BBC Radio 3 will be featuring birdsong throughout May and June as part of its foray into ‘slow radio’. Air-time will be given over to slower-paced, nature-inspired output designed to encourage listeners to pause and appreciate the simple sounds of life. A new feature, Breakfast Birdsong, will air each weekend as part of the Sunday breakfast show between 7-9am.
Breakfast Birdsong will begin with the introduction of a bird (such as the nightingale, cuckoo or warbler), followed by the chance to hear a recording of that bird in the wild and paired with a piece of music. Listeners are promised at least one minute or more of pure birdsong during each programme.
BBC Radio 3’s Late Junction and World on 3 will present a special collaboration with singer and folksong collector Sam Lee in a series exploring what happens when one of nature’s finest singers, the nightingale, meets human artistic creation. Every spring, during the months of April and May, the woods of Sussex resound with the songs of the nightingale. Sam Lee and his musical colleagues venture into the woods to make music with the nightingales, creating a series of completely new, nature-inspired compositions for the Radio 3 audience. The late-night sessions will be broadcast from Tuesday 10 – Friday 13 May and alongside Sam Lee (13 May) will feature Alice Zawadzki (vocals and fiddle, 10 May), Rachel Musson (saxophone, 11 May) and Hyelim Kim (taegum, 12 May).
Later in the summer, Radio 3 returns to the Aldeburgh Festival and will broadcast a complete performance of Messiaen’s birdsong-inspired Catalogue d’Oiseaux (Sunday 19 June). Performed by the festival’s Artistic Director Pierre-Laurent Aimard across four concerts set alongside the myriad real-life birdsong of the Suffolk coast, the piece will be arranged so that the birds depicted are heard as close as possible to the times of day associated with their song, from the pre-dawn chorus before first light at 4:30am over the reedbeds at Snape Maltings to a pre-dusk performance amidst the teeming wildlife of the RSPB Minsmere nature reserve and a late-night concert recorded in full darkness. Complementing the performance, Tom Service takes ornithological matters as his starting point in The Listening Service, for an exploration of the way composers use birdsong in music (5pm, Sunday 19 June).