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Friday, 29 September 2023

6:30 pm


Saint-Saëns - Carnival of the Animals

Richard Blackford - The Great Animal Orchestra

Rimsky-Korsakov - Flight of the BumbleBee

Beethoven - Symphony No. 6 ‘Pastoral’

Worthing Symphony Orchestra’s 2023/24 Season opens with an outstanding work from a remarkable British composer

Richard Blackford’s The Great Animal Orchestra is a Symphony for orchestra and wild soundscapes. It was inspired by the composer hearing extracts from Bernie Krause’s book The Great Animal Orchestra read on BBC Radio 4’s ‘Book of the Week’programme.

Bernie Krause talked of ‘biophony’: the collective voices generated by the organisms in a given natural habitat and time, and he likened these layers of sounds to the layers and textures of an orchestra. Consequently, Richard Blackford integrated some of these extraordinary sounds into an orchestral palette to create a a concerto for animals and orchestra. Animals include Bearded Arctic Seals, Humpback Whales, Pacific Tree Frogs, Crickets, Hyrax, Beaver, African Forest Elephants, Mountain Gorillas and Gibbons.

Saint-Saëns’s Carnival of the Animals contains some of the most exquisite and

much-loved music of all time including ‘The Swan’. Meanwhile, The Flight of the BumbleBee, dazzling in its virtuosity, needs little introduction.

Beethoven loved walking in the countryside and his Pastoral Symphony (No. 6), memorably used by Walt Disney in the original Fantasia movie, is full of the sounds of nature, including bird calls and a thunder storm.


Richard Blackford studied composition with John Lambert at the Royal College of Music, then with Hans Werner Henze in Rome. Early awards include the Tagore Gold Medal, the Ricordi Prize and the Mendelssohn Scholarship. He was first Composer-in-Residence at Balliol College Oxford, and later Composer-in-Residence to the Brno Philharmonic in the Czech Republic.

His works were performed in the major music festivals of the world, including Adelaide, Berlin, Brighton, Montepulciano, Cheltenham, Long Island and the BBC Proms. He has composed in virtually every medium, including opera, choral, orchestral, theatre, film and ballet, with his most recent ballet Biophony (2015) in collaboration with Bernie Krause and Alonzo King, winning “Best Contemporary Performance 2016” in the Italian dance magazine Danza&Danza.

As a media composer Richard was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Achievement in Music for his 4-hour score for the CNN/BBC series Millennium, and in 2015 was awarded Die Goldene Deutschland for services to music in Germany. In 2020 he won an Ivor Award in the Choral Category for his work Pietà. His literary collaborators include; Ted Hughes, Maya Angelou and Tony Harrison. He is a Director of the charity Music For Youth, President of the Bournemouth Symphony Chorus, a Trustee of the Aberystwyth MusicFest and Trustee of The Bach Choir.

Richard Blackford’s music is published by Novello and Nimbus Publishing.

Visit his website here

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