Commissioned by Beccles Festival for the London Mozart players. First performed on 17 September 2011 conducted by Elgar Howarth.
The Barley Bird is based on the book of the same name by Richard Mabey and concerns the nightingale and its sad depletion in recent years. It is written as a sort of “Seasons Symphony” in a single movement starting with the passage from late summer to Autumn with sounds of hunting and other strenuous winter activity forming the central scherzo. There is a brief lyrical “Trio” section which refers to Holst’s “In the Bleak Midwinter” then everything freezes in a series of “glacial” chords. As we approach Spring we anticipate the arrival of the Nightingale (April 23rd in my village) but there is NO nightingale – just a few sad bars and a final oboe solo.
Programme note by Gordon Crosse