The National Trust has teamed up with artists’ group non zero one, composer James Bulley, and Heritage Open Days, to invite people wherever they are to experience the moment of dawn together through music.
On Saturday 16 May, an original live music score, inspired by the break of day and created in collaboration with five musicians, will be performed by them at their homes around the country and streamed online to accompany dawn across the UK.
With no date yet for the Covid-19 lockdown to end, and the separation it is causing for everyone through social distancing and self-isolation, DAWNS offers a moment of unity, a simple collective action to welcome in the day.
Using live streaming technologies, the music experience will enable people to tune in to the broadcast from their homes, in their gardens or from their balconies, alone, or with those they live with, and be connected to others around the country.
A narrator will welcome people as the first morning light hits John O’Groats in Scotland at 3.43am. The five musicians will then each begin to play their part as dawn reaches their particular location, building from a solo to a quintet as daylight sweeps across the country, ending with the last musician in Cornwall at 4.59am.
The public will be invited to experience nature awakening together by signing up at www.dawns.live, then on 16 May to find their favourite view of the sky from their lockdown location and listen to the music as light arrives across the UK.
The event is part of the National Trust’s year-long campaign to help people connect with nature in its 125th anniversary year, and DAWNS will create a moment of mass participation across the UK.
The idea for DAWNS was developed before the Covid-19 lockdown and is inspired by several National Trust and other sites across the UK where the musicians had planned to play, with members of the public able to see them live.
Now the musicians will perform from their own homes to trace the path of dawn in the same time zones as the five original sites. 
John Orna-Ornstein, Director of Culture & Engagement at the National Trust explains:
“In these uncertain times, as so many of us are restricted in our travel, and with social distancing or self-isolation, DAWNS offers a moment of celebration, a time for us to feel we are together even when we are apart.
“Dawn is a magical time to experience the natural world. It’s an opportunity to notice nature awakening, to see and listen to what’s around us, as night passes into day. We don’t know how long we will be continuing social distancing as a nation, but whatever the situation may be on 16 May, this will be a special morning, where people across the country, whether they always notice the dawn, or never have, can feel connected to one another and be united by music as they experience sunrise together.”
Cat Harrison, lead artist for DAWNS, says: “non zero one is so excited to undertake this commission for the National Trust as part of its 125th anniversary programme.
“In creating this piece, we have been inspired by the words of one of the Trust’s founders, Octavia Hill, who said ‘The need of quiet, the need of air… I believe the sight of sky and of things growing seem human needs common to all.’
“This is needed now more than ever and the original themes of DAWNS ‒ of togetherness, difference, nature and light ‒ have taken on an even more pertinent and powerful meaning. Though we may all be in our separate homes or gardens around the country, we can be together, experiencing different dawns.”
James Bulley, composer of DAWNS says: “Dawn and its slow transition has always been a pivotal and inspiring moment in my work.
“In the pieces that I have made, whether it be landscape compositions focussing on the organisms of the forest, or outdoor installations driven by real-time conditions, dawn represents a period of renewal, of difference, when nocturnal creatures disperse amongst the dawn chorus and the sun rises over the horizon, cloaking the landscape in light.
“Dawn has always felt a special moment to witness, something precious and fleeting that conveys an opportunity for new beginnings.”
DAWNS is a collaboration with Heritage Open Days (HODs), England’s annual festival of history and culture, supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery. It is the first time HODs have been part of an event outside the September festival.
Annie Reilly, Head of Producing, Heritage Open Days says:
“Heritage Open Days is all about extraordinary experiences that bring people together to connect to nature, heritage, history and each other. It’s a chance for people across the country to stop and notice the surprise and wonder of dawn.”
People can visit the DAWNS website to sign up and take part on the day and share images of their own unique dawns experience on Instagram and Twitter using #DawnsLive
For more information visit www.dawns.liveEnjoy more Kitchen Garden reading in the monthly magazine. Click here to subscribe.
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