Silverman: The Song of the Trees

Sylvan Winds

Composer Faye-Ellen Silverman’s new choreographed work The Song of the Trees receives its world premiere on November 5, 2021, as part of Composers Concordance’s Woodwind “Motion” series. The Songs of the Trees is a three-moment work that features the Sylvan Winds joined by choreographer Max Pollak in its first performance. The concert takes place at the Greenwich House Music School in New York City.

Photo: Faye-Ellen Silverman

Silverman introduces us to her new piece. “During the pandemic, I’ve gone for many walks, noticing my surroundings in new ways. One aspect of nature that has dazzled me over and over is the shape of tree branches — so graceful and beautiful in their patterning. Each pattern is unique, even for the same species of trees. I still can’t stop looking at them and photographing them. I then read a book given to me by a good friend – Richard Powers’ “The Overstory.” This same friend [also] introduced me to Suzanne Simard’s book, ‘Finding the Mother Tree.’ Simard states that ‘trees are not simply the source of timber or pulp, but are a complex, interdependent circle of life; that forests are social, cooperative creatures connected through underground networks by which trees communicate their vitality and vulnerabilities with communal lives not that different from our own.”

Max Pollak, choreographer

She continues. “The Song of the Trees is a woodwind quintet in three short movements. This is also the second time that Max Pollak has choreographed my music. (Incidentally, Max is a former student who took a course with me at the Mannes School of Music’s Extension Division.) Last season, again via Composers Concordance, Max choreographed my chamber work Intertwining Clarinets. This season, while I didn’t directly collaborate with him, I sent Max a midi version of the work along with my program notes; and he created a dance piece that features him — along with two other dancers Tommy Wasiuta and Dario Natarelli — as the trees. This woodwind quintet is in three short movements. In the first movement, ‘The Majesty of the Branching Trees,’ instrumental parts cross and wind around each other, just as tree branches do. The second movement, ‘Low-lying Limbs,’ uses the lower ranges of the five instruments, including the piccolo’s unique sound in its low range. The final movement, ‘Dancing Beneath the Boughs,’ is based on some of the outdoor dances performed singly, and in groups, as people gathered outside to be social, yet safe from the pandemic.”

Upcoming: next month, December brings the premiere of Silverman’s newest vocal chamber work Reflections on a Distant Love in Geneva, Switzerland, performed by mezzo-soprano Veronique Valdes, Lyda Chen- Argerich (viola), and pianist Titta Carvelli.