ClimateMusic Project performs, Bishop Marc sits on panel

On Friday, June 3, at Grace Cathedral, San Francisco, the ClimateMusic Project performed Erik Ian Walker’s Climate — an original composition informed, limited, and bounded by climate data for 500 years: 1800 to the present and then two projections through the year 2300. One projection uses contemporary patterns, and one projection is based on a change in human behaviors.

The Rt. Rev. Marc Handley Andrus, bishop of California, welcomed concert-goers by informing them that The Episcopal Church has a “deep and abiding commitment to climate change” and that “the arts are not separate from advocacy; rather, the two bond together to bring to reality the hopes and dreams of humanity. Additional welcomes were offered by Susan Stephenson, executive director of Interfaith Power and Light, and Shawn Rosenmoss, senior environmental specialist, San Francisco Environment.

According to the program for the evening, “The ClimateMusic Project is a collaboration among leading scientists, musicians, and artists, who are using music to reflect the changes over time in our climate consistent with the most reliable historical climate data and models for the future. This was done by identifying four key indicators of climate change and assigning each of these a musical analog.”

The data-to-composition analogs were carbon dioxide concentration being reflected in the tempo; near earth atmospheric temperature being represented in the pitch; earth energy balance (the balance between incoming energy from the sun and outgoing heat from the earth) being heard audibly in distortion; and ocean pH being represented by compositional form. Walker, the piece’s composer, was insistent in his introduction that the piece is “not just a literal translation of data into music; that wouldn’t be art. It’s a collision from creative vision and data.”

The performance receive raucous applause and a standing ovation after its conclusion.

The evening was not over after the 25-minute piece of music, however. Following the concert, Francesca Vietor from the San Francisco Foundation moderated a panel discussion among Bishop Marc; the composer; Dr. William Collins, one of the ClimateMusic Project’s science advisors; and Maxine Jimenez, a senior action fellow at the Alliance for Climate Education. Each of the panelists talked about their backgrounds, were invited to ask a question of one another, and then took questions from the audience.

Following the panel discussion those still remaining were invited to a reception in the Grace Cathedral dining room. A list of upcoming performances and more information about the ClimateMusic Project are available at http://www.theclimatemusicproject.org.