Singing with Nightingales comes to venues across the UK

Wild nightingales will be among the guest singers joining folk star Sam Lee for Spring concert series

Thursday 19 April to Tuesday 29 May 2018

Mercury Music nominated folk star Sam Lee presents a unique series of concerts featuring music-making, storytelling, offering a rare chance to hear the courtship songs of wild nightingales, in collaboration with world-renowned musicians Woodlands near Ashford, Kent and Lewes, East Sussex and at venues in Bristol, Bury, Cambridge, Exeter, Hay-on-Wye, Leeds, London & Norwich

Wild nightingales will be singing as far north as Yorkshire, when the roots music promoter The Nest Collective adds a new twist to folk star Sam Lee’s acclaimed SINGING WITH NIGHTINGALES events this Spring: a tour of indoor venues and theatres. Produced by The Nest Collective and part of the RSPB National Nightingale Festival, the events help to raise awareness of the birds’ dwindling populations.

Nest Collective founder Sam Lee, a Mercury Prize nominee and BBC Folk Awards winner, has been hosting SINGING WITH NIGHTINGALES outdoors in south east England’s woodlands since 2015. The campfire events – happening this year at Green Farm Kent, near Ashford, and in private woods near Lewes/Brighton in East Sussex – are however, only open to 25 people at a time.

So this Spring, SINGING WITH NIGHTINGALES is going on tour, using a live broadcasting feed from Knepp Castle to bring the sounds of the wild woods into venues. SINGING WITH NIGHTINGALES LIVE is taking place in Leeds (April 19), London (April 28), Bury (May 3), Cambridge (May 7), Norwich (May 8), Exeter (May 9), Bristol (May 22) and the Hay Festival (May 29), with support from Arts Council England. An accessible evening of music, storytelling and duets involves a changing cast of world, folk, jazz and classical musicians and one of the finest voices in Nature, bringing this rare opportunity to hear the nightingales sing to a much wider audience.

Nightingales winter in Africa but migrate to woodlands in Europe and the Middle East each summer to find mates and nest, so their mating song can only be heard during the spring courtship season. Surveys show that the number of birds visiting England has fallen by 91% in the past 40 years and is now mostly restricted to south east and eastern counties. Now on the UK’s Red List of species, only 5500 pairs remain, with their best remaining site, Lodge Hill in Medway, Kent, seriously under threat of development.

Sam Lee explains: “The song of the nightingale has been captivating hearts and imaginations for thousands of years but chances to hear it are becoming increasingly rare because the numbers visiting Britain have fallen so sharply. The idea of complementing our outdoor events with an indoor series came about from witnessing the joyous responses of our campfire audiences.

In venues, we’ll have to forego the fire, the feast and the hushed walk but by using a live audio feed we’ll bring the sounds of the night-time woods into the concert hall. I want to let so many more people, including those who live far away from nightingale haunts, hear the birds performing their magical courtship arias as they actually happen.”

Among the vocalists/instrumentalist joining Sam Lee for the series will be singers Carleen Anderson and Barbara Dickson, piper Jarlath Henderson , mbira player Chartwell Dutiro, folk fiddler Caoimhín O Raghallaigh, clarinetist David Rothenberg, cellist and baritone Matthew Sharp and cellist Alice Zawadzki.

Places at the campfire events in Kent and East Sussex start from £59 each and include a 2-course backwoods feast, drinks and booking fees. Tickets for the venue-based events start at £12. For more details, including a full list of artistes and booking links, see: