THE SONGBIRD ORATORIO
related links: 7 monologues from the SongBird Oratorio
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The idea for the SongBird Oratorio was hatched in the fall of 1997, at the very genesis of the SongBird project. Project co-founders Beth Carruthers and Nelson Gray were walking through a community garden in an otherwise light industrial area of the city of Vancouver, when a robin's evening song rang out above the noise of refridgerator trucks and commuting traffic. Amazed that it could be heard so clearly and caught by the moment, the ideas they had been discussing for an ecoARTs awareness project came sharply into focus. The songbird, and the birdsong, embodied both the urban situation and a way to remember the city within nature and nature within the city. The song brought them, for a long, clear moment, into the awareness of relationship with our environing world.

Nelson, as an interdisciplinary theatre artist, immediately wanted a performance. Informed by the ideas in the developing SongBird project, and later by collaboration with singer/composer DB Boyko, the SongBird Oratorio was 3 years in development.

The SongBird Oratorio tells a story of interspecies communication and a desire for greater understanding. The characters are 3 "songbirds"and a researcher/scientist attemting to translate the language of the birds.

Five composers representing different cultural backgrounds were commissioned to compose 5 arias based on indigenous, local birdsong and Nelson Gray wrote 7 monlogues for the character of the researcher/scientist.

The arias were performed at the first 2 Dawn Chorus Celebrations, and the Oratorio in its final form was presented at the Dr. Sun Yat Sen Classical Chinese Garden in Vancouver's Chinatown in May of 2001 in conjunction with the 3rd annual Dawn Chorus Celebration.

The Oratorio was produced by Savage Media in partnership with SongBird's production of the 2001 Dawn Chorus Celebration. For more on the Oratorio, please contact Nelson Gray.