The first section of my new piece for String Octet depicts the arrival of the White Storks on their journey from Africa to West Sussex.
This is the first time I’ve written a piece that you might call programmatic – telling a story, having a narrative. It’s a simple narrative describing the stork’s migratory journey, but also at the same time I am attempting to depict in music their soaring flight, their inelegant flapping and tramping around the nest and the unforgetable way they clatter their bills.
I’ve always been interested in musical performance as choreography, playing with the moment that gesture becomes sound. And string players would seem to be ideally suited to depicting flight as they make their notes with sweeps of their arms and bows. I hope I can combine the look and the sound in the way I am imagining.
In this first section, the arrival of the white storks, I have used long melodies with large intervals to reflect the wide wing span of the birds as they ride the thermals and spiral in the air. The tempo quickens as they flap their wings and then they glide again. In the end though, music is an abstract art and although it’s useful to make pictorial analogies for inspiration and for writing, I hope that what is conveyed is the spirit of flight and flap without seeming too literal.
White Storks will be recorded at Knepp and broadcast in a special Shipley Arts Festival Zoom concert on Sunday 19th July 2020. https://shipleyartsfestival.co.uk/andrew-bernardi-knepp-castle/