Performed live by Treephonia Ensemble in collaboration with Rothko Collective

Andrew Zhou – director, conductor
Lucy Walsh – flute, piccolo, scrap metal flute
Ross Williams – oboe
Michelle Hromin – clarinet, scrap metal contrabass clarinet
Sophia Elger – alto saxophone
Holly Redshaw – bassoon
Devin Reddy – horn
Leon Human – violin
Anna Brown – violin
Dominic Stokes – viola
Joseph Barker – cello
Holly Little – bass
Lucie Cure – voice

Live recording by Oliver Bowring and Sophie Sparkes

Edited and mixed by Andrew Zhou

Treephonia: Live 2022 | October 1st | a two part day/night exploration of trees through music and performance

Day: Hammersmith Bridge / Barnes Trail, Ravenscourt Park, London
Night: Ilex Studio, London

In May, Treephonia commissioned 6 composers to write new acoustic works inspired by trees and our relationship with environment.

On October 1st, these works were world premiered at Treephonia: Live 2022 in west London, encompassing a free outdoor trail of live music throughout the day open to the local public and a sold-out evening concert.

Treephonia: Live 2022 was enjoyed by friends, family, Londoners, daily park-goers, supporters, locals, and visitors. Musicians and audiences shared spaces and places with trees and leaves, saplings and seeds – walking, breathing, listening, connecting, and exploring together. The innovative concert format encouraged engaging with music in unexpected ways and promoted listening to and observing the natural environment in unique acoustic spaces.

Live recordings of the performances are available to listen to now for free via Bandcamp.

notes from the composers:

Joanna Ward
a London plane tree hid me from the sun
for mixed ensemble

a London plane tree hid me from the sun is my piece for Treephonia and it is a simple nod to the specific lovely memories I have of exactly that: sweltering heat and plane trees protecting me and my friends. They are also especially beautiful to look up into and are unique to London, a place I am not from but now call home. The piece is also a continuation of ideas from my most recent ‘bean piece’ but transformed into ‘tree piece’: open scoring, semi-graphic notation, freedom for players to move and listen, but this time with plane tree shapes instead of bean shapes.”

Kiko Shao
The leaf says…
for flute, oboe, clarinet, horn, 2 violins, viola, cello

“The inspiration for this piece is from the beautiful commentary by a Buddhist monk reflecting on a tree leaf:
‘I asked the leaf whether it was frightened because it was autumn, and the other leaves were falling. The leaf told me, No. During the whole spring and summer, I was completely alive.’
This is just an imaginative commentary, but it sounds compelling to make me realise that there is a time to ‘do’ and there is a time to ‘be’. Life has its ups and downs, and while you are full of energy and motivated during your uptime, the downtimes are for reflection and rebirth, like the way new leaves grow.
This work is dedicated to the Treephonia: Live 2022 project, giving me a great opportunity to experience a musical journey to discover the deeper concepts of trees and our environment.”

Elisabet Dijkstra
Shy but connected
for string quartet & tape

“This piece explores the sentiment of ‘shy but connected’, inspired by a phenomenon that occurs among trees of the same species by which they create channel-like spacing between themselves and their neighbours in order to avoid brushing up against each other. The striking visual beauty of ‘canopy shyness’, known also as ‘crown shyness’, is quite absorbing – no more than trees in their perpendicular life, looking upwards they assume the personality of a vast map, or cracked earth or a meshwork of capillaries. The soundworld of this piece is quiet, simple and onomatopoeic of shyness – something that begins as a kind of static closeness. This evolves into a kind of movement that is much bigger than the four string players but involves a whole forest of interconnected activities and sounds, some incidental, some imagined, and some of which are not so audible or visible.”

Hangrui Zhang
Still and Growth
for scrap metal flute, oboe, scrap metal contrabass clarinet, 2 violins, viola, cello

Still and Growth is a work inspired by the abstract image of trees. While we often see trees as being still, the slow process of growing and forming the complex texture is intriguing for observation. The music describes these two opposite yet interconnected aspects. All the instruments come together to form a soundscape that is static and gradually developing.
This work also uses a couple of special woodwind instruments made by artist Andrew Scott. Made from recycled materials, these instruments are created in an unorthodox way and can produce sound that is unlike any classical instrument. I find the rusty and earthy sound from these special instruments works quite well in this subject. In the music, the instruments interact with various sounds and timbres created by classical instruments. The ensemble comes together to paint an image that resembles the color and texture of trees.”

Lucie Cure
La Muse des Cimes
for amplified voice & electronics, flute, 2 violins, viola, cello, bass
costume design by Yoanna Bochowski

“The Neo Mythological figure Muse of Peaks is a reflection of every Artist’s Creative Process.
The woodsticks that she collects, listens to, feels, throws away, carries on her, are the physical and metaphorical representation of the relation each artist maintains with their own Art.
A creator, a sculptor, a film maker, a musician, a fashion designer… all go through their own creative process… in order to understand better themselves, the world, and shape their creation.”

Eden Lonsdale
kigi no ibuki
for flute, oboe, clarinet, saxophone, bassoon, 2 violins, viola, cello, bass

“In kigi no ibuki (engl.: breathing trees), shimmering fields of sound are permeated by extended instrumental silences that invite the soughing trees to become an integral part of the compositional structure themselves.
Born from a great fascination with the aesthetics of traditional Japanese musics, the composed segments of this piece serve above all to frame and highlight the natural ambience of the spaces in-between. Sounds we are often barely conscious of take on deeply musical characteristics as the entire ensemble becomes an extension of the wind, mingling with it and gliding along it like swirls of colourful autumn leaves.”