A Musical Bestiary

Today’s pro­gramme focus­es on music inspired by the ani­mal king­dom, and includes the new album The Great Ani­mal Orches­tra by Richard Black­ford and Bio­pho­ny expert Bernie Krause, which includes nat­ur­al sound­scapes and crea­tures’ voic­es as part of the com­po­si­tion.

The bes­tiary (or Bes­tiarum Vocab­u­lum) was com­mon in the Mid­dle Ages and was a “com­pendi­um of beasts” from all over the known (and unknown) world, not all of which actu­al­ly exist­ed.

In the same way, today’s pro­gramme – a “Musi­cal Bes­tiary” – brings togeth­er pieces of music about ani­mals and birds from a great many gen­res. But at the heart of today’s show is one brand-new work.

great-animal-orchestra-pack-shot_0A 30-minute orches­tral com­mis­sion from the Chel­tenham Fes­ti­val, The Great Ani­mal Orches­tra was pre­miered on 12 July 2014 in Chel­tenham Town Hall. The Sym­pho­ny is a col­lab­o­ra­tion between Richard Black­ford and the world-renowned pio­neer of wild sound­scape record­ing and author Bernie Krause. Mar­tyn Brab­bins con­duct­ed the BBC Nation­al Orches­tra of Wales. For more details, click here.

The rest of the pro­gramme ranges wide­ly, from Eng­lish Baroque key­board pieces writ­ten “In Imi­ta­tion of Birds” to Celtic drag­ons, a Russ­ian Fire­bird and the odd demon, and cats big and small (from Elsa the Lioness in Born Free, to the odd Jel­li­cle Cat) along with the mar­vel­lous ani­mal songs of Flan­ders and Swann, Saint-Saëns’ Car­naval des Ani­maux (two dif­fer­ent ver­sions, one orches­trat­ed by Richard Black­ford), Vangelis’s Apoc­a­lypse des Ani­maux (which used to play in the inter­val before the band Yes came on stage back in the day), Bar­clay James Harvest’s Broth­er Thrush, The Lark Ascend­ing and the First Cuck­oo of Spring.

There will be some odd jux­ta­po­si­tions today, in a pro­gramme that brings togeth­er rock, Ear­ly Music, clas­si­cal, jazz, Celtic and even a lit­tle coun­try music.


Today’s pro­gramme is pre­sent­ed by Elrik Mer­lin. If you are in the Unit­ed States or Cana­da, please click here to launch the Stream Licens­ing play­er. To lis­ten from out­side North Amer­i­ca, click here to start your play­er .

This pro­gramme is also avail­able in enhanced-qual­i­ty AAC. Tune in here: http://64.237.34.50:9000/stream (note new URL)

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