Birding in the Palisades

Flute/piccolo, b-flat clarinet, piano, optional narrator
1. Eagles’ Flight
2. The Kingfisher and the Fish
3. Crows
14’
2009

Sheet music available from Theodore Presser Company.

Program Notes

Originally commissioned by the Palisades Virtuosi, Birding in the Palisades is a three-movement piece for flute/piccolo, clarinet (b-flat) and piano.

The first movement, Eagles’ Flight, depicts an aural dance between two American Bald Eagles perched high on treetops swaying in a gusty breeze. When the wind picks up, the Eagles take flight and we follow them as they play in the sky, soaring, diving, and gliding.

The Kingfisher and the Fish, the second movement, is a wry dramatic miniature set around a small pond (the piano). A fish (the clarinet) is swimming peacefully, oblivious to the hungry Belted Kingfisher (the flute) hovering above. The Kingfisher makes a ratcheting sound as it flies, which the flute mirrors with its fluttertongue effect. Does the Kingfisher get its meal? Listen and find out…

Crows, the third and final movement is an exploration of nature out of balance. This piece was inspired by my reading about the Crows of Tokyo. Due to the large amount of waste produced by Western-influenced Japan, the huge scavenging Crows of Tokyo (much larger and more aggressive than the American Crow) are flourishing more than ever, and are becoming a problem in Japanese cities. The intelligent birds are causing frequent short-circuits, blackouts and even disrupted train service from biting into power lines. They will sometimes go aggressively after people carrying bags of food and are constantly outsmarting culling efforts. After one of the birds attacked the mayor of Tokyo in 2001, the city responded by killing 93,000 crows between 2001 and 2008. Japan’s crow problem is reflected in the violent outer sections of the movement. I was struck by this piece of news, because I have been touched by the spiritual belief of many Native American tribes, in which Crows represent wisdom that transcends ordinary dimensions such as space and time. They are seen as harbingers of change who sometimes pass important messages to humans. Many Native American believe that if a Crow talks to you, it is advisable to listen. Today, I wonder if we are listening closely enough to what the crows of Tokyo are telling us? The piccolo solo in the middle of the movement is a meditation on the strange wisdom of the crow.

©2019 Copyright - Amanda Harberg