Trees & Tones - Wooden Instrument Traditions: African Blackwood

This event is no longer on sale.

Sunday October 28

4:00 PM  –  6:30 PM

African Blackwood (Dalbergia melanoxylon) is the tree from which flutes, oboes, clarinets, and bagpipes are made. Growing almost exclusively in Tanzania and Mozambique, it is used for sculpture, medicine and more.Come view the landmark documentary, Mpingo: The Tree that Makes Music, narrated by David Attenborough and released in 1992 that brought the role of trees in music making at the forefront of the discussion. After a screening of the 43 minute film, we will be joined by Brenda Schuman-Post who will bring us up to date where the film left off.


Virtuoso oboist Brenda Schuman-Post is the first musician in history to witness every detail from finding and harvesting an African Blackwood tree, to the making of a top of the line instrument.
 In 2008 she’d won a Global Connections grant “to create, via improvisation, a new piece of music that would bond the people in whose forests African Blackwood (grenadilla, mpingo, pau preto) grows, with the people who play musical instruments made from that tree”. She performed for audiences who had never before seen nor heard any Western keyed woodwind instrument.

Brenda will play the oboe, show slides and video, exhibit authentic Makonde sculptures, and engage you with a hands-on display of the wood. She’ll talk about the characteristics, uses, search for and harvesting of the tree, about the people and places where it grows, her experiences in East Africa, and about what's currently being done to lift destitute East Africans out of poverty by preserving, conserving, protecting, and replanting African Blackwood.

Brenda is the director of Sonic Forest, a diverse musical ensemble devoted to educational/entertaining programs that inform audiences about the relationships of music to nature.


All program fees include admission to the Garden, rain or shine (a $12 value per adult).

Please email to inquire if ASL Interpretation is available.

Cancellation Policy: Notification two weeks prior to program receives full refund; less than two weeks receives a one-time credit toward another Garden program to be used within 90 days; less than 48 hours from program start, no refunds or credit will be given for cancellations or absences.


In the event that the Garden has to cancel a program you will be offered a full refund or the option to transfer to another program.