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Seek the Light New EP from Karine Polwart

Oct 12, 2023

Singer, storyteller and seven-times Radio 2 Folk Awards winner, Karine Polwart presents a poetic three-part series for BBC Radio 4 that brings together her love of science, history, folklore and the natural world.

With sound design and co-composition from Pippa MurphySeek the Light, will transport the listener from the heavy heat of the tropical glass house in Edinburgh’s Royal Botanic Garden to a wind-swept seabird island on Scotland’s east coast, via the cratered surface of the planet Mercury.

Seek the Light marvels at the epic migration of the Arctic tern, the longest of any bird, in search of endless summer, and wonders how the lives of contemporary seabird scientists mirror those of the monks and lighthouse keepers who lived before them in the Isle of May, now a National nature reserve.

The naming of newly discovered craters on the South Pole of Mercury intersects with the tale of a little known eighteenth century Scottish songwriter, in a programme that asks who and what we choose to memorialise.

The series – a mesmerising blend of documentary, original music and spoken-word narration – begins with the story of the old Sabal bermudana palm that was the pride of Edinburgh’s Royal Botanic Garden (RBGE), the oldest specimen in its living collection. Sadly the plant’s desire to seek the light sealed its own fate. Its towering growth threatened to push through the dome of the garden’s iconic Victorian tropical glasshouse. On the eve of its felling in September 2021, Karine and fellow RBGE artist-in-residence, Pippa Murphy, hosted a ‘living wake’: a ceremony to honour the palm’s life and to acknowledge the grief of the gardeners who’d tended it.

Turns out though that the Sabal bermudana had been carrying a secret for its 200 year plus life, one which speaks of colonial history, and the ways in which greater than human life resists the containers we create for it.

Through song and narration, Karine and Pippa give voice to the palm tree, charting its long history and its relationship to the long lineage of gardeners who’ve watered, fed and pruned it over the centuries.

And she reveals its true identity.

To accompany the series there are four new tracks as part of the Seek the Light EP written by Karine Polwart & Pippa Murphy. The EP was released on Hudson Records last week,  alongside a Seek the Light playlist featuring the EP tracks, some of Karine’s other music and more from her friends and favourite musicians all inspired by science, history, folklore and the natural world

The first single Windblown (the Sabal’s last word ) was released on 27.08.23.

You can listen to all available episodes on BBC RADIO 4 & SOUNDS here:www.bbc.co.uk/programm…

For further details and information about remaining tour availability and her LIVE TO YOUR LIVING ROOM MATINEE, please visit: www.karinepolwart.com

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