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On 27 April 2021 Spell Songs, the exceptional musical ensemble commissioned by Folk by the Oak festival and born of The Lost Words and The Lost Spells books by Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris, will re-unite to perform at London’s Natural History Museum
This very special concert, with a unique message of respect for nature at its core will, fittingly, be performed and livestreamed to viewers across the globe beneath Hope, the magnificent blue whale skeleton that is currently suspended high up in the breath-taking space of Hintze Hall.
The evening will be a heady mix of rich spoken voice, whispers, accents, dialects, native languages, proverbs, sayings, birdsong, river chatter and insect hum, alongside beguiling music, song and visual beauty.
Joining the live stream of the concert is free, but viewers are encouraged to donate what they can, with all funds raised supporting the Museum’s Urban Nature Project, which will not only help to transform the Museum's five-acre outdoor site into a centre for biodiversity and conservation research, but crucially launch a UK wide urban biodiversity movement that will connect communities with urban nature and create advocates to protect our planet. All donors who give £10 and over will receive VIP virtual access to the experience on 27 April, which includes extended behind-the-scenes content with Spell Songs collaborators and a Museum scientist.
Sir David Attenborough, who supports the Urban Nature Project, described the project as an “open door for young people to fall in love with the nature on their doorsteps and develop a lifelong concern for the world’s wild places.”
Discussing Spell Songs, Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris say, “Undoubtedly one of [The Lost Words] most thrilling transformations has been into the music [of Spell Songs] brought about by the vision and brilliance of seven musicians, who have together taken The Lost Words and turned it into something diverse, hopeful, moving and new.” - Robert Macfarlane
“Robert and I found ourselves working with musicians who had been the soundtrack to our working lives. Spell Songs gives wings to the book. – words and images weave a spell, music created around both word and image carries that spell deeper into the soul.” Jackie Morris
The award-winning musicians collaborated in January 2019 to create the Spell Songs album inspired by the art, poetry and environmental ethos of The Lost Words. This first album was released to critical acclaim and enjoyed a series of sell out performances at exceptional venues around the UK, including the Hay Literary Festival where it was hailed by the Festival Director as “one of the greatest concerts we have ever had at Hay”.
With The Lost Spells (affectionately known as The Lost Words’ sibling) the spell singers have gained an exquisite new book from which to draw inspiration for a second musical collaboration. They will gather for an immersive residency in the Lake District in the week leading up to the live streamed concert at the NHM, and those listening will be able to hear the newly composed Red Fox music that will accompany Jackie’s live painting.
This performance will be woven through with original artwork by Jackie Morris (winner of the 2019 CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal and Shadower’s Choice Awards for The Lost Words) who will have lived and breathed the creation of the music with the Spell Songs group at the residency. With her visionary artistic skill, Jackie will paint live alongside the musicians, conjuring creatures using inks, paints and poetry amid the intricate and ornate architecture of this shrine to the natural world.
The NHM’s Urban Nature Project is a key contributor to building our relationship with the natural world. After all, as Robert Macfarlane explains “Cities can be miraculous sites of biodiversity. London is home to more than 15,000 species; more than half of its area is either green (woodland/parks) or blue (rivers, lakes and reservoirs) on the map. Nature is vital to the city’s well-being, and the future of nature in this country will be made or broken in part in our cities”.
Nature lovers, Museum supporters, Spell Songs and Lost Words fans around the world can watch this exclusive Spell Songs event STREAMED LIVE from 8.10pm on Tuesday 27 April from the Natural History Museum’s Hintze Hall. To join the concert or for updates, please visit here.
Production: JSL Productions
Contact: Caroline or Adam Slough
Tel: 01432 277 463 / 07801 943983
The Natural History Museum is both a world-leading science research centre and the most visited natural history museum in Europe. With a vision of a future in which both people and the planet thrive, it is uniquely positioned to be a powerful champion for balancing humanity’s needs with those of the natural world.
It is custodian of one of the world’s most important scientific collections comprising over 80 million specimens. The scale of this collection enables researchers from all over the world to document how species have and continue to respond to environmental changes - which is vital in helping predict what might happen in the future and informing future policies and plans to help the planet.
The Museum’s 300 scientists continue to represent one of the largest groups in the world studying and enabling research into every aspect of the natural world. Their science is contributing critical data to help the global fight to save the future of the planet from the major threats of climate change and biodiversity loss through to finding solutions such as the sustainable extraction of natural resources.
The Museum uses its enormous global reach and influence to meet its mission to create advocates for the planet - to inform, inspire and empower everyone to make a difference for nature. We welcome over five million visitors each year, our digital output reaches hundreds of thousands of people in over 200 countries each month and our touring exhibitions have been seen by around 30 million people in the last 10 years.
‘Walk through the world with care my love
And sing the things you see….’
Praise for The Lost Words: Spell Songs
"the art, the music, the sheer, ravishing beauty of the language... one of the greatest concerts we've ever had at Hay." Peter Florence, Festival Director, Hay International Literary Festival
“rapturously received” BBC Music Magazine *****
“a work of vision and brilliance” fRoots *****
“complex and beautiful and an absolute joy from start to finish” RnR *****
“exquisite musical re-imaginings and settings … an outstanding production and keepsake”
“beguiling”- The Sunday Times****
“a delightful homage to nature” The Times****
“A brave and magical creation” The Observer