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Sunderland Repository records the research produced by the University of Sunderland including practice-based research and theses.

Nightingales and Honey

Jenkins, Hayley (2020) Nightingales and Honey. [Composition]

Item Type: Composition


Drawing upon our experiences of working with refugees and seekers of asylum, The Land of Nightingales and Honey (Jenkins & O’Connor, 2020) aims to illustrate the anxieties that refugees face once they have been displaced from their homeland. It is easy to assume that once in a camp or ‘safe’ country that people are content; however the state of limbo that a refugee faces and alienation from things that help to inform ones identity (such as food, language, landscape, family etc) can be as traumatic as the horrors from which they have fled.

Music is something that is always at danger of being lost in times of conflict as often oral traditions are never written down and it is something that has happened throughout history. In particular composer Sadie Harrison has, through her work, tried to notate the music of Afghanistan and collaborate with the Afghanistan National Institute of Music to assist orphaned children to learn musical instruments in order to keep the traditions alive, to keep their cultural heritage alive (Harrison, 2019). This sentiment is echoed by Cuardos in his article Songs of Sinjar (Cuardos, n.d) and is something that both Claire and I realised as part of our work with those seeking refuge- music is identity and is easily lost, amongst many other things that can be lost when people are displaced.

Therefore, Claire O’Connor wrote a libretto which was a dialogue between a female refugee and her inner-consciousness – providing scope to capture the tumult of feelings that person may feel in that situation. However, it was important that this piece wasn’t mournful but a navigation of emotions from fear, anxiety, love and hope. Having the two voices enables these emotions to come across strongly and take the audience on a journey of duality, the past journey to get to the camp and the journey into the future which is uncertain.

Certain decisions such as the character’s name Dilva, the names of the bread (babari, samoon and kalaneh) and the title are all designed to evoke the Kurdish culture.

PDF (Full Score for Soprano, Mezzo Soprano and Piano)
The Land of Nightingales and Honey FINAL.pdf - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial.

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More Information

Depositing User: Hayley Jenkins


Item ID: 14906
Official URL:

Users with ORCIDS

ORCID for Hayley Jenkins: ORCID iD

Catalogue record

Date Deposited: 15 Jul 2022 11:25
Last Modified: 16 Feb 2023 03:38


Author: Hayley Jenkins ORCID iD

University Divisions

Faculty of Arts and Creative Industries


Performing Arts > Music

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