Online videos of flocking starlings, performing breathtaking, whirling aerial displays as they prepare to roost for the winter season, have gone viral. This phenomenon, known as murmuration, is nature in its most fleetingly beautiful and instinctively synchronous form, displaying processes that are poised at the moment of change, to be spontaneously and almost entirely transformed. Not unlike the collective unconscious of a great orchestra breathing together as one, the celestial congregation of starlings and other phenomena are clear testaments to the natural world’s capacity to re-inspire.
Amidst the emergent environmental crisis, it might appear that very little energy is spent on conveying to the public the visceral beauty of our ever-changing, ever-renewing natural world. By suggesting through the comparable power of music – and without programmatic depictions – nature’s awe-inspiring capabilities, my hope is to inspire a greater appreciation of our environment. This is not an original theme: the suggestion and subtlety of Debussy’s La Mer, Sibelius’ adoration of the Finnish landscape in musically embodying the moods of nature and the ever-changing seasons, and Messiaen’s timeless tribute to the infinite creativity, ingenuity, and vitality of the natural world, as examples. After all, music is possibly the only human endeavor that has the potential to match nature’s evanescent splendor.
Starling seeks to capture in musical form the same boundless, breathless, fleeting and visceral qualities indicative of nature. Evocative and startling colours, characters and textures inspire a work that uncovers a deeply intuitive and mystical relationship to nature through sound. Musical techniques, such as aleatoric devices, spontaneous content-driven forms, and the soloists’ dynamic interactions with each other and the orchestra, assist in suggesting the intuitively ever-changing, non-linear processes of nature.
© Jordan Pal