Bright IDEAS for 2020: Our annual New Year's levee

There's a custom that started in New France where the colonial governor opened the doors of his mansion to people every New Year's Day, to share holiday cheer and listen to concerns and hopes for the future. So IDEAS has thrown open the studio doors, to hear from producers who are preparing shows for the next season.

From what 'I love you' really means, to the problem with walls, to universal rhythm

Happy 2020 to IDEAS listeners everywhere. Get ready for another season of radio for the mind. (Romeo Ranoco/Reuters)

In a time-honoured tradition here at Ideas, host Nahlah Ayed swings open the studio door on New Year's day to greet producers and contributors, and together they peer into the future to discuss documentaries in the works that are helping us answer some of the big questions.

"The year 2019 brought a monumental change for me," says Ideas host Nahlah Ayed.

"It's the very first time I sat in this studio to start a journey of a different kind — what our executive producer Greg Kelly calls a 'journey of the mind' — into the deepest end of some of the biggest ideas of our times."

"In 2020 there'll be no shortage of journeys and stories with which to mark time -- stories that will make a mark on all of our lives," says Ayed.

"And it looks like we'll also have plenty of chances to reflect on our collective history."

She points out that this year we will mark the 75th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the end of the second world war. We'll also remember philosopher Bertrand Russell 50 years after he died, the Group of Seven a 100 years after it was created, and Beethoven 250 years after he was born.

Meanwhile, Ideas producers and contributors are busy building up a roster of radio-for-the-mind documentaries and join Nahlah Ayed in studio to discuss their upcoming projects. 

Marianne Apostolides' novel, I Can’t Get You Out of My Mind, asks what it means to be human — and to love. (Jorjas Photography)

'I Love You'

Those three words are the most powerful and misunderstood words in the English language, according to writer and contributor Marianne Apostolides.

"There's something quite mysterious about it, and it can go awry," says Apostolides. 

"I still don't know what 'I love you' means. But by exploring it from various perspectives, I hope listeners will think about what it means and examine it in their own lives." 

Her episode about those slippery three words will broadcast on Ideas February 14.

The Mystery of Rhythm

Humans are drawn to beats and rhythmic patterns. Drummer and IDEAS contributor Mitch Stuart is on a mission to understand where this drive comes from.

"Rhythm is fundamental to our essence," says Stuart who talks to musicians, psychologists and neurologists.

His documentary is scheduled to broadcast in the spring.

Saxophone's Soul

Ideas producer Sean Foley will be digging into what he calls the 'spiritual life of the saxophone.' It's something he's been thinking about "ever since I heard the music of John Coltrane." 

Persian travel

Ideas producer Naheed Mustafa will be sharing the stories and insights of the first Iranian newspaper man Mirza Saleh Shirāzi, who in the 19th century traveled to Europe to document the what he observed of Europe's evolution into the so-called modern world.

"We often come into the western view of the 'east'," says Mustafa. "So for me it was really interesting to see this account from the other view. "


Philip Coulter and Nahlah Ayed will continue their series on walls that divide and define us, visiting the border between Hungary and Serbia. 

Refugees stand behind a fence at the Hungarian border with Serbia, Sept. 16, 2015. IDEAS host Nahlah Ayed and producer Philip Coulter went to Hungary to continue their series, Walking the Border: Walls That Divide Us. (ARmend Nimani/AFP via Getty Images)

The series started in Northern Ireland in September.

"The reason why we picked Northern Ireland was pretty much because that was a sectarian border, really. It  was separating Catholics and Protestants and there was a whole politics behind that," explains Coulter.

This coming season, the series is set in Serbia and in Hungary, where Coulter adds there's more of a fence than a border.

"It was built in 2015 in response to that huge influx of people that came from Africa and the Middle East — mostly Middle East — in what people called the Europe's refugee crisis.

"It was the Prime Minister's response, many would say political response to this arrival."

This episode was produced by Nicola Luksic.


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