Edinburgh Local

Classic poem retold in contemporary performance

More than 60 pupils from Leith Walk Primary School will take part in a breathtaking musical performance of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner in Old College from 21-23 March.

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

This classic poem by Samuel Taylor Coleridge will be retold for our times, capturing elements of modern sea voyages undertaken by those seeking a safe haven and a better life in other countries.

With music by Dee Isaacs, words by Gerda Stevenson and directed by John Bett, this immersive and multi-sensory performance will also feature dance, costume, film, and stunning sets and lighting.  over one hundred performers, including students, will participate in The audience will promenade between the historic Playfair Library and the outside quad where the boat is placed.  The albatross will, of course, make an appearance.  

Also working with the Leith Walk school pupils, and taking part in the performance, are two members of the Gambian Alla Leake percussion group which Dee and her students have visited for the past 20 years.


It’s lovely to work with the children and help them uncover talents and gifts they didn’t know they had.  Their confidence grows as does our pleasure from watching them perform.

Dee Isaacs, Music in the Community programme, Reid School of Music

Postcards from our World

University staff and students have worked with pupils from Leith Walk Primary School for several years as part of a Music in the Community outreach project which has involved them in immersive performances at Edinburgh’s Botanic Garden and at the University’s Old College.  

Dee particularly enjoys working with this school because she is stimulated by its diverse population of pupils, with over 20 languages spoken.  Over the past few years, productions have included Postcards from our World, which was a response to the refugee crisis and focused on the treacherous journeys families take across the seas.  Eighty-five children participated, singing songs from South Africa, Syria and the Balkans, as well as the Arabic song Tala al Badru Alayna https://www.eca.ed.ac.uk/news/window-postcards-our-world


Music in the Community course

Based within the University’s Reid School of Music, the Music in the Community course is unique in music education.  It was founded over 20 years ago by renowned Professor Nigel Osborne, who worked with children in Bosnia, using music to help them recover from trauma.  

This work has been carried on by Dee Isaacs, who won the Principal’s Medal for her contribution to the community.  She was also nominated for a British Composer Award for Suppose Life, a musical promenade through the glasshouses of Edinburgh’s Royal Botanic Garden.

Working with communities abroad

Twice a year, Dee takes her Music in the Community students to Africa.  She runs The Gambia Project in collaboration with Alla Leake Kunda Drum School – enabling students to have the opportunity to study West African drumming, song and dance, and to work in local schools to deliver immersive arts.

Most recently, she and her students are collaborating with the University of Athens supporting children and families in Syrian refugee camps in Attica, where musical interventions help distract them from their difficult daily lives.

Further information

  • Performances 21,22 and 23 March at 7pm.
  • Tickets (£10 and £7) available in advance from www.brownpapertickets.com 
  • The performance lasts for approx. 90 minutes.
  • Please dress warmly.

Relevant links

Reid School of Music https://www.eca.ed.ac.uk/reid-school-music