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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

Available Recordings:

(none available)

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