Trees, Walls, Cities, is a newly commissioned song cycle for the Brodsky Quartet and mezzo-soprano Loré Lixenberg, linking Derry~Londonderry, the City of London, Utrecht, Berlin, Vienna, Dubrovnik, Nicosia and Jerusalem in creative reconciliation. The songs, written by local composers and poets, are brought together in 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.
City walls not only exist as ancient, originally defensive but potentially inclusive structures which surround people, but also have sprung up more recently in modern forms to keep people apart. This new song cycle (in the manner of a modern-day Winterreise) contains eight songs written by local composers in partnership with local poets or using earlier texts, and reflects the transcendence of and growth beyond such barriers that divide people. A theme running through the texts will be trees – symbolic of life, freedom, nourishment, environment, building and peace. Each walled city in the cycle calls to mind a particular tree. Both Derry and Dubrovnik are derived from ‘oak grove’ in their own traditional tongues. In the City of London, there are historic mulberries, including trees planted in the garden of Drapers’ Hall (with the intention of developing silk worms in the City), where the world première of this new work will take place. The Linden trees of Berlin are noted in musical references to Schubert’s Der Lindenbaum from Winterreise