Trees.Listen is a collaboration, a sound exploration, 9 compositions, 9 recordings, an album and a message co-created by composers Sharlene Wallace and Frank Horvat.

Through co-composed music for the Celtic lever harp and fixed electronics, Sharlene and Frank are bringing together their unique relationships and experiences with music, sound, genre, creativity and the environment. Trees.Listen will be a collection of nine 5-minute compositions for (Celtic) Harp and Electronics, a sound quest envisioned to connect us to trees, a fundamental part of human existence and survival on this planet.

This music suite is inspired by the enlightening book, To Speak for the Trees, by acclaimed medical biochemist and botanist, Dr. Diana Beresford-Kroeger. Diana has a unique experience of western scientific knowledge and traditional knowledge from the ancient world. Orphaned in Ireland in her youth, she was educated by elders who instructed her in the Brehon knowledge of plants and nature.

The music that Sharlene and Frank are composing is based on different letters from the ancient Celtic Ogham script, a medieval alphabet that named each letter for a type of tree (this is how important trees were to the ancient Celts). The nine letters chosen are the seven music notes A B C D E F G and H (B-flat). There will be two compositions written for the letter D which is for the mighty Oak tree. 

Using the birch tree, here is how it works!
The letter B is for the Celtic word, “Beith”, which means “Birch”. The Birch composition will include a predominance of the musical note B throughout the composition. The connection of the musical pitch B and of the birch tree’s essence, information and stories that Diana has shared about each tree, will give each composition its own unique musical character, just as each tree does.

Sharlene and Frank are implementing a unique multi-phase process to create this new music.

Phase 1 is to record samples/loops of Sharlene with their collaborator, Jean Martin. This began last Fall for BIRCH and HAZEL.

In April 2023, the loops for OAK and PINE were recorded, this time with Sharlene’s beautiful new custom-made Mark Norris lever harp from Scotland.

In the Fall 2023, recording of the loops (samples) was completed for the remaining 5 trees.

Phase 2, Frank uses these samples as the foundation for composing electronic bed-tracks.

Phase 3, Sharlene composes a live harp part on top of those bed-tracks.

Phase 4, Sharlene and Frank convene to fine-tune the compositions and record a demo recording.

Phases 2 to 4 for BIRCH and HAZEL were completed November 2022, and in August 2023 Sharlene presented the world premiere performance of BIRCH and HAZEL in Wells BC accompanied by projections of photography by Sharlene.

Sharlene and Frank are excited to commence Phases 2 to 4 for the remaining seven pieces this winter. Following that, they plan to enter the studio to record the live harp parts in January, with hopes of releasing the album sometime in the Fall of 2023.

…to date, the process and outcome has been magical.

NEWS! Sharlene & Frank are over-the-moon exhilarated to have received a generous grant from the Canada Council for the Arts to complete the process of co-composing, recording, and sharing our suite of pieces for solo lever harp and fixed electronics! The CCA’s funding complements the previous funding we received from the Ontario Arts Council and a group of Sharlene’s students who commissioned one of the nine pieces, ‘Oak’. We are so grateful to all of our funders as their support now allows us to complete the project in its entirety!

Sharlene and Frank hope that Trees.Listen supports Diana’s vision that trees are a fundamental part of our existence and survival on this planet and that they are something to be worshipped and protected. We have been fortunate to receive Diana’s enthusiastic support for our endeavour. She is a passionate individual who envisions a better world, with more trees! We’re looking forward to partnering with Diana once the album is released and Sharlene presents live performances.

Letter/Musical NoteCeltic tree nameEnglish tree name
AAilm Pine
DDairOak (x2)
Nine compositions. Nine trees.

Trees offer us the solution to nearly every problem facing humanity today, from defending against drug resistance to halting global temperature rise…They do so even when we can’t or won’t hear them. We once knew how to listen. It’s a skill we must remember.” – Diana Beresford-Kroeger

contact us

Frank Horvat, composer, electronics
Sharlene Wallace, composer, harp player
Jean Martin, recording engineer