Bird Flight Patterns and Music – An Educational Exploration with the New Bedford Symphony Orchestra

Mar 8, 2021

What does it take for a symphony orchestra’s educational program to reach from New Bedford, Massachusetts to as far west as Juneau, Alaska and as far east as Scotland, United Kingdom, and be featured in the National Audubon Magazine and the American Recorder Society’s magazine? On March 23, 2021, you can find out. That is when the New Bedford Symphony Orchestra (NBSO) releases it's 2021 Learning in Concert virtual program entitled Bird Flight Patterns and Music. The program will be viewed by thousands of children in over 90 schools in Massachusetts and 20 other states. In addition, the avian theme of this year’s program has caught the attention of over 17 Audubon Chapters in 14 states, including Alaska, Texas, Oregon, California, Florida, New York, Nevada, Delaware, and many more. They are providing the program to local schools in their areas and sharing it with their local chapter members, as well. As a result, the NBSO’s program is also being featured in the Spring issue of the National Audubon Magazine. 

“Every year the Learning in Concert program focuses on a concept from science, math, literacy, or a non-musical art form and pairs it with a shared concept in classical music,” explained NBSO Education Director Terry Wolkowicz, who designs a new program each year. “One year we explored gravity in space and gravity in musical tonality so we partnered with an astronomer from MIT. Another year we explored balance in an ecosystem and balance in orchestration and we partnered with a researcher from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute. This year it’s bird flight patterns and melodic and rhythmic motion, so we’ve partnered with Xavi Bou, photographer for the Ornitographies Project, the Buttonwood Park Zoo and their popular residents, Sam Claggett and Cisco the Great Horned Owl, and Stanford University’s David Lentink from the Bird Flight Robotics Lab.”

Ms. Wolkowicz continued, “I have to admit, I never quite know where my ideas are going to take us, but they always seem to end up somewhere unexpected and interesting, and fun too! This approach is really the key to being able to engage schoolchildren and get them excited and eager to learn by creating authentic connections between music and the world around them.”

In the concert video, Ms. Wolkowicz leads the viewers on an exploration of five bird flight patterns used by various bird species and pairs each with a piece of classical music that moves in the same motion as each flight pattern. Both the New Bedford Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of Music Director Yaniv Dinur, and the NBSO Education Trio perform in the program. The concert will include the world premiere of Jamie Allen’s Nightingale Concerto with recorder soloist, Heloise Degrugillier, Derek Bermel’s Murmurations: Swarming Rome, and music by Mendelssohn, Haydn, Vaughan Williams, and Strauss.

The virtual concert program is accompanied by an extensive online curriculum of music, art, writing, photography and science lessons, activities, and educational games with additional musical performances and composer interviews.

Preview videos of the program and information on how to access the program can be found on the education page of the NBSO website, The preview videos can also be found at the NBSO’s YouTube channel: Bird Flight Patterns and Music Concert Video Preview:, and Bird Flight Patterns and Music Online Curriculum Preview:

For more information, contact Terry Wolkowicz at

The NBSO is a professional orchestra that annually presents a concert series of classical and pops music as well as an outstanding chamber music series. In addition, the NBSO’s innovative and nationally recognized educational programs reach thousands of students each year in local schools and through open access online. The NBSO is dedicated to building a community of music in the South Coast. Visit today!