Extinction Rebellion: A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square


29 April 2019
18:00 - 21:00


Berkeley Square, Mayfair

hosted by

The Nest Collective

A musical Extinction Rebellion in collaboration with ‘Sam Lee’s Singing with Nightingales’ & The Nest Collective.

Poets, musicians and nature lovers join together to perform the most romantic rebellion. Using the wonders of technology, XR and The Nest Collective will be rewilding Berkeley Sq with the song it is most famous for. Through synchronised streaming of the Nightingale’s mesmeric yet seldom heard courtship song via mobile phones and mobile speakers, our pop-up action will fill the park and surrounding streets with the song of a creature nearing extinction on this island. The birdsong will be accompanied by offerings from musicians, singers, poets and anyone who wants to collaborate with the finest singer in the world.

In the midst of the heightened attention to climate change and environmental catastrophe we want to bring people together in celebration of the musical beauty of the natural world. This central London rewilding action aims to bring poetic focus to the shocking demise of our own native species and give Londoners the opportunity to hear a once ubiquitous songbird, now near extinct in the UK, in its mythic notional home.

Written in 1939, this renowned ballad tells of the impossible moment when a now critically endangered nightingale (Luscinia megarhynchos) sings in Mayfair’s famous garden square. Nightingales have not been heard in Central London, let alone Mayfair, for several hundred years. However, through the magical power of people and technology this April 29th, XR, Sam Lee, The Nest Collective and a pop-up flash mob of nature enthusiasts, musicians and supporters will gather to rewild nightingale song back into Berkeley Square. We invite the public to use their 3G connected smartphone device or tablet and a mobile bluetooth / wired speaker to stream the birdsong to be amplified in a sonic rewilding of the square.

Every Spring for the last five years, folk singer and nature conservationist Sam Lee has been running intimate ‘Singing With Nightingales’ concerts in the woods of Sussex, Kent, Essex and Gloucestershire, bringing audiences into ‘ear tinglingly close proximity’ to wild birds while in their season of renowned courtship song. Musicians and singers collaborate with the bird in a sublime duet as the finale of a woodland/campfire experience with conservation awareness at its heart. The event began as an homage to the BBCs pioneering first ever live broadcast in 1924, with Beatrice Harrison famously dueting on cello with a nightingale. Nearly 100 years later, Sam continues that tradition with contemporary players.

The Nest Collective will broadcast nightingale song to Berkeley Square at 6pm on Monday April 29th. Attendees will be invited to stream and play the song through their mobile phones via a dedicated url. Musicians are encouraged to bring their instruments, cellists especially, to make music with this natural improviser. We also encourage poetry and prose celebrating the natural wonders of our land. All musicians should play unamplified – only the birdsong will be amplified.

This intervention is happening at the end of Extinction Rebellion’s 2 week London Shutdown and will be a peaceful sit down affair


Gather in Berkeley Sq at appointed location for a first centralised hour of songs and music with XR’s mobile sound system. We will also be playing the RSPBs ‘Let Nature Sing’ single, released on the 26th April. This composition is made of pure red-list endangered bird song and is aiming for that weeks chart as a first ever ‘Getting Nature To #1’

Communal sing along of ‘A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Sq’ & teaching of ‘Bon Soir’ – short French round about the nightingale.

Audience members will disperse across the Sq and surrounding street in groups to stream their live feeds through mobile phone speakers, rewilding the entire site with birdsong.
Nightingale song can be streamed from this webpage www.thenestcollective.co.uk/nightingale Musicians, bards and poets will pollinate these mini gatherings to share their music. Groups can also recite their own writings or choose from the selection of suggested nature based prose listed on the web link.

Suggested time for carriages back to our nests

What to bring:

Your picnics, blankets, cushions, fully charged mobile phones, laptops, tablets, battery packs, speakers and minirigs, umbrellas, sunglasses, banners, warm clothes, water bottles & drinks, songs and poems to share, candles an open heart and your listening ears.

For more information please see www.thenestcollective.co.uk/nightingale

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