One Small Bird

Ballad of the Red-Necked Phalarope

By Kate Stilitz & Jilly Jarman

This song cycle was inspired by the RSPB’s 2014 discovery of the migratory route of one of Britain’s rarest birds, the red-necked phalarope.

Facing huge obstacles, this tiny creature which weighs no more than a packet of crisps successfully crosses the Atlantic between Shetland and Peru every year. It passes through environments as diverse and challenging as the icy regions of the north and the storms of the Caribbean.

This little bird’s journey tells an inspiring story about strength and resilience in the face of harsh conditions, and of the unstoppable drive for survival among earth’s creatures.


Premiere at Royal Albert Hall June 2016
Haringey Schools’ Festival

The piece, commissioned specially for this event by Haringey Music Service, involved the borough’s youth symphony orchestra, big band, steel pan, guitar ensembles and youth choir Haringey Vox as well as junior instrumentalists and choirs from 48 Haringey schools. A group of young musicians from Lima, Peru also performed at the event.


Cumbria Music Hub, Sands Centre, Carlisle summer 2017

The cycle was performed by 400 North Cumbrian primary school children accompanied by Cumbria Youth Orchestra and BlueJam Youth Jazz ensemble.


South Lakeland, summer 2019

A third performance will take place in Kendal in July 2019. This project will involve South Lakeland primary schools and the Westmorland Youth Orchestra.


“The music makes you believe the story, it is so powerful and has such a distinctive story behind it that’s true. It’s about a small bird that’s doing it’s best and trying to achieve its goal, and eventually, it does”.
Lorna, Yr 5

Rokesly Primary, Haringey

“It was the most beautiful music and was an absolute joy to teach the children. They were instantly in love with the music, and the piece took them to a world that they hadn’t explored before.”
Laura Parfitt

Choir Leader, Weston Park Primary

“The children’s understanding of the natural world and other places in the world outside of our inner-city environment has been greatly enhanced by this beautiful project which has allowed them to connect with nature in an immersive manner”
Siobhan Barry

Assistant Headteacher, Tiverton Primary, Haringey

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