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Christian Mason: The Singing Tree


The Singing Tree is an environmental cantata setting a remarkable new text by Paul Griffiths for five vocal soloists, a children’s choir, and a large contemporary music ensemble of 25 players. Taking trees as an inspiration, the music reflects on the very different (extended) timescale that they representhundreds or thousands of years, compared to the mere decades that we humans can enjoy. This idea of longer time spans is manifested in the piece through recurrent quotations from the Machaut motet Puis qu’en oubli; music from another time, yet still with us. The piece also considers our ongoing exploitation of trees, despite our absolute dependence on them for oxygen, shade, balanced ecosystems, and also for the beauty and mystery that they bring to the world. Beautifully expressing our moral responsibility towards the natural world, the last words are: »they have done what they could for us, they have done more than they should for us, now what may we do for them«.