classical music
contemporary classical

Why Birds Sing: Aurora Orchestra with Pierre-Laurent Aimard

Part of Classical Season 2017/18

Explore birdsong and man’s relationship with the natural world, in this Aurora Orchestra concert.

'A bird enjoys the note modulated by his own throat….he is able to choose among his notes the clearest, the purest, and the fullest...And it is in his search for beauty that the art of the bird touches us.’ Jacques Delamain, Why Birds Sing

In April 1952, Olivier Messiaen was given the book Why Birds Sing by Jacques Delamain. This then inspired the influential French composer’s lifelong obsession with birdsong.

Aurora starts its orchestral journey with this fascination, exploring the sonic wonders of birds through imaginative musical encounters; encounters that interweave orchestral performance with animation, audio storytelling, birdsong recordings, and an installation of 1,000 origami cranes – inviting you to enter a multisensory, symphonic world.

In Messiaen’s Oiseaux exotiques performed with renowned pianist Pierre-Laurent Aimard, swirl through the vibrant colours and enchanting contours of birdsong from an astounding array of 47 species. Then plunge into an elegiac meditation on the beauty of birdsong and its brutal silencing by humankind in Brett Dean’s evocative Pastoral Symphony – a virtuosic piece that incorporates recordings of butcherbirds from the Australian outback alongside the violent, man-made noises of axes, a lift falling, and a helicopter chopper.

And finally bask in the blissful joy of the great outdoors in Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony that poetically references the nightingale, cuckoo, and quail. This performance of Beethoven’s ode to nature will be performed entirely from memory – a signature artistic style of Aurora Orchestra that has continuously stunned and moved audiences for its expressive power.

Why Birds Sing is part of The Orchestral Theatre: The Claus Moser Series – an Aurora series that brings to life orchestral music in adventurous ways.


Aurora Orchestra
Nicholas Collon conductor
Pierre-Laurent Aimard piano


Messiaen: Oiseaux exotiques
Brett Dean: Pastoral Symphony
Ligeti: Poème symphonique for 100 metronomes
Beethoven: Symphony No.6 (Pastoral), performed from memory

Dates & times

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Royal Festival Hall


£10 - £35
Booking fee: £3.50 (Members £0.00)
£10, £20, £27.50, £35


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