Humans have always looked to the birds. In mythology, they are carriers of souls, messengers to the gods, our familiars. In ecology, they are our measure, our meter, they mark the seasons…
In 2017 Jenny Sturgeon (Salt House, Jenny Sturgeon Trio) and Inge Thomson (Karine Polwart Trio, Da Fishing Hands) wrote and created Northern Flyway – an audio-visual production exploring the ecology, folklore, symbolism and mythology of birds and birdsong. Northern Flyway premiered to a sold-out audience at The Barn (Banchory) in January 2018 and a CD of the songs was recorded at Mareel, Shetland, over four days in early February 2018.
The music draws on the extensive field recordings of birdsong expert Magnus Robb, Sturgeon’s background as a bird biologist and Thomson’s home turf of Fair Isle, Shetland. The songs combine vocal and instrumental composition, interviews, sonic experimentation and lush and varied bird song from the northern hemisphere. Themes of human and avian migration, the seasons’ cycle and humanity’s relationship with nature resonate through this multi-dimensional work. Alongside Jenny and Inge, Northern Flyway also features singer/multi-instrumentalist Sarah Hayes (Admiral Fallow, Rachel Newton Band) and vocal sculptor/beatboxer Jason Singh (Follow the Fleet, Tweet Music).
Jenny Sturgeon – vocals, harmonium, dulcimer
Inge Thomson – vocals, accordion, flute, thumb piano, kaoss pad, wave drum
Jason Singh – beatbox and sound design
Sarah Hayes – vocals, piano, keys, flutes, Hammond
Magnus Robb and The Sound Approach – bird samples
Featuring – Whooper swan, Rosefinch, Swift, Siskin, Gannet, Curlew, Snipe, Lapwing, Linnet, Crested Tit, Osprey, Gold Crest, Black Grouse, Dotterel, Golden Plover, Red Grouse, Snow Bunting, Ptarmigan, Golden Eagle, White Fronted Goose, Waxwing, Redwing, Ural Owl, Tawny Owl, Goldeneye, Raven.
This project was made possible through support from Creative Scotland, PRS Foundation, The Scottish Ornithologists Club, The Barn, Northlink Ferries and LoganAir.
Artists’ website: https://www.spindriftproductions.co.uk/northern-flyway