Riccardo Pes’s ’Lament for the Tree’ is a sorrowful response to the act of vandalism that saw the tree felled on 28 September 2023


Photo: Riccardo Pes

Cellist-composer Riccardo Pes performing Lament for the Tree at Sycamore Gap

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Italian composer-cellist Riccardo Pes has shared his musical act of sorrow following the recent felling of the Sycamore Gap Tree in Northumberland.

Located near Hadrian’s Wall, the Sycamore Gap Tree was one of the most photographed trees in the UK, winning the 2016 England Tree of the Year Award. It was also known as the ’Robin Hood Tree’, after it featured in a prominent scene in the 1991 film Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.

The tree was felled in the early hours of 28 September 2023, in an act of vandalism that prompted public outrage.

Braving the inclement weather and rail strikes, plus a challenging hike to the site of the tree with a cello, Pes performed his solo composition, expressing his grief musically.

Pes was born in Spilimbergo, Italy and studied at the ‘Benedetto Marcello’ Music Conservatory in Venice and attended the High Specialisation Music Courses held by Giovanni Sollima at Accademia Nazionale Santa Cecilia in Rome. Subsequently, he graduated from the Royal College of Music, where he was an RCM Scholar.

Reporting on the performance on The Cello Museum website, curator Dr. Brenda Neece shared ideas for the future of the wood yielded by the felled tree: ’We hope a luthier will be allowed to make cellos from the fallen tree and allow its voice to live on, even after this tragic loss. We suggest holding a festival every year, playing these instruments to raise awareness and funds to promote environmental issues, particularly planting trees.’

Neece commented that she would love to see a cello orchestra perform in this capacity, but suggested a string quartet or cello quintet would be more manageable. ’In this way, the tree would live on through the sounds of the instruments,’ she concluded.

Watch Riccardo Pes’s performance of Lament for the Tree below:

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