Tune on Tuesday
Summer 2023 - caring for our environment
This term we turn our attention to the natural world. We humans may be one species among many but we are the only one we know of that can understand the value of nature, the neccessity of biodiversity and it's importance for everybody - whoever they are.
More music that shares how composers listen to and recreate the sounds of the natural world.
This beautiful music, a sound picture of the beautiful meadows that used to be all over England, is played here by the Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, who year 3 and 4 heard in concert in March. It was composed by a young man who died as a young soldier in the first world war.
Ms S was very pleased to see that in our school meadows, the Yellow Rattle has kindly established itself. Yellow Rattle is a plant that acts as a parasite on the grass, preventing the grass getting too strong and bullying the other meadow plants. Yellow Rattle seeds are more expensive than gold - a gram of yellow rattle seed is more expensive than a gram of gold! And it is more precious than gold in another way: yellow rattle will keep our meadows healthy and a place where many different plants can thrive. And where many plants can thrive... many different insects and birds can find food.
Henry Purcell ~ a prelude to the opera The Fairy Queen
The flute creates the birdsong in this beautiful beginning to a beautiful opera. The start of Spring in Vivaldi's Four Seasons also has birds twittering and flitting about. You can hear them at about 29 seconds in! When we think about it, birdsong will have been the very first music our human ancestors, the first humans, will have heard. It must have inspired the very first music, made many thousands of years ago before music could be written or recorded. I wonder what it sounded like?
Summer's Coming and Birdsong can be heard in the trees as they come into leaf
We left for the holiday in the cold and damp and have returned to trees leafing up and Winter behind us at last. In Summer term our focus turns to caring for the environment. We humans are just one species among millions who live or have lived on planet Earth. We are connected to all life on Earth and depend on it for our own well-being and survival, from the plants and animals that are our food to the trees for the air we breathe and oceans and forests that regulate our climate. But being one among many doesn't mean we're not special. We are the only species we know of who can understand the natural world, how it works and why it is so important for our lives and futures.
With migratory birds returning from as far away as Southern Africa for Summer in the UK Birds are the theme for April's listening. Birds can be an enriching part of our everyday lives, should we choose to notice and appreciate them. Many people now have bird feeders in gardens, encouraging our feathered friends to visit and entertain us. Gardeners have been helping some bird populations but other populations, especially specialised types of birds who are particular about where they nest, are in need of urgent protection.
The Rite of Spring caused a riot when it was first performed. Ms S was at the Liverpool Phil last week listening to it; it has gone from being shocking and causing a disturbance in the audience to being a loved piece by orchestras and audiences. The piece was inspired by the old religions that were believed not only in Russia but across Europe too, the pagan religions which were followed before Christianity, Judaism, Islam and Hinduism came to our shores. The pagan religions were very much in tune with the seasons and when people didn't get food from supermarkets, the Spring, a time when new life (and for our pagan ancestors, food) is springing up all around us was the most important time of the year.
Ralph Vaughan Williams
This is one of British listeners' favourite pieces of classical music. Written in 1914 it wasn't played in public until 1920. Larks are known for their beautiful singing voices. Larks nest on the ground and like farmland. Their habitats are under threat with modern farming methods and in the 1990s the UK population of Larks halved and is still in decline. In the last episode of David Attenborough's Wild Isles, Saving Our Wild Isles, you can find how some farmers here in Britain are changing their practice, learning to farm alongside and with wildlife.
This is one of nine short piano pieces making up Schuman's Waldzsenen (Forest Scenes). A prophet is someone who can tell the future. The health of the bird population is a good indicator of the health of the natural world. Most wild birds are in decline, their habitats and breeding grounds affected by manmade climate change and pollution.
Near school we have the River Weaver which is home to many birds. There are Kingfishers nesting along the Weaver. There is a nest right on the banks of the river near Kingsmead so let's hope you see one of our irridescent neighbours this summer. You will have to look out though; they are as fast as lightening! If you see a flash of blue that you think is a giant dragonfly it could well be a Kingfisher. Birds' nests are always interesting but remember it is really important to leave them in peace. Birds whose nests are disturbed by humans may not return to their eggs or young. Sometimes taking care of wildlife is as easy as letting it be and appreciating it when it shows itself to you.
While you listen to the piece, can you picture a bird, perhaps a Kingfisher, on our river? Where in the music is it flying? When might it be perching or on the ground? Can you imagine it soaring on the air?
Schuman wrote his Forest Scenes for pianists but when a piece is especially loved it will be arranged for other instruments.