A Musical Bestiary

in Daily Programme

by Elrik Merlin on Wednesday, 12 November, 2014

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: (note new URL)


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