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Posted January 16, 2020

Choral - secular >>>

3 Billion Birds

Listen to "Ferry" performed by the Vashon Island Chorale

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About "3 Billion Birds"

This choral piece was sparked by the September 2019 New York Times article about the disappearance of 3 billion birds in North America in the past 50 years.  Combining this theme of large scale destruction with small scale efforts to nurture our wild bird populations, specifically the sanctuary of my own back yard, where bird feeders and shelter abounds, "3 Billion Birds" offers many levels of performance, from a simpler version based on the notes on the score, to a more complex interpretation where the choir is afforded the opportunity to improvise. Two aleatoric sections offer the choir director scope to be creative, whether it is using half of the choir to create sounds of an empty sky / bird "graveyard" or creating a "canopy of chatter" using spoken words, sung names of bird species, or actually making bird sounds, or a combination of all of these.  The piano accompaniment may also be adapted to four hands in order to cover the "flight notes" of the opening and third sections, or a harp could add these notes to a two-handed accompaniment. Alternatively, a competent pianist could play the "flight notes" and omit some of the additional bass notes.  

"3 Billion Birds" is a great addition to an Earth Day program.  The recording is a rough demo using my imagination. The song will be premiered by the South Seattle College Community Choir on March 15, 2020..

For SATB and piano
Lyrics by Pamela Hobart Carter
Music by Bronwyn Edwards

Performed by:

South Seattle College Community Choir


Three billion birds in fifty years, gone.

Skies empty out,
Who is taking wing?
Who is missing?
Who will control pests?
Who will pollinate flowers?
Who will spread seeds?
Who will regenerate forests?

Ev'ry field plowed under, ev'ry wetland drained
Loses birds, feathered friends go.

May they thrive like the vireo!

Where there are no trees, I'll plant native seeds for you,
Where grasses grow, I'll allow meadow homes for you,
Welcome, all feathered ones, welcome to your bird songs.

(Come to my back yard.)

Hey songbirds, have you heard about my back yard?
There's fresh water, and shade and eats in my back yard.
There's room to rest your tired wings in my back yard.

Scores are available at
as printed copies or digital download.

View partial score (pages 1-6) in PDF format

Comments: is a catalogue of original music and arrangements by composer Bronwyn Edwards, with links to online sheet music sales at and
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