Off to Knepp

Tomorrow, Steve and I will be driving off cross country for the first time since the beginning of lockdown. We will be travelling on the iconic A272, subject of ‘A272: An Ode to a Road’ by Pieter and Rita Boogaart, heading for the Knepp estate in Shipley, West Sussex, where the Bernardi String Octet will be recording my new piece, White Storks.

Four of the octet are the members of the quartet who performed in Artmusic’s ‘In the Field’ in Wadhurst in May 2015 and played my ‘A Field in May’ so beautifully. This commission is a consequence of that collaboration and it will be great to be working with those players again.

This morning Andrew Bernardi and I were interviewed on BBC Radio Sussex. The White Stork Project and Shipley Festival’s innovative online concerts are attracting a lot of attention. This concert is special in that it brings together Knepp’s rewilding project and the storks with music and the local community which supports Shipley Arts Festival. This is all very rooted in Sussex but interest in rewilding and protecting endangered species is universal. Because of the online platform we hope the audience will be from across the globe.

The first of the stork chicks flew the nest on Thursday afternoon. The other chicks may be taking their first flights while we’re at Knepp, which would be very exciting to see. The first new stork life in Britain for 600 years. They are beautiful, engaging birds with great character and I feel very fortunate to have been asked to write music to celebrate their return to our landscape.

You can see video of the first chick’s first flight on instagram at @kneppsafaris and you can follow the progress of the storks by visiting the White Stork Project website. And to find out more about the concert on Sunday 19th July and to buy tickets visit the Shipley Arts Festival website.

3 thoughts on “Off to Knepp

  1. chris lurca July 12, 2020 / 3:42 pm

    good Luck,wish I could be there (b.v.,perc.,alpine horn, etc.,)may try and make the festival


  2. July 19, 2020 / 9:21 pm

    Hello Helen,

    What an experience that was – the whole performance on Zoom! I loved the whoe performance but especially the White Storks and can’t wait to hear it again… I wasn’t so keen on the dancer and thought we could have had the storks but then I’m a naturalist! I liked the way the musicians performed with such delight and was really surprised how good the sound was on my laptop, except you were right that the clacking didn’t come across strongly enough. And you were announced as a national event on the radio news this morning! I hope that you will have lots of occasions to do it again and also that you have more open air events – I still remember the quarry! I look forward to catching up somewhere, sometime. With very best wishes,



    • helenottaway July 27, 2020 / 3:29 pm

      Pat thank you for your lovely comments. It’s been a really special commission. I hopoe there will be many public performances in the future when such a thing is possible again.


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