Director - Robert Hollingworth




Photo credit Matthew Brodie

Shaping the invisible (2018)

Adrian Williams (b.1956)


For Leonardo da Vinci

‘Creatures of the earth shall mount up among the stars’

‘Men from the most remote countries shall speak to one another, and shall reply’

Leonardo da Vinci


Listen! Bats on the evening air

sounding the dusk with cries too high to hear,

invisible scribbles on the sky. One fell,

broken, a heartbeat in the palm of your hand.


You probed its bones for the mystery of flight.

In your theorems’ thrumming drum of certainty,

before physics, before the miracle had a name,

you knew we’d free ourselves from gravity’s shackles,


break the chains that hold us to the ground,

loose the weight of footfall, foothold

for the hush and lift of air beneath our wings,

to lift and fly as arrows, as shooting stars.


And before we knew long-wave, how sound can ride

up, up to touch the ionosphere and return,

you predicted men would speak across oceans,

as bats in the evening sky, and you knew,


seeking the secret of flight in its engineered bones,

how we would lift ourselves on the same air.











Adrian Williams, winner of Menuhin and Guinness Prizes, and founder of the Presteigne Festival in Wales, has penned nine commissioned works for I Fagiolini.  ‘Shaping the invisible’ is his third collaboration with Gillian Clarke. He writes, 'My original thought was to use words from Gillian purely for their sound, but after exchanging ideas for quite some time her eventual poem came into focus for me, presenting inspirational opportunities to use various vocal techniques to which producer Adrian Hunter then added his own special magic, entirely in keeping with the spirit of the piece’. 






Gillian Clarke was National Poet of Wales 2008-2016. Awarded the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry 2010. Picador published Selected Poems in 2016. Her latest collection, Zoology, published by Carcanet, 2017. She writes: “When I picked up the pen to see what words will do, I kept in mind the two meanings of ‘sounding’: music, and space, as a choir sounding the volume of a building: and Leonardo’s hands probing the tiny body of the dead bat for the secret of flight. Working with a composer, while considering art and science, was a beautiful discipline. Adrian and I exchanged a few emails, images, lines, and the Leonardo I had studied for my long-ago Art A-level returned to thrill me again with his vast imagination.”




Gillian Clarke and Adrian Williams’ ‘Shaping the invisible’ was commissioned for this recording and funded by the IFCT with funds from the Golsoncott Foundation and the RVW Trust.

Glider / Wing Design

Leonardo da Vinci



Anna Crookes - soprano

Rebecca Lea - soprano 

Eleanor Minney - mezzo-soprano

Clare Wilkinson - mezzo-soprano

Matthew Long - tenor

Nicholas Hurndall Smith - tenor

Greg Skidmore - baritone

Charles Gibbs - bass

Nicholas Hurndall Smith


Credit Matthew Brodie


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