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Viet Cuong, Re(new)al, a Concerto for Percussion Quartet, 2018.Three continuous movements: Hydro, Wind, and Solar.  "I have tremendous respect for renewable energy initiatives and the commitment to creating a new, better reality for us all.  Cooperation and synergy are core themes of the piece, as I believe we all have to work together to move forward." The percussionists' movements. are carefully choreographed--for instance during part of Wind they rotated around a single drum like wind turbine blades as they played.  (We enjoyed seeing this performed by Northwest Sinfonietta at the University of Puget Sound on 1/20/24, it was incredibly original and entertaining!)

Watch on YouTube

Mozetich, Marjan, Postcards from the Sky I: Unfolding Sky, 1996. This Italian/Canadian composer, like Aaron Copland, began in an avant-garde minimalist mode but later changed to a more romantic and accessible yet still sophisticated style.  Performed at the same concert as mentioned above, it was accompanied by poetry readings by Tacoma Tree Foundation's Lowell Wyse. This gorgeous piece, with its upward-rising, powerful and majestic tone, paired perfectly with a poem about a towering Sequoia in the city from TTF's workshop, "An Ode to Tacoma Trees."

Listen on You Tube 

Sister Hieu Duc, Brother Pham Huu, with rapper Born I, "Little Star," From Plum Village tour 2023, including a retreat for climate leaders and activists "to deal with both personal suffering and the collective suffering of climate destruction, biodiversity loss, and social injustice," based on Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh's teachings.

"You and I collective energy, that's how it's s'posed to be...Love is a paintbrush, life is the biggest art..."

Listen on YouTube

 (Thanks to Linda Cohan for this music suggestion)

Melissa Etheridge, "I Need to Wake Up," 2006.  Written for the documentary An Inconvenient Truth, it won the Academy Award for best song.  In her acceptance speech, she said "Mostly I have to thank Al Gore, for inspiring us, for inspiring me, showing that caring about the Earth is not Republican or Democrat; it's not red or blue, it's all green."  That year she went on tour across the U.S. and Canada in a biodiesel bus.  

"I need to change, I need to shake up, I need to speak out...I've been asleep and I need to wake up now"

Listen on YouTube

Malvina Reynolds, "What Have They Done with the Rain?" 1962. This early protest singer was active in marches against above-ground nuclear testing in the 1960's and wrote and performed this song there (later covered by many singers including The Searchers and Joan Baez, here).  "The lyrics talk of grass and a little boy in the rain, both of whom disappear after years of such rain. Although about radioactive fallout, later it was also identified with acid rain."

Listen on YouTube 

Bo Diddley, "Pollution," 1971. Funky beat and backup singers with a simple message from this early rock 'n roll legend -we gotta stop polluting, you and me!  (The video, however, focuses on the beauties of nature, not what humans are doing to it.)

Listen on YouTube 

Tom Lehrer, "Pollution," 1960. Written for the satirical TV show "That Was the Week That Was" during a time of growing awareness of the effects of industrial waste before the Clean Water Act was passed in 1972.  The satirical lyrics advise visitors that American cities are "very pretty, but don't drink the water and don't breathe the air!" You can also "see the halibuts and the sturgeons being wiped out by detergents!" 

Listen on YouTube

One Republic, "Truth to Power," 2017.  Written for the film, An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power. The lyrics for this call to action on climate change by Ryan Tedder and T Bone Burnett are from the perspective of Mother Earth, talking to those who would betray her.  "If you could see me the way I see you, If you could feel me the way I feel you, You'd be a believer."

Listen on YouTube

John Anderson, "Seminole Wind," 1992. A mega country hit of the 1990's by a native Floridian.  Who can resist that haunting yet catchy refrain?  A lament for the pristine days of the Everglades (Pahayokee, "Grassy Water," named the most critically endangered site in the US in 2017), evoking the the Seminole war leader Osceola's protest against all the human interference and thoughtless destruction. The original video (not here) included tribal members performing with him, with permission to film them and their lands.

Listen on YouTube

 

Progress came and took its toll

And in the name of flood control

They made their plans and they drained the land

Now the Glades are goin'dry.

And the last time I walked in the swamp

I stood up on a cypress stump

I listened close and I heard the ghost

Of Osceola cry

So blow, blow, Seminole wind

Blow like you're never gonna blow again

Alabama, "Pass it on Down," 1990.  Called "country music's unofficial Earth Day song", a plea to leave a clean and healthy world for future generations.

Listen on YouTube

Now we all oughta feel just a little bit guilty
When we look into the eyes of our kids
'Cause, brothers, it's a fact, if we take and don't put back
They'll have to pay for all we did

So let's leave some blue up above us
Let's leave some green on the ground
It's only ours to borrow, let's save some for tomorrow
Leave it and pass it on down...

 

 

 

David Crosby and Graham Nash, "To the Last Whale/Critical Mass/Wind on the Water," 1975. This elegiac lament on the senseless slaughter of whales was soon adopted by the "Save the Whales" movement. Nash wrote it after seeing a blue whale from Crosby's boat--"it is preposterous that we are killing these creatures...it's not that we don't know, it's just that we don't want to care." An intricate a cappella piece initiates the reverent mood, then lush harmonies (here aided by James Taylor) and strings carry the poignant lyrics. 

Listen on YouTube

 

Sting (Gordon Sumner) "One Fine Day," illustrated by James Larese.  Performed at the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize Concert. "Sting calls for climate sanity in the charming yet urgent animated video, with beautiful imagery undercut by a sense of peril."

Watch on YouTube

"Apologists say
The weather's just a cycle we can't change
Scientists say
We've pushed those cycles way beyond

Dear leaders, please do something quick
Time is up, the planet's sick
But hey, we'll all be grateful
One fine day?"

 

Sting with Rhythms del Mundo, "Fragile Planet," 2008. Produced by Artist Project Earth.  Sting has been extremely active in social and environmental causes for decades.  "on and on the rain will say how fragile we are, how fragile we are..."

Listen on YouTube

Kenny Loggins, "Conviction of the Heart," 1991.  Al Gore called this "the unofficial anthem of the environmental movement" when Loggins performed it on Earth Day in 1995 at the National Mall in Washington D.C. "It's been too many years of talking now...You say you're aware, believe and you care, but do you care enough to talk with conviction of the heart?" (True in 1991, still sadly true today)

Listen on YouTube

Paul Halley/Paul Winter, "Ocean Dream," 1987.  From the album Whales Alive, a celebration of whales featuring recordings of humpback songs in improvisational duets or trios with human musicians on sax and pipe organ.  Paul Winter was a pioneer in studying whale songs, and said this was "a milestone experience in my musical life."  

Listen on YouTube

 

Depeche Mode, "The Landscape is Changing," 1983.  There's an urgent message about “taking good care of the world” in this environmental song. "Its bleak lyrics –The landscape is crying/Thousands of acres of forest are dying – came at a time when the world was seeing a marked acceleration in deforestation."

Listen on YouTube

John Denver, "Earth Day Every Day (Celebrate)," 1990.  Love him or hate him, Denver was indisputably a powerful voice for environmental causes!  Along with his music, he launched a global tree-planting endeavor, "Plant-It 2020." The last song he wrote before his death in 1997 was about Yellowstone Park.

Listen on YouTube

 

Jackson Browne, "Before the Deluge," 1974. Prophetic lyrics, “Some of them were angry/At the way the earth was abused/By the men who learned how to forge her beauty into power/And they struggled to protect her from them/Only to be confused/By the magnitude of her fury in the final hour.” 

Enjoy on YouTube

Jack Johnson, "The 3 R's," 2006. For kids of all ages!  A jazzy upbeat way to teach "reduce, reuse, recycle, 

the core elements of the 3R Initiative promoting the effective use of resources and materials, a policy agreed on at the G8 Sea Island Summit in June 2004."

Enjoy on YouTube

Talking Heads, "Nothing but Flowers," 1988. "A witty, satirical Afropop dance song that images a future in which the world has been reclaimed by greenery. "And as things fell apart, nobody paid much attention." The embittered protagonist of the song finds himself longing for Pizza Hut restaurants, 7-Elevens, ...lawnmowers and microwaves."  

Enjoy on YouTube

 

Neil Young, "After the Gold Rush," 1970. Such a hauntingly beautiful song. The line “Look at Mother Nature on the run in the 1970s” has been updated by Young, who now sings “in the 21st Century” in concert. "He has remained a committed environmental activist and in 2018 he criticized President Trump for his denial of climate-change science."

Enjoy on YouTube

Ellie Goulding and Steven Price, "In This Together" from NETFLIX "Our Planet," 2019.

Enjoy on YouTube

Excerpt of lyrics:

How did we get here?
There was so much love in us
And all I have left is my faith
That I can change

I can't watch this burn
I can't watch this burn to the ground
You'd have thought we'd learned
You'd have thought we'd learned by now

David Solis, "Earth,"2015. Epic and emotional instrumental background music with stunning nature photographs.

Enjoy on YouTube

 

Paul Winter Consort, "Appalachian Morning" from Voices of a Planet, 1990. An Earth Day/spring anthem! Paul Winter "is a pioneer of world music and 'earth music', which interweaves the voices of the wild (whale songs, wolf howls) with instrumental voices from classical, jazz and world music." His beautiful and energizing music celebrates and advocates for the planet and all living things. 

Enjoy on YouTube

 

Matthew Burtner, "Syntax of Snow" from the Glacier Music album, 2019. Alaskan composer and environmental activist, using ecoacoustics to create "universal, ecology-centered forms." (His music is heard accompanying the performance of THAW in Sydney--see below.)

Watch on YouTube

Mr Bruce, "I Am Disaster" 2021. "I am disaster, I am doom, you didn’t expect to meet me so soon..." music video made supporting the Environmental Justice Foundation.

Watch on YouTube

 

Moya Brennan (of the Clannad Band, related to Enya), "Voices of the Land" 2009.

Watch on YouTube (Very poor visual but good sound)

Lyrics:  

As I journey through this blessed land
The signs and wonders are clear to me
Streams of silver, streams of gold
How much longer will they flow?
Will they flow?

Watch the seasons change with every year
With disappearing skies, the earth will fade
Trees so tall and proud, forest so grand
How much longer will they stand?
Will they stand?

Raindrops falling, everything breathes
Hear the voices of the land
Of the land

Marvin Gaye"Mercy Mercy Me (the Ecology)" 1971.  Remember this? "What about this overcrowded land how much more abuse from man can she stand." There are multiple videos on YouTube, find your favorite.

Watch on YouTube

 

Donald Glover,"Feels like Summer” music video by Childish Gambino (Donald Glover) “might be one of the farthest-reaching pieces of climate art ever”

Watch on YouTube

Joni Mitchell, “Big Yellow Taxi” 1970. One of the first, and still one of the best!  Lines like these say it all:

 “Don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone?

 They paved paradise and put up a parking lot”  

Watch on YouTube

 

Dance/Performance

Parody Project (Don Caron), "Confound the Science II," 2018.  A little humor, anyone?  Humor is one of humanity's best time-honored coping mechanisms when faced with frustrating and frightening situations.  Parody Project protests environmental degradation using the rock classic, "The Sound of Silence," with Art Garfunkel  and  Paul Simon wigs and brilliantly angry lyrics! 

Listen on YouTube

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Global Water Dances: Dance for Safe Water Everywhere, 2011-present, 180 locations and over 1,000 dancers worldwide. At 3pm local time on the same set day, community groups of dancers perform the same choreography to the same music.  "Global Water Dances orchestrates a biennial multinational, community-oriented event that takes place at different water-related sites around the world, to raise awareness about water issues and to celebrate water through movement. We connect and support a global community of choreographers and dancers to inspire action and international collaboration for water issues through the universal language of dance."  

Watch on YouTube

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Terje Isungset and Bill Covitz, When Ice Sings, Ice Music Festival Norway, and other performances, 2012-present. With musical instruments made of ice or partly of ice, they perform in special "igloo" concert halls around the world.  The sound is amazingly beautiful, crisp and pure.  “If you take artificially frozen ice out of the freezer, acoustically it has no sound properties. It’s as flat as concrete.  Natural ice has a hugely dynamic acoustic composition. You can tune it to a D flat, and it sounds correct. The musicians are always shocked at how accurate the sound is."  "For Isungset, it’s not just about the music though. He’s also making an environmental statement. The event itself metaphorically mimics global warming as it melts away every spring after the audiences have gone.  In partnership with the Bergen-based Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research, the Ice Music Festival Norway presents discussions and art installations illuminating the effects of climate change on snow and ice."

Ice Quartet, Watch on YouTube.

"When Ice Sings" with dancer Embla Skogedal Bergerud.Watch on YouTube

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Alicia Escott and Heidi Quante, The Bureau of Linguistical Reality, started 2015, ongoing. The artists set up a "Mobile Field Office" at the Paris COP for people to talk about their feelings about climate and to help each one create a newly-invented term to describe their own personal experience of climate distress.  That custom-made word "won’t end a drought or put out wildfires, but it might, eventually, motivate you to act in some way." 

"Favorites are shadowtime (acute consciousness of the possibility that the near future will be drastically different than the present), blissonance (when an otherwise blissful experience in nature is disrupted by the feeling that your presence is harming that very place), and ennuipocalypse (a doomsday that occurs slowly, instead of all at once).  Anyone can submit words via the Bureau’s website, but they say the real power of the project comes from the in-person interaction, the conversation and the space that helps people understand that their feelings are valid."  The Bureau goes "into public spaces with communities that haven't been given an opportunity to share their grief. We’re just here to listen.”  So far, the response has been "off the charts."

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Lelavision (Leah Mann and Ela Lamblin, based on Vashon Island), Pandemonium, performance on their musical ship at the 2023 Tacoma Ocean Fest.  "A ship of fools? Or a journey into the future? Lelavision creates captivating circuses from musical sculptures, sailing their Pandemonium over an ocean of climate crisis to planetary healing."  Plastic bottles, styrofoam, and scrap metal are incorporated into the kinetic sculpture/trash trawler, as well as lots of noise and energy!  (video below)

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Diana Movius and MOVEius Contemporary Ballet, Glacier: a Climate Change Ballet, 2015.  Movius is both a professional ballet dancer and policy expert who has written papers about climate change and deforestation and put in work at the World Bank and the Center for Clean Air Policy. For her, the two disciplines complement one another. “Dance is a great medium to personify love and despair--in Glacier: A Climate Change Ballet, the dancers convey emotion through their movements, particularly in the ‘calving’ and ‘melting’ sections where they crash to the floor and ultimately bid adieu to the audience, and you can’t help but feel the emotion inherent in the movement." 

Watch on Vimeo

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Corey Baker, First Dance on Antarctica, 2018, with dancer Madeleine Graham and music by London Grammar. This young New Zealand choreographer aimed to celebrate the marvel that is Antarctica as well as to warn of its fragility.  His project was supported by the scientific community there, who "were very on board and glad we were there to help tell this story in a different way."  Captions at the end of the video read "While you have been watching, 860,000 tonnes of Antarctic ice have melted..." and "Let's not ignore the signs any longer."

Watch on YouTube

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"Dance for the Climate", Greenpeace International, 10,000 people on a beach in Copenhagen,2009. Took place during the UNCCC Copenhagen Summit. I can't find much information about this (help if you can!), but it's fun and energizing! I'm surprised and disappointed that there aren't many more large visible public events like it.

Watch on YouTube

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Ananya Chatterjea, Ananya Dance Theatre, Ashesh Barsha:Unending Monsoon, 2009. This feminist contemporary dance group is based in Minneapolis.  This work is part of a trilogy focusing on environmental justice in "a world out of balance," which includes Pipaashaa: Extreme Thirst of 2007 (toxic contamination) and Daak: Lost Homes 2008 (land rights violations). Hindustani music by Aneesh Pradhan and Shubha Mudgal. 

Watch performance

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Lynn Neuman, Artichoke Dance Company, Liberating Earth, performed at the S.Vermont Arts Center (along with academy students) 2021.  Artichoke Dance Company,national leader in eco-arts performance and climate action based in Brooklynmakes all of its costumes from repurposed plastic bags and engages in multiple community actions and performances to raise awareness of plastic pollution and environmental issues in general.

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Tacoma City Ballet, Whalesong, performed at Tacoma Ocean Fest in 2019 and again as the festival grand finale at 4:30 pm June 12, 2022.  "It’s back – Tacoma City Ballet’s beloved “Whalesong” ballet, choregraphed by Erin Ceragioli to the iconic “Song of the Humpback Whale” with 30 dancers and a 60-foot sea of silk."

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Dancing Earth, Seeds Regeneration and Between Underground and Skyworld, 2019.

Dancing Earth is an indigenous contemporary dance group led by Rulan Tangen. "They collaborate with indigenous artists and musicians around the world, focusing on decolonizing theater at every level" with special attention to input from local tribal communities. Their work expresses deep grief at ecological losses combined with offerings of culturally-inspired ways of healing. 

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Legs on the Wall, THAW, performed in Sydney Australia, 2022. Suspended 65.6 feet above Sydney Harbor, a 5,952-lb iceberg slowly melted as a performer suspended by a harness danced across it, as part of the 2022 Sydney Festival.  Music by Matthew Burtner (see above). Thanks to Nancy Atwood for contributing this!

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Davalois Fearon, Consider Water, 2015, Bronx River Parka performance to grapple with the issue of water shortage.  "Her family in the U.S. had already spent money bussing clean water to relatives in Jamaica when a conversation with the U.S. ambassador to the U. N. prompted Davalois Fearon to think about the big picture of water resources. As part of her work Consider Water, two dancers randomly distribute cups to audience members and a third pours water into some of the cups. The symbolism allows other audience members to glimpse what it feels like to be denied a resource, overlooked and ignored."

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OXFAM Hot Air Band at COP26, 2021.  Big-head caricatures of world leaders performing in a traditional Scottish bagpipe band. “They are just blowing hot air, and we have had enough of hot air and empty promises.  What we are asking for is for concrete action.”  

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Extinction Rebellion’s Red Rebel Brigade, CODE RED, at Glasgow Central Station, Nov 2021. "The iconic Red Rebel Brigade joined forces with Scotland’s Blue Rebels in holding world leaders to account during the COP26 Climate Summit. They delivered a haunting performance and a reading, followed by a silent procession around the station and its concourse, ending in the unfurling of a banner signifying the end of their journey and the hope that COP26 will drive political climate action." “It is now CODE RED for humanity, for climate, and for nature. There is not a single moment more to waste, and policymakers who don’t come to the table ready to make sacrifices really will have blood on their hands.”

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Nelson, choreographer, Joan Jeanrenaud, composer, Dead Reckoning, 2014, performed by the ODC Dance Company in San Francisco.  The title refers to navigating in poor visibility, increasing the stress and likelihood of error-- is this our situation re: the climate crisis? This KQED newsroom special is great for some background on this beautiful and expressive piece.  Click on image to watch the whole performance.

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Jody Sperling, Bringing the Arctic Home 2015, dancing on the ice.  She accompanied a scientific mission to the Arctic as the guest of oceanographer Robert Pickart.  She won a Creative Climate Award and continues to engage in climate literacy outreach.

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Music, etc
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