Sunday (October 20) will be a very 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 will have its world premiere at St Peter’s Church, Eastleaze.
Robin Nelson is the regular conductor of the Swindon Choral Society which will lead the performance. They will be joined by Warneford Junior School Choir, two professional soloists and a twenty piece orchestra.
As Robin Nelson told Marlborough News Online, Atlantic Odyssey combines his dual passions – music and birds. His inspiration 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 will be an historical and geographical journey celebrating the bird and the Atlantic Ocean itself. And it will come with a musical warning about the damage man is doing to these vital oceans.
The performance will include projected images and video of the Arctic Tern’s year and of some of the themes depicted in the original music and songs of the choral work.
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.
The orchestra for the world premiere of this unusual work will include a percussion section comprising the College’s percussion master and his star pupil, 15 year-old Sophie.
Tickets can be booked through the Swindon Choral Society website or from Sound Knowledge, Marlborough’s record shop – phone 01672 511106.
The world premiere of Atlantic Odyssey takes place at St Peter’s Roman Catholic Church, Carronbridge Road, Eastleaze, Swindon, SN5 7ES – at 7.30 on Sunday, 20 October 2013.