"If you have never heard a nightingale before this will bring magic into your life" – Alan Davey (Controller, BBC Radio 3)
Each year, for a few months from mid-April, a few thousand nightingales fly to the southern UK from Africa. They can be heard in just a small number of special locations, taking up songful residence after dusk. The territorial males serenade loyally each night for no more than six weeks among the blackthorn and forest margins, giving unbelievable privilege to those who know where to go.
In 2014, folk singer, song collector and nature lover Sam Lee began these reverent celebrations of this endangered bird through a BBC Radio 4 documentary. It won huge admiration, became ‘Pick of the Year’, and prompted a live reconnection of Sam’s fund of folk songs with this much admired but little heard songster. As the project grew, invited stars of the classical, world music and jazz communities came to play and by 2016, with BBC Radio 3 broadcasting the experience nightly, it had developed into an annual sell out excursion.
In 2017 the project expanded beyond our original camp in Sussex to include three new sites across southern England, and bring together some of the country's finest musicians and singers – many returning for another ‘dose’.