Chicago-based flautist Tim Munro will join with musicians from the Australian National Academy of Music to perform John Luther Adams’ Ten Thousand Birds at the South Melbourne Town Hall in June. He spoke to Limelight about the challenges and pleasures of Adams’ immersive, avian score.

First of all, do you like birds?

I am an Australian living in Chicago, and I strongly associate birds with my wonderful homeland. For instance, every time I get on Skype with my mum and hear the Brissie birds in full-throated song, I feel a little pang of homesickness. And although I’m not a morning person, whenever I travel back to Australia, jet-lag often gets me up before the sun, so I sometimes sit on the veranda with a cup of tea and listen to the dawn chorus!

Tim Munro, Ten Thousand Birds Tim Munro. Photo © Joe Mazza/Brave Lux

How important is the natural environment in John Luther Adams’ work?

John (JLA for short!) lived in the wilds of Alaska for 40 years, and all of his works respond in one way or another to the natural world. Sometimes they mimic the sound of nature (birdsong, frog calls), sometimes they evoke ancient...