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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.