Ravens’ Cage

for piano and oboe

Ninfea Cruttwell-Reade

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for piano and oboe

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Composer Ninfea Cruttwell-Reade
Year of Composition 2016
Duration -
Categories (all composers) , , ,
Catalogue ID ce-ncr1rc1


‘The Ravens’ Cage’ is one of the oldest surviving artefacts in London Zoo. Designed by Decimus Burton, and constructed in 1829, the elegant aviary housed many distinctive birds during the nineteenth century, including ravens, exotic parrots and a pair of king vultures. In Western culture ravens were traditionally viewed as creatures of ill omen on account of their black plumage and diet of carrion. With the opening of the zoo to the public in 1847, the cage became a theatre for the predatory and the raptorial. Today the aviary is considered too small for its intended purpose, and exists as a remnant from a time when wild animals were paraded in cramped conditions for the pleasure of the public.

Ravens’ Cage (2016) was inspired by the idea of well-dressed Victorians walking around the cage and the strange, stilted movements of the creatures peering out from within. The composition attempts to capture the awkwardness of this mutual gaze. As one of the winners of the 2015 Royal Philharmonic Society Composition Prize, I was commissioned to write this work for the 2016 Presteigne Festival.

This work has been selected for inclusion in the New Oboe Music Project Collection. For more information on the Project please visit newoboemusic.org.