same choir that will be heard for the first time live and in Stereo in this country next Monday morning in his presentation of the Festival of nine lessons and carols the broadcast which has been carried for over 50 years by the BBC World Service comes to this country this year through a special Arrangement between the BBC and Minnesota Public Radio. The producer of the program is Minnesota public radio's niknash who's in the studio with me and I'd like to begin by asking you Nick how it is that MPR in the BBC of hooked up together to do this broadcast. Well, the quick answer is Rich that I sat down one day last year and wrote them a letter.And said that I knew that they broadcast this service both domestically and on the world service and would it be available in the US and I got the idea because for years I had heard the records of the King's College Choir in the Festival of nine lessons and carols and I thought given the season it would be a remarkable service to have on on public radio especially here in Minnesota. And as it turned out, of course, it will be heard not only here but also throughout the rest of the United States both on Christmas Eve morning and on Christmas morning. And so the way it happened was that I sat down and wrote the BBC and asked them if they'd make the the service available and its really through their cooperation that were able to do it. How is this broadcast different from the BBC World Service broadcast? The one that really has been available for 50 years or more. Well the the world service.Is a shortwave broadcast which means it is in not very good sound. It is available to anyone with a shortwave radio who can pick up the World Service broadcasts and that's easily done in this country. But this year we have it as you said live in Stereo and what we anticipate will be very high quality sound and that is the first time ever in the United States that we've been able to have the service with the best quality transmission possible. So it's of quite a different program altogether really the difference between telephone conversation quality sound and what you would hear on your on your stereo set at home. That's really what the difference is and at least part of the way it did comes to us via satellite. It will come to us via two satellites it the signal comes out of Cambridge, which is northeast of London and then at London it goes up on intelsat one of those wonderfully named satellites.In orbit over the Atlantic it comes down in Maine and the signal is then routed through very high quality telephone lines via New York down to Washington and in Washington, it goes up on West R1, which is the satellite National Public Radio uses and because we are in this transitional phase in public radio the show will be transmitted three ways. We will receive it at ksjn in Collegeville off of the NPR satellite. Some stations will receive it via the public television part of a satellite. They have they have high quality sound connections between television and radio stations in some cities in the United States and then the few stations which are not connected by either of these two methods will take it on the not very high quality. I'm sorry to say telephone line which has connected all of us here at Minnesota Public Radio to NPR over the last seven or eight years. This service is a very powerful service. It is aCollege service held in a college chapel. It is a community service for the city of Cambridge because of the over half century of broadcast by the World Service. It has come to be an important event for a great many people not just people from England, but from people in Korea and in Africa in the Mediterranean, this is an important Christmas tradition and my hope is that this will also become an important tradition in our country through this broadcast. What is the Festival of nine lessons and carols? Well, simply put it is nine by nine biblical lessons drawn from the Old and New Testaments and this year. We will hear 20 hymns and carols the the lessons remind us of man's relationship to God simply put and of the coming of Jesus birth and the remarkable celebration which surrounds it the lessons are read by various members of the academic community and representatives of the city of Cambridge. Between the lessons and and the few prayers which are in the service. Are these remarkable carols and hymns sung by what may be the best known Choir in the world known through its recordings and known through this broadcast and it is their their tonal quality these men and boys who are members of King's College who with a lot of training and not much rehearsal surprisingly enough are able to put on this worldwide broadcast every year and I think it's a nice way for those of us at Minnesota Public Radio to be able to say Merry Christmas to to public radio listeners around the United States and all of it really wouldn't be possible without an enormous amount of cooperation both on behalf of national public radio and the British Broadcasting Corporation. Thanks very much. Niknash who is producing this special Cooperative program with the BBC. And other stations in this country to be heard live in Stereo next Monday morning at 9 a.m. The Festival of nine lessons and carols.


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