Planted Symphony… what’s next?

Back in 2017 Drake Music had the opportunity to explore a new idea and try out a new way of presenting music outdoors.

The idea was to create a participatory music performance. Disabled musicians and artists would use technology to allow an audience to get involved themselves. It was a way to break down the barriers between performer, audience and technology.

And so Planted Symphony was born.

As we would be working outdoors in the gardens of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park as part of Liberty Festival 2017, we always knew our natural creative partner would be Arts and Gardens. Happily, they were up for the challenge.

We started with a simple question:

What if a garden could make music?

A woman smiles broadly as she hugs a tree and it makes a sound.
Image: Robert Piwko


We undertook a period of development and presented an R&D performance as part of Liberty Festival 2017. Together we created a playful, music-led performance, where the audience became players in an orchestra as they journeyed through different sonic areas in the garden.


The audience really loved and engaged with the interactive approach and really enjoyed smelling a flower and hearing music, hugging a tree and hearing it sing and playing a park bench like a xylophone. When we saw the delight it brought, we knew then this was only the first step on the journey of this performance.

Fats forward 2 years and many conversations and funding applications later we are now in a position to start commission the full tour-able version of the show.

We don’t have all the funds in place yet to make it a reality (but hopefully very soon), but we do have many committed partners and presenters on board and are in a position to commission the creative team to start the process.

Devising together

This process began 2 weeks ago when we brought together key figures in the creative team to spend a day exploring what our new and improved Planted Symphony could be.

Musicians in the workroom using laptops and working hard


This was the first time the team had worked together and included:

  • Lucy Hale (Composer)
  • Dave Young (Librettist)
  • Michael Szpakowski (Musical Director)
  • Tim Yates (DMLab Lead – R&D)
  • Me – Daryl Beeton (Artistic Programme Lead)

We were also joined by Miryam Soloman (DM Programme co-ordinator) as guest vocalist for the day.

All about play

Our aim for the day was to explore ways of collaborating, how we communicate and to play!

We were led by Michael, who got Lucy and Dave to work straight away, setting out creative tasks composing and writing in the moment – without filters – around our loose themes of gardens and landscape.

Notes on a table with sketches and images of nature

The joy of collaborating with different creatives is how they individually interpret the theme. It’s always something that you can’t predict and is exciting.

What came out of this 6 hours of play was:

  • a strong sense of a musical dramatic narrative that took our audience on a journey both physically around a garden, but also emotionally through the music.
  • Questions and creative responses around environmental impact, our impact within the natural world both positive and negative.

Over the course of the day the team composed, wrote and explored an audience and musical journey as a test bed of how we might work together moving forward.

Here is a short piece of music that became our outcome for the day. (featuring the beautiful vocals of Miryam Solomon)

There will be plenty more creative play days as we develop the piece further and we’ll be blogging about it as we go along.

Funded by PRS Foundation.