Swan Song

Rautavaara, Messiaen, Erland Cooper

10 & 11 Oct

This event has passed.

For Light Night Leeds, step into a symphony in St John’s Churchyard as the trees come alive in music, birdsong and light.

The installation by Urban Projections and Opera North takes flight from Finnish composer Rautavaara’s Swans Migrating, in which swelling orchestral melody mixes with the sounds of whooper swans as they fly south. Follow the path through a forest of light, waxing and waning as it responds to the music in the trees.

Step 400 years back in time as you enter the ancient church of St John’s. Inside, sit back and be part of an intimate, total musical experience as Manchester Collective curates an immersive live performance of Olivier Messiaen’s epic Catalogue of the Birds. This unique and spectacular work for solo piano is a tribute to tawny owls, blackbirds, and kingfishers in all their hopping, soaring and flitting glory.

New music composed by Erland Cooper (The Magnetic North, Erland and the Carnival) specially commissioned by The Manchester Collective will be live-mixed between each of the thirteen movements of Messiaen’s work. Sharing the great French composer’s fascination with birds, Cooper took the avian life of his native Orkney as the inspiration for his debut solo album last year.

With the world’s bird populations facing extreme peril from climate change and loss of habitat, Swan Song is a series of love letters to our birds in music.



The installation will take place outside in St John’s Churchyard from 6-10pm, as well as inside St John’s Church from 7-10pm

In association with Churches Conservation Trust

Swan Song

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