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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. The aim of this project is 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 collected recordings of the urban dawn chorus, taken from parks and backyards across Toronto, in collaboration with University of Toronto faculty and students in music, wildlife biology, and ecology and religion. These recordings were 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—are explored and contrasted in the composition. The resulting composition expresses the joy of reconnecting with nature’s music, and 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 (see next section), and music and educational videos, involving faculty and students from across the disciplines, sharing their work on bioacoustics, musical composition, conservation, eco-spirituality and vocal performance