I feel very honoured to have been invited to contribute a variety of sounds to the New Forest National Park Authority’s New Forest Awakening Festival for the second year running, and also to compose the festival’s theme tune.
Forest Awakening Theme
I woke up one morning listening to the dawn chorus, and the thought struck me that it would be interesting if I could try to ‘conduct’ an orchestra of forest birds and animals, and have them sing or sound in perfect rhythm, and by the wonders of recording technology I’ve managed to do that within this composition, which aims to create an almost classical, English pastoral feel and evokes The New Forest waking up first thing in the morning. It became the track “Forest Awakening” and the theme for the festival…
The festival is a response to the climate and nature emergencies in the New Forest and ran for the first time in 2021, when the messages about the climate and nature emergencies reached 815,000 people, with almost 70,000 people engaged with the online posts or events.
Saturday Beside the Stream
The second of my sound pieces from the festival is an ambient piece called “Saturday beside the Stream.” Imagine relaxing with a favourite book, or taking a picnic beside one of The New Forest’s mesmerising and beautiful meandering streams. If you can’t be there in person, then perhaps this may serve as the next best thing. Absolutely designed to be dreamy. Drift away….
CPRE’s Hampshire Star Count took place during the festival. Starry skies are one of the most magical sights the countryside can offer. The trouble is, light pollution not only limits our views of these skies, but also disrupts wildlife’s natural patterns. Research shows that light pollution is now leaving fewer stars than ever visible to the naked eye, and so the CPRE (Campaign to Protect Rural England) asked for help to track how light levels are changing in Hampshire, and encouraged everyone to get together with family and friends between February and early March 2022 to help count the stars in the Orion constellation.
The New Forest Awakening Festival’s organisers used another of my ambient music pieces to promote this event. They said…. We thought we’d get you in the mood for stargazing with this beautiful ambient music composition called Starry Skies. Composer Dr. Clive Brooks of New Forest Sounds said: ‘We get some beautiful starry skies deep in The New Forest. I think there’s an awe-inspiring majesty to them, which I tried to capture with this composition.’
The New Forest is a very special place. More than 50% of the area is of international importance for nature, and some sites have the highest possible conservation status. It has the largest area of lowland heath in Western Europe, shaped by the free-roaming animals owned by commoners. Commoning is the traditional system of land management with rights attached to properties allowing people to turn ponies, cattle, sheep and pigs onto the open Forest.
The rare heathland and wetland habitats in the New Forest are havens for wildlife, some of which are declining in other parts of the UK. Ground-nesting birds such as the curlew, Dartford warbler and mystical nightjar can all be found in the New Forest. All six species of the UK’s native reptiles live here too, as well as 63% of Britain’s 24,000 types of insects, 75% of all dragonfly species and over 2,700 types of fungi.
The climate emergency is putting these fragile landscapes and habitats under threat, with hotter, drier summers and warmer, wetter winters changing nature’s balance in the future. The global crisis for nature is mainly due to land management practices, pollution and urban expansion. It is being worsened by a changing climate that is driving changes in the numbers and distribution of our wildlife species.
Land in the National Park is essential to mitigate climate change; sequestering and storing carbon, supporting wildlife, providing clean water and preventing flooding. Let’s take care of it together.