David Owen Norris has appeared in a dozen television music documentaries, starting as the presenter of a ninety-minute programme on ‘authentic performance’, The Sound of Music on BBC2 in 1986, and continuing to his current slot on BBC2’s Proms Extra, Chord of the Week, which has made itself a must-see for the last three seasons, and returns this summer.
Perhaps his most celebrated sequence is his deconstruction of Parry’s Jerusalem in The Prince and the Composer, a programme on Sir Hubert Parry presented by HRH Charles, Prince of Wales, and directed by John Bridcut: first broadcast in 2011 and frequently repeated. Here are some of the reviews.
Richard Osborne The Oldie
Norris should be on our screens talking about music every week. Fifty short prime-time films by him would re-educate the nation for a generation.
The programme’s other gem was a breathtaking sequence in which the irrepressible David Owen Norris laid bare the prodigious skill and imagination that went into the making of ‘Jerusalem’. Presented to camera from the keyboard, it was a tour de force. Norris should be on our screens talking about music every week. Fifty short prime-time films by him would re-educate the nation for a generation.
It was Norris who defined the nature of Parry’s ‘Englishness’ over which the Prince agonized with several uncomprehending interviewees. His answer: reticence mingled with deep emotion in a quasi-coded language which the English love and understand.
David Butcher Radio Times
There are also ear-opening insights. Few people can unpack a piece of music better than David Owen Norris, and if you don’t fancy the whole hour and a half, tune in for his captivating analysis of Jerusalem about 40 minutes in. You’ll never hear it the same way again.
A.A. Gill Sunday Times
The joy of this programme was the deconstruction of the music by choristers and musicologists, in particular, a simply marvellous chap called David Owen Norris, who explained the ethereal nuts and bolts of Jerusalem with the panache and fizz of a rhythmic vacuum-cleaner salesman. Somebody needs to sign this man up for a series on why we love the music we love, right now.
As to radio, in addition to his innumerable broadcasts as a pianist, Norris has been a speech broadcaster since he presented Radio 3’s The Works from 1989-91. He was a regular member of the team presenting In Tune, the drive-time show, from 1992-98. His radio work is now chiefly focussed on the Playlist series and on Building a Library, but his other series and one-off programmes have included All the Rage and Gramophones & Grooves on Radio 4, and In Memoriam:1934 and Ten Tales from the Great War on Radio 3.