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Fantasia on Climate Change

for orchestra

Year:  2016   ·  Duration:  10m 20s
Instrumentation:  2222; 3221; timp., 3 perc.; hp; strings | (Perc: triangle, crash cymbals, snare drum, susp. cymbal, mark tree, wood block, 4 concert toms, glockenspiel, cabasa, tam-tam)

Year:  2016
Duration:  10m 20s
Instrumentation  2222; 3221; timp., 3 perc.;...

Films, Audio & Samples

Sample Score

Sample: Pages 1 - 8 of score

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Climate change is something that I feel very strongly about. With 2016 becoming the hottest year on record, glaciers melting around the world, storms becoming increasingly extreme, and vulnerable species such as polar bears and coral suffering from the accelerating effects, I believe that this is the current biggest threat to humanity, and something that must be urgently addressed to safeguard our future, and the future of all life on this fragile planet. I also believe that climate change has been caused by the hundreds of years of pollution and carbon dioxide we have pumped into the atmosphere following the Industrial Revolution - there is a wealth of evidence to support this, and a vast majority of credible and peer-reviewed scientific reports agree that we have been the cause of climate change - and therefore it is our responsibility as a species to reverse and repair the damage as much as possible. This composition reflects my concern about climate change, using themes and motifs to represent nature, human pollution, and the many climatic effects that will and are already resulting.

The piece opens with the introduction of the nature motif, swelling from a solo clarinet call to a full orchestral chorus, symbolising sunrise, the dawn chorus, and the beauty of nature before the arrival of humans. The motif then flits between the woodwinds, representing birdsong, then switches to a brass-supported variation representing a dramatic, beautiful natural landscape. As the nature theme fades out, in creeps the pollution motif - the ominous whine of stopped horns. Then the nature motif returns, but tainted to a minor key, already suffering from the effects of human pollution. The pollution motif becomes stronger, and gives way to a new consequence: melting ice. Slick sliding string glissandos represent the melting ice, and undulating cello and double bass arpeggios symbolise the resulting rising sea levels. A weakened nature motif descends from clarinet to bassoon to the bottom strings, then a sudden burst of high woodwinds and strings, like a bolt of lightning, sparks a forest fire: the crackling flames represented by rapid tremolos on the strings and a sustained snare roll, with syncopated wood block rhythms depicting the cracking and popping of branches. Again returns the nature theme, now as a stark lamenting string fugue, building up into a huge stormy movement that combines all five of the previous themes and motifs into a portent of what climate change could bring - massive rises in sea levels, loss of ice caps, more severe and extreme weather events, loss of crops - if we don't act now. The ending, a quiet reprise of the main nature motif, uses major suspended chords to represent that although we are starting to change our ways and reduce pollution, the future is still uncertain regarding climate change.

Commissioned note

NCEA Level 2 Music Composition Assessment 91271