Performance of choral work celebrating Arctic Terns by composer & librettist from AveburySaturday, May 25th will be a special day for Avebury composer Robin Nelson and his next-door neighbour, librettist Michael Polack. Their extended choral work Atlantic Odyssey that celebrates the Arctic Tern is to be staged in the Great Western Hall at Swindon’s Steam Museum.
Robin Nelson is the regular conductor of the Swindon Choral Society which will lead the performance. They will be joined from the USA by the Middle Choir of Georgia, who are coming specially for the occasion, along with the highly regarded Janice Thompson Junior Singers, two professional soloists and a twenty-piece orchestra.
As Robin Nelson told marlborough.news, Atlantic Odyssey combines his dual passions – music and birds. His inspiration for the composition came from a flock of 125 Arctic Terns that arrived at Cotswold Water Park in April 2012 on their way north.
Arctic Terns make the longest regular migration of any known species covering about 40,000 miles a year as they travel from the Arctic to the Antarctic and back again – getting two summers a year. About 50,000 pairs stop off in Britain to breed.
An Arctic Tern weighs no more than an apple and in its long, 30-year life flies the equivalent of three times to the moon and back. And they have been doing this for hundreds of thousands of years.
Atlantic Odyssey depicts through music and song many of the places and events the terns have passed over as they crossed the seas – from early seafarers, to the monks of western Ireland, to love of women for their absent fishermen and the first crossing of the Atlantic by Europeans.
This Odyssey is a historical and geographical journey celebrating the extraordinary bird and the Atlantic Ocean itself, but it comes with a warning about the terrible damage man is doing to the creatures, the coasts and the waters of our oceans.
The performance includes superb projected images of the Terns from renowned wildlife photographer and local farmer, David White. He has added some new photographs and enhanced the presentation since the work was first performed.
David White told marlborough.news: "Arctic terns are the most wonderful birds. I call them 'the swallows of the sea' - with their distinctive tail streamers. And the music and words are amazing - it's very special."
Robin Nelson has a long association with Marlborough. For many years, until 2003, he was Director of Music at the College. And before retiring to his current busy life, he was for a time Director of Music at Sherborne School. Michael Polack was Head of English at St John’s, Marlborough for 20 years until 1997.
The performance of Atlantic Odyssey takes place in The Steam Museum, Fire Fly Avenue, Swindon, SN2 2EY at 7.30 on Saturday, May 25.
Tickets can be bought from the choir’s website: www.swindonchoral.org.uk (Under-18s get free tickets)