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RSPB members in for a treat as birdsong inspired jazz suite hits Edinburgh

Last modified: 09 July 2010

Feeding flock of barnacle geese, RSPB Loch Gruinart reserve, Islay

The sounds created by thousands of barnacle geese helped inspire Naturally Inspired

Image: Andy Hay

Acclaimed jazz composers and drummers Stu Brown (Glasgow) and John Hollenbeck (USA) have swapped drum sticks for binoculars to create their new suite, Naturally Inspired.

The pair travelled to Islay to visit Loch Gruinart, an RSPB Scotland nature reserve famed for its geese and wading birds. There they made their own field recordings which helped to inspire the music, and which may even make it into the concert as audio samples.

One half of the duo, Stu Brown commented: “Being on Islay was a stunning experience. There were so many different natural sounds all around us constantly, the music just sprang to life from that.

“ I was particularly inspired by the sounds created by thousands of barnacle geese all calling together, which produced these complex polyrhythms, and the lapwings with their almost electronic calls.”

Stu and John were shown around the reserve by RSPB site manager James How, who helped them locate different species of birds for their recordings, including geese, rooks, oyster catchers and choughs, a rare species of crow found in the western fringes of the Britain Isles.  They even caught sight of a solitary egret, the only one on the island.

On Sunday the 8th of August Stu and John along with Theo Blackman (vocals), Julian Arguelles and Jorrit Dijkstra (saxes), Gary Versace and Paul Harrison (keys) will premier the music that was inspired by the bird song. They will also be taking some of the music outdoors at Edinburgh’s Botanic Gardens that afternoon. Hopefully the local bird life will join in.

Naturally Inspired Concert World Premier 8th August The Hub, Edinburgh, 8.30pm Tickets £12.50 available from 0131 473 2000 and,

Tickets can be purchased on a 'buy one, get one free' basis for RSPB members by quoting the phrase 'RSPB offer.'

Naturally Inspired at Royal Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh, 8th August 1pm to 5pm. Free entry.

Naturally Inspired > Botanic Gardens, 1pm, Free

An extraordinary afternoon in the Botanics where musicians, dancers and storytellers, inspired by nature, perform spontaneously and in small staged settings throughout the Gardens. John Hollenbeck and Stuart Brown with their group of Scottish, Dutch and American musicians will play solo, in duos and trios, and the event will also feature Saskia and Shubhendra Rao (from India); Bob Pegg and Andy Cannon; Marion and John Kenny; Ramesh and Kim Ho Ip; Rosina Bonsu and Jean Edmunson. Check out for full details.

Naturally Inspired: Stuart Brown/John Hollenbeck Group  > The Hub, 8.30pm, £12.50

Inspired by the sounds of wildlife - from the cross rhythms of geese and electronic squeals of lapwings - two of the most exciting young composers, from Scotland and the US, Brown and Hollenbeck unveil the world premiere of their new commission. Their stellar US/UK band features Theo Bleckmann (vocals) Julian Arguelles and Jorrit Dijkstra (saxes), Gary Versace, Paul Harrison (keys), Stuart Brown, John Hollenbeck (drums), plus electronics. Evocative, atmospheric, surprising, dynamic, rhythmic: this is music that aims to engage and entrance audiences and to inspire us to see and hear nature anew.