Bird Year

Composition Date: 2006

Duration: 5'

Orchestration: SATB Choir



Bird Year was commissioned by Phoenix Singers of Shrewsbury, and first performed by the group in 2006. The text consists of four poems written by the composer, and suggests the continuity of life by representing each season with a particular bird.



Programme Note:




Bird Year


Sally Beamish 2006


for unaccompanied choir (SATB)




The four poems are my own, and suggest the continuity of life by representing each season with a particular bird. The music is characterised by raw intervals; 4ths, 5ths and semitones.


The work was commissioned by the Phoenix Singers of Shrewsbury, with financial assistance from the Arts Council of England, the Performning Rights Society, and Shrewsbury and Atcham Borough Council. It was first performed by the Phoenix Singers of Shrewsbury, directed by Richard White, on April 1st 2006, at St Chad’s, Shrewsbury.


Sally Beamish 2006





the season is hatched

green and gold

from its frozen shell


shoots push through

taut skin


it tests its wings

and the air is doused

with fresh notes


the season is hatched again





she swoops

across the height of the day


insects hover

pulsing the warmth

with soft droning


her split tail

curves and turns

as she

snatches them



wild geese



they’re setting

a flaming trail


stirring up


a wind scattering

cocktail party chatter

and shaking the clothes

from the trees


barn owl


in freezing dark

a white shadow

hurtles earthwards

face flashing

a heart of snow


cries cut bitter air


starlight splinters


a sparkling death


Sally Beamish





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Available Recordings:


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