The Music of Elizabeth Alexander

Tree Song

A simple and wise reflection on the generosity and interdependence of trees

Music: Elizabeth Alexander

Words: George Ella Lyon

A deceptively simple but exquisitely wise song about giving, receiving and interdependence. At the center of it all are the cello and piano, two of the most graceful instruments ever crafted of wood.

In the choral version of Tree Song a whimsical list of trees forms a vocal counterpoint to George Ella Lyons’ poem, creating a sense of playfulness and delight.

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Tree Song

Roots, trunk,
branches, leaves.
As a tree gives
so it receives:
food from
the earth,
rain and sun
from the sky.
Its roots
reach deep
and its crown
rises high.
in spring,
fruit in
summer and fall:
home for many,
shelter for all.

Peach, plum, pear, prune, pine,
Poplar, persimmon,
Alder, ebony,
Elder, abba,
Champaka, cashew,
Cottonwood, yew,
Acacia, bamboo,
Maclura, mahogany, mangrove,
Cedar, cinnamon, willow, cocobolo,
Kahikatea, Cacao, coffee, cashew,
Camilla, cherry, catalpa,
Tupelo, tulip,
Olive and chinaberry,
Chokecherry, mulberry, loblolly bay,
Aamla, sal,
Linden, laurel, lilac, larch,
Juniper, joshua, jellyfish, bo,
Bottletree, baobab, bunya-bunya.

George Ella Lyon
© 2009 by George Ella Lyon. Reprinted by permission of the poet



Premiere: Twin Cities Women‘s Choir / Mary Bussman (Minneapolis, MN)
Bella Voce Singers / Jessica Corbin (Brooklyn, NY)

Solo voice
Premiere: Ruth MacKenzie and Elizabeth Alexader. Harmony for Mayo (Rochester and Minneapolis, MN)