The Quicken Tree

Dee Isaacs had secured the funding and completed the massive amount of preperation work on her next project The Quicken Tree and now approached me again as a Live Theatre / Sound Projection consultant really. This was a big project, not only in terms of the size of the cast, made up of local school children and professional actors but also in the amount of area that we had to physically cover during the show as this would be a ‘follow the actors’ Promenade Performance with a musical twist.

Each scene was set in a different location throughout the Royal Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh. Radio mics to the rescue, well yes but not without interference brought on my the radio controlled sprinkler systems… A fantastic lesson to learn! In the end we went for multiple ‘sound pods’ for each scene, with their own mixer, playback and small audio effects rig. This approach also allowed us to record the mixer output, allowing the video team to use this audio feed for their side of production.

A wonderful uplifting project. A challenge, cold, wet and very much worth it.

Below was taken from Dee’s website here, but do please read on…

The Quicken Tree

Follow our night on a magical adventure through the Garden. Will he succumb to the dark forces of the Enchantress Error, or can the Fairy Queen save him from himself?

The Quicken Tree poster

The Quicken Tree was inspired by the second book of Edmund Spenser’s epic romance The Fairie Queen, first published in 1590, and written by Katherine Craik. The performance promenade took place in March 2011 at the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh.

This is the 5th in a series of highly successful shows that have been staged in the Garden and conceived by composer Dee Isaacs. Primary school children form the City of Edinburgh have worked with a team of University music students.

“Each group rehearsed their part separately coming together for intensive rehearsals as part of a team of 100 people who have created this performance. The performance is a real collaboration and sharing of vision and ideas but is is the children and students who have carried forward that vision with enthusiasm and great energy.” – Dee Isaacs

The Quicken Tree!
The Quicken Tree!
Lost are the woods,
Lost are the trees,
Lost are the flowers,
and pleasing melodies.

In one day, all things will pass –
Of mortal life the leaf, the
bud, the flower.
In one day, all things must pass.
But let us go, while weather
serves, and wind.

Rime of the Ancient Mariner

DEE ISAACS, composer, performer, animateur, and lecturer contacted me to deal with the live sound side of the project. We were to perform and record in the Queen’s Hall in Edinburgh, Scotland. This was the first time that I’d worked with Dee but afterwards we were sure that we’d be working together again.

Below was taken from Dee’s website here, but do please read on…


Whilst we all began with our discovery and understanding of the text we have also worked from a musical score and added visual interpretation in animation. Colerdige’s text was a rich source full of colour and sounds. We have also drawn on complimentary texts by T. S. Elliot, Pablo Neruda and others who took their inspiration from the sea.”

Rime of the Ancient Mariner posterOn the 28th February and 1st March 2009, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s epic sea voyage, was retold through image and sound. Fifty musicians and artists transformed The Queen’s Hall and took the audience on a long and unforgettable voyage.

The performance was a collaboration between Music in the Community and Sound Design at The University of Edinburgh, and Animation at Edinburgh College of Art, starring John Bett as The Mariner.

The adaptation of Colerdige’s work took participants and audience on a transformative journey, crossing both physical boundaries, across oceans, and metaphysical boundaries into an otherworldliness. The music celebrated the richness of both Western and non-Westerns cultures.







Excerpt from The Rime
by Samuel Taylor Coleridge:

About, about, in reel and rout
The death-fires danced at night;
The water, like a witch’s oils,
Burnt green, and blue, and white.

And some in dreams assured were
On the Spirit that plagued us so;
Nine fathom deep he had followed us
From the land of mist and snow.

And every tongue, through utter drought,
Was withered at the root;
We could not speak, no more than if
We had been choked with soot.

An! well-a-day! what evil looks
Had I from old and young!
Instead of the cross, the Albatross
About my neck was hung.