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Emma Jayakumar: Bell Birds (Darlington Quartet)
Emma Jayakumar’s Bell Birds suite is an expression of profound love for the Australian bush and its unique, audacious animals. Inspired by Henry Kendall’s famous and beloved poem ‘Bell Birds’, it’s a delightful soundscape evoking the sounds of the birds, the gumtrees, the flowers and the rich smells of the forest earth.
‘I grew up in the Hills in Perth, and have just recently bought a house back up in Gooseberry Hill after living in the city, and in Sydney and London for spells of time. I’ve always been struck by how profoundly homesick I became for the sights and sounds of the Australian bush whenever I lived away.’ The Bell Birds suite draws on childhood memories of trips to the Blue Mountains on the continent’s eastern coast, getting out of the car to listen to the unique beauty of the bell birds calling.
Also reflected in the music are the songs of golden whip birds, djidi djidi (willy wagtails), currawongs and bar-shouldered doves. Each movement is inspired by a line from Kendall’s poem, and the rich melodies underlying the whole suite speak movingly of the poet’s love for the land and its creatures.
Bell Birdswas commissioned by ABC Classic in 2020 as part of the ABC’s Fresh Start program.
EMMA JAYAKUMAR Bell Birds
I. Largo tranquillo — By channels of coolness the echoes are calling
II. Allegro luminoso — They start up like fairies that follow fair weather
III. Lento sognando — Loiters knee deep in the grasses to listen
IV. Allegro furioso — When fiery December sets foot in the forest
V. Largo con dolore — Charming to slumber the pain of my losses