Trees, Walls, Cities (2015)

Creative music workshops with children and young people in Dubrovnik, Trebinje and Mostar, September 2015.


“Trees, Walls and Cities” is a newly commissioned song cycle that links the cities of Derry (Northern Ireland), London (UK), Utrecht (the Netherlands), Berlin (Germany), Vienna (Austria), Dubrovnik (Croatia), Nicosia (Cyprus) and Jerusalem (Israel) in creative reconciliation.

City walls not only exist as ancient, originally defensive but now potentially inclusive structures which surround people, but also have sprung up more recently in modern, ugly and practically exclusive forms.

This new song cycle (a modern day Winterreise), comprising eight songs written by local composers in partnership with local poets, reflects going through and growing beyond such barriers between divided peoples. The theme running through the texts will be Trees – symbolic of freedom, life, nourishment, environment, building and travel.

Each city in the cycle’s journey calls to mind a particular tree connection, for example, both Derry and Dubrovnik are derived from ‘oak grove’ in their own traditional tongues, and, for the City of London, the Mulberry not only relates to the Pyramus and Thisbe theme
of the song, but also to the Mulberries planted in the gardens of Drapers’ Hall (for the failed purpose of developing silk worms in the City). With Utrecht there is Anne Frank’s Chestnut, and the reference to the Linden tree in Berlin permeates the cycle through musical references to Schubert’s Lindenbaum from Winterreise.

The song cycle is bought together by an interlocking suite of musical material, composed by the multi-linguist and international humanitarian, Nigel Osborne, which creates a coherent journey between the styles and characters of the songs and cities.

Day 1: Mostar

Day 2: Dubrovnik

Day 3: Trebinje

Day 4: Dubrovnik

Day 5: Trebinje

Day 6: Mostar

Day 7: Mostar

Day 8: Mostar

Day 9: Trebinje

Day 10: Mostar

Day 11: Dubrovnik (Concert)

Day 1: 1st workshop in Mostar, Muzička Škola.

(Photos courtesy of Marko Simić)

And two of the songs made during the workshop:

Proljeće u Mostaru

Grad Sunca

2nd workshop in Mostar with members of Mostarski Teatar Mladih (Mostar Youth Theatre)

(Photos courtesy of Marko Simić)

Extract from the workshop:

And here is the sheet music of the song “Hajrudin”:

Day 2: 1st workshop in Dubrovink, Umjetnička Škola Luke Sorkočevića.


Song, “Ljepota Grada Dubrovnika”, composed with student Antun Spajić during our workshop:

Day 3: 1st workshop in Trebinje Music School

Song “Sunca u Trebinju” made with the students:

Day 4: 2nd workshop at the Umjetnička Škola Luke Sorkočevića

Excerpts from the 2nd workshop at the Umjetnička Škola Luke Sorkočevića, Dubrovnik.

Antun Spajić improvises at the piano:

Excerpt from improvisation by Toma Širok (piano), Nina Zvone (cello) at the start of the workshop:

And Toma Širok, Nina Zvone at the end of the workshop:

Day 5: 2nd workshop in Trebinje

2nd workshop in Trebinje with students and viola teacher Milica Dimitrić.

Student composition for violin, piano, guitar and accordion, first version:

And final version:

And a composition for piano quintet, featuring Milica Dimitrić on viola.
Version 1, without viola:

Version 2, with viola:

Day 6: 2nd workshop in Mostar

2nd workshop in Mostar. Children working on their songs.

Excerpt from song by children in photos above:

Excerpt from song by children in photos above:

Day 7: 3nd workshop in Mostar

3rd workshop in Mostar Music school. Children continue to work on their songs.

And the 2nd workshop with members of Mostar Teater Mladih, preparing their dramatic presentation of their song “Hajrudin”

Day 8: 1st workshop at Glazbena Škola, Mostar.

Sunce u Trebinju, played by Luka Raspudić (trumpet) and Nina Petković (piano) from Mostar.

Day 9: 3rd workshop in Trebinje

Piano quintet:


Sketch of viola solo.

Final version of viola solo (pdf):


Day 10: 2nd workshop at Glazbena Škola, Mostar

Improvisation by Luka Raspudić (trumpet) and Nina Petković (piano).