RELEASED: ‘Knepp Dawn’ track

Illustration by Sandra Reeves

Damian Montagu and Hazel Reeves: Bucolic composer and acclaimed sculptor release new music inspired by nature

Classical chart-topping artist Damian Montagu and sculptor and field recording artist Hazel Reeves announce the release of their collaborative single, Knepp Dawn, on Saturday 4 May, to mark International Dawn Chorus weekend.

Hazel is crouching over her laptop in the Knepp scrubland before sunrise, doing some livestreaming of the dawn chorus

The composition for piano was inspired by the Knepp Estate, in Sussex, where Hazel regularly records soundscapes of the burgeoning biodiversity now thriving in the rewilded 3,500-acre nature park. The single follows the success of Damian’s chart- topping classical album In a South Downs Way, a collaboration with actor Hugh Bonneville, and his second LP A Walk into Reverie.

In celebration of the sanctuary the estate now provides for several endangered wildlife species, the single’s release is timed to highlight International Dawn Chorus Day – ‘a worldwide celebration of nature’s greatest symphony’ according to The Wildlife Trusts. 

“I’m so delighted that Knepp’s dawn chorus has inspired such a beautiful tribute of music and art from Damian and Hazel. The human response to what we hear in nature is a celebration in itself and reminds us that we, too, are part of nature’s tapestry,” says Isabella Tree, co-owner of Knepp Wilding.

According to Damian it was Hazel’s recordings of morning birdsong that compelled him to write the track: “When I heard her amazing and inspiring recordings of Knepp’s dawn chorus, including the very distinctive isolated sounds of nightingales, cuckoos, turtle doves, and white storks, it inspired me to compose a piano piece that could sit in the soundscape itself and celebrate the glorious natural sounds. Hazel and I worked very closely together to build a kind of rhythm out of these rare bird sounds. Plato once said that music gives ‘wings to the mind’ and ‘flight to the imagination’. I hope that ‘Knepp Dawn’ will enable listeners to fly away for a few minutes of calm in a beautiful place like Knepp at dawn.”

Hazel, whose sculptural works include Manchester’s statue of Emmeline Pankhurst and King’s Cross’ Sir Nigel Gresley, and whose sound recordings have previously led to collaborations with the international Reveil project and the British Library Sounds Archive, adds: “Knepp’s dynamic, rebounding ecosystem is a story of hope, showing how nature can bounce back if we let it. By releasing this piece of music and soundscape, we are able to bring the sounds of Knepp to so many more people that may not have the opportunity to visit Knepp in person.”

With wonderful artwork by renowned local Sussex artist Sandra Reeves, Knepp Dawn gives us hope that our planet can be in some part restored with love, respect and care. It will be released in digital formats on the Moonshot Music label, supported by Absolute Label Services.

Photo of Damian, by Ed Bagley, photo of Hazel, by Sandra Reeves.