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.