The Pleasure of the Dawn Chorus: Conserving the Pandemic Soundscape

Project Description

The song of the dawn chorus is an invitation back to a conversation with the non-human inhabitants with whom we share our cities. 


Of the many unforeseen consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, one was a greater awareness of the urban nature in our midst. As the lockdown forced us to remain apart, we became more aware of the wildlife around us, particularly urban birds and their songs. This project aims to preserve this awareness, so that as we come together once more, we also maintain our new relationship with the non-humans with whom we share our cities.


This project will collect recordings of the urban dawn chorus, taken from parks and backyards across the GTA, in collaboration with University of Toronto faculty and students in music, wildlife biology, and ecology and religion. These recordings will be musically analyzed and transcribed, inspiring a new composition that reflects upon the pleasure of hearing birdsong. 


Musically, the themes of COVID-19 and rediscovered biophany—displeasure and disconnection, pleasure and reconnection—will be explored and contrasted in the composition. Not only will the recording express the joy of reconnecting with nature’s music, it will also explore the hope that this renewed connection can be maintained and strengthened as we emerge from the pandemic. 


The project will culminate in a lecture recital, and music and educational videos, involving faculty and students from across the disciplines, sharing their work on bioacoustics, musical composition, eco-spirituality and vocal performance.

The project will begin in autumn 2021.