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Menagerie of Spectacular Creatures:
Georgia Aves

Concerto for flute and mixed quartet

fl | vln, vc | pf, perc​ 

Listen

Performed live by ensemble vim, Nicole Frankel, flute

St. Luke's Episcopal Cathedral, Atlanta, GA

© 2021 BLACKBURN ARTS (ASCAP)

Program Note

Menagerie of Endangered Creatures is a part of Luke Blackburn’s (b. 1992) Menagerie Series, a collection of multimovement “docu-compositions” originally based on Camille Saint-Saens’s Le carnival des animaux. Each suite within the collection considers the world from the perspective of various creatures or plants, usually native to the local environment where the piece is premiered. The series embodies the principle of conservation as an artistic practice by raising awareness of endangered species, promoting ecological preservation, and introducing audiences to their natural world.

Georgia Aves (2021) is the result of a collaboration between Blackburn and ensemble vim, a new music ensemble based in Atlanta, Georgia. The idea was born out of Blackburn’s friendship with flutist Nicole Frankel (a core member of ensemble vim), and the challenge of writing a flute piece about birds that avoids being cliché. Each movement is designed with two main ideas: one musical (based on a classical era form) and one extra-musical (a small snippet of the bird’s life, through sound).

 

Piping Plover [locally endangered, nationally threatened] is constructed as a theme and variations. The theme depicts these adorable small birds frolicking along the coasts of Georgia, searching for food, and occasionally bursting into flight.

 

Woodstork [threatened] is the traditionally slow second movement of a concerto, using only the flute, percussion, and piano to create the dense, humid environment in which these fowls thrive. Listen as these large birds move slowly through the Georgia swamps, each step making slight ripples in the water to avoid frightening its prey.

 

Red-cockaded Woodpecker [endangered] uses the form of a scherzo (ABA), where the primary musical material (A) mimics the movement of a woodpecker’s head pecking away at old forest pines. The opening theme returns in retrograde after a brief B section that uses Morse Code in rhythm to spell “Red-Cockaded Woodpecker.”

 

Golden-winged Warbler [threatened] (pictured on the score cover) is built as a small sonata, mirroring the wild and complex journey of this very small bird that migrates annually from Michigan to the Bahamas, often nesting in Georgia before the long over-sea flight.

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