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Absolute Bird: Translating Nature | City of London Sinfonia

Friday May 24, 2019 at 20:00
Queen Elizabeth Hall, Southbank Centre, London
£30, £20, £10; £5 students/16-25s
Phone for tickets: 020 7621 2800
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  1. Songbirdsongs - John Luther Adams
    • Morningfieldsong
    • Woodthrush
    • Meadowdance
  2. On hearing the first cuckoo in spring - Frederick Delius
  3. The Birds (Gli uccelli) - Ottorino Respighi
    • The dove
    • The nightingale
    • The cuckoo
  4. Le Merle bleu - Olivier Messiaen
  5. L'alouette calandrelle, from Catalogue d'oiseaux - Olivier Messiaen
  6. The Lark Ascending Op 50 - Ralph Vaughan Williams

City of London Sinfonia and guests present an evening of three parts in which chamber works inspired by birdsong are preceded by a pre-concert talk with TV/radio presenter Miranda Krestovnikoff and followed by a late night improvised set with award-winning folksinger Sam Lee.

Many 20th and 21st century composers have famously translated birdsong in their music, including in the suites for chamber forces by Respighi (The Birds) and more recently John Luther Adams (Songbirdsongs)—and not least the French composer Messiaen, who painstakingly transcribed birdsong in his inspiring compositions.

Adding another naturalist perspective to the performance, Alice Zawadzki lends her voice to the nest, performing songs with City of London Sinfonia and solo.

Pre-concert talk with Miranda Krestovnikoff (7pm; c 30-40mins)

TV/radio presenter and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) President Miranda Krestovnikoff recounts her amazing experiences of creating musical conversations with wrens. We'll also be joined by Huw Watkins and Roderick Chadwick who discuss classical composers' use of birdsong in their compositions.

Singing with Nightingales (10pm; c 75mins)

Folksinger and naturalist Sam Lee has been inviting audiences to hear the most mercurial of songbirds, nightingales, for the past few years in England’s few remaining ancient woodlands. Nightingales were at one time the ever-present background music to this country’s crisp spring nights, but their numbers and habitats have fallen sharply in the last 50 years, with fewer than 5,000 breeding pairs remaining.

In this late-night post-concert performance, musicians from City of London Sinfonia join Sam Lee and Alice Zawadzki in an improvised set in response to a live broadcast from special winged guests singing in an ancient English woodland.

Queen Elizabeth Hall, Southbank Centre
South Bank
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