For large ensemble


16 min.


pic, ob, cl+bcl, cbsn, hn, trp, trb, perc, pno, 2vln, vla, vlc, cb


Commissioned by
Gaudeamus Muziekweek


Premiered by
Asko|Schönberg ensemble
Conducted by Bas Wiegers
Sep 8 2019
Gaudeamus Muziekweek 2019
Hertz – TivoliVredenburg, Utrecht, Netherlands

Roaming the earth as well as soaring up high in the sky, birds symbolize freedom. I wanted to embrace this quality by not limiting myself to only one aesthetics or means of expression, in stead allowing my imagination to flourish freely.

Embracing bird as a powerful metaphor for a range of moods and emotions, I focused on capturing the essence of the bird. I was particularly interested in the strangeness and almost ugliness some birds depict in their appearance, sounds, movements and behavior and aimed to translate these into musical characters.

I visioned a kind-of super-bird, free of any constrictions, forceful and arrogant, vigorous

and self-assured, while simultaneously capable of morphing into different disguises portraying the versatility of the bird all the way from big and bold to cute and graceful, from whimsical and flamboyant to rough and grotesque.

Furthermore, I was fascinated by the absurd imagery of lek mating by rare birds in Papua New Guinea. Passages of the music are inspired by the peculiar practice’s dance-like movements, twists and turns. Swift shifts from one character or style to another in the music allowed me to play with extremes, embrace caricatures and even clichés while maintaining the element of surprise.

Past performances

Oct 18 2022
Uuden Ajan Ensemble
Conducted by Tapio von Boehm
Ritarihuone, Helsinki, Finland

Sep 8 2019
Asko|Schönberg ensemble
Conducted by Bas Wiegers
Hertz – TivoliVredenburg, Utrecht, Netherlands

Sheet Music

Schott Music
Schott Music GmbH & Co. KG
Weihergarten 5
55116 Mainz
+49 6131 246-0

Press Quotes

“More interesting was Bird, the new piece that Sebastian Hilli, winner of the 2018 Gaudeamus Award, composed for Asko|Schönberg. It is a cheerful amalgam of loud staccato blasts from the ensemble, intersected with sudden silences. Hilli creates a lively question-and-answer game that bounces from jazzy percussion and big-band brass to cheery marching band sounds and exhilarating poppy dance music. The percussionist plays a brilliant solo on bass drum and hi-hat, the pianist pounds out roaring chords on her grand piano.

A star role is reserved for the solo trumpeter, Bird turning out to be a sort of trumpet concert in disguise. Trumpeter Bas Duister has an unprecedentedly beautiful tone full of colour shades, and effortlessly produces the highest notes in virtuoso melodies. The work ends with a parody of the endlessly repeated chords with which classical composers like Beethoven conclude their pieces. Every time you think it’s over, a squeaking piccolo screams for attention. A wonderful piece that sends you home with a cheerful feeling. Gaudeamus could not have wished for a better finale to its 69th edition.”
Thea Derks, Sep 10 2019


The premiere of Bird, performed by Asko|Schönberg, conducted by Bas Wiegers: