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Petroc Trelawny Petroc Trelawny | 16:57 UK Time, Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Picture of author Horatio Clare, naturalist Richard Mabey and Petroc Trelawny

Author Horatio Clare, naturalist Richard Mabey and Petroc Trelawny record from Earth Music Bristol for Radio 3 and Radio 4

Radio 3 presenter Petroc Trelawny is in Bristol for the Earth Music Festival - he explans what's on the Radio 3 and Radio 4 airwaves this week ...

 

 When you think about it,  so much music is inspired by the world around us, it’s extraordinary there aren’t more festivals like this. It’s such a simple idea. As the composer Edward Cowie, the energetic and ebullient artistic director of Earth Music Bristol puts it, musicians have listened and responded to the ‘songs of birds, insects, reptiles and mammals, as well as the roaring throats of volcanoes, the howl and wail of winds, the rhythmic beat of rain and hail, the baleful rumble of thunder, the crackle and hiss of fire and the roll and thud of waves on beaches.’

I’m sure it wouldn’t take you long to come up with a personal top ten of nature-inspired music;  and much of it features this week: Delius’s cuckoo,  Messiaen’s birds, Warlock’s Frostbound Wood, Vaughan Williams's Wenlock Edge, Stanford’s Bluebird, Britten’s Sea Interludes. You might like to check the concerts online and then suggest any missing pieces below. But what makes this festival so interesting is the context in which the music is placed.

BBC Concert Orchestra at St George's Bristol

The BBC Concert Orchestra squeeze on to the stage at St George's Bristol

Why we hear massed birdsong as being somehow symphonic is the subject of Thursday’s Essay, from sound recordist Geoff Sample. The next night poet and playwright Paul Farley will reflect on a shared love of reggae, dub, and the song of the bittern.  We’ll think more about the way musicians have transcribed birdsong in a live discussion during the interval of Thursday night’s BBC Singers concert;  and on Wednesday, I’ll be asking how television handles nature, with a distinguished figure from the BBC’s Bristol-based Natural History Unit, Alastair Fothergill, executive producer of Frozen Planet.

 

All these events are broadcast on Radio 3 this week – but if you are in Bristol come and join us at St George’s.  The talks are recorded at lunchtimes at 12.30pm, through until Thursday, and are free, the concerts start each night at 7.30pm.

And if you haven’t been to St George’s before (as I hadn’t until yesterday) hasten along. It’s a glorious, confident Georgian Church, offering rich acoustics and a warm welcome. The BBC Concert Orchestra were literally squeezed on to the stage last night, but their performance, ending with a thrilling account of Bartok’s Concerto for Strings, Percussion and Celesta set the bar high. An exciting week lies ahead. 

Now what’s that bird I can hear chirping outside my hotel room window …

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