Activities Music Outdoors Schools

Open air climbing concert in Waltham Forest during October Half Term

Waltham Forest London Borough of Culture 2019 will showcase 'Giant' a climbing concert by arts and gardens sung from the canopies of trees in Epping Forest.
picture by Robert Piwko /

Developed by Arts and Gardens, climbing concerts aim to connect children with parks and forest environments in a creative way. The theatrical concert will feature guest soloists, supported by a chorus from the London Forest Choir and Tottenham Community Choir. Thirty-five children from Waltham Forest schools will accompany the choirs, including students from St Mary’s Catholic Primary School, St Mary’s C of E Primary School, Selwyn Primary School and Longshaw Primary Academy School.

GIANT will feature a new tree song ‘Epping’ written by Robert Macfarlane with music by Oliver Weeks, within an hour-long programme of tree-inspired music and poetry that includes a reimagining of Oscar Wilde’s The Selfish Giant, the classic short story about a giant banning children from playing in his garden, and works by Epping Forest poet John Clare, Benjamin Zephaniah, Grace Nichols and Handel.

picture by Robert Piwko /

Robert Macfarlane, writer of Underland (2019) and The Lost Words (2017), will premiere his new tree song ‘Epping’ with music by British composer, Oliver Weeks, whose works include Cat Sticks (2019) and Rising Silence (2019).

“Children singing from the trees alongside the birds, a forest canopy filled with music, the audience watching from the woodland floor:  this has been a very special project to be involved with, and I’ve loved both the vision of the idea of a ‘climbing concert’ and the collaboration with the other dramatists, performers and musicians involved.  I can’t wait to see the event take final flight in Epping Forest early this autumn.”

Says Robert Macfarlane

“The idea of a ‘climbing concert’ is about children reclaiming a foothold between branches and a sense of big possibilities from being outdoors and up high; broadcasting their experience to the forest through music.  It is a total joy watching children scale a forty-foot tree for their first time.  It’s also about introducing the name of the tree, learning to trust it, having an exchange with it and, best of all, singing from it.”

Ruth Oakley, Conceptualiser of GIANT and Climbing Concerts, said

“Throughout this year we’ve been exploring how arts and culture can have the power to help us form new and more powerful relationships with the world around us. GIANT provides an incredible opportunity for the children and young people of Waltham Forest to connect with the natural landscape that is on their doorstep, celebrating the forest that runs through our Borough. This autumn, when the ancient woodland is at its most magical, Epping Forest will be alive with the words of Robert Macfarlane set to new music by Oliver Weeks and it is going to be beautiful.”

Sam Hunt, Creative Director, Waltham Forest London Borough of Culture 2019, said

GIANT will be composed by Oliver Weeks, directed by David Antrobus, designed by Samantha Dowson, with music direction by Tom Appleton and movement direction by Beatrice Perini

Sohini Alam and Elenor Bowers-Jolley will feature as guest sopranos, with music performed by Anisa ArslanagicBen Heartland and Oliver Weeks.

Arts and Gardens will also offer singing and climbing workshops to the general public in September.  Ticket holders can attend a one-hour session where music leaders will teach a group song, and learn to climb with expert instructors from The Great Big Tree Climbing Company, before combining the two to sing from the treetops

GIANT is part of a collection of children’s activities in the autumn as part of Waltham Forest London Borough of Culture. For programme updates visit:

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