How does a composer with a social consciousness seek to change the world, and why? Brian Field, a New York City and Juilliard-trained composer and pianist is seeking to do just that. With his solo piano work “Three Passions for our Tortured Planet,” Field is engaging with pianists from around the world to bring climate change awareness to audiences through recital performances and social sharing.
“With the increasing build-up of greenhouse gases across the planet, we are threatened with a climate crisis whose long-term impact is greater than world wars, political unrest or the coronavirus pandemic – it is an urgent time for how we exist on this planet,” said Field.
“Sadly, the importance and focus on this problem is cyclical and falls out of favor in most mainstream news media, capturing the public consciousness only when there are critical moments in time—a ravaging wildfire here, a drought there—and then a day later media attention drifts elsewhere.”
To address these points, Field’s idea was to create a musical project with a continuous, ongoing global cadence of awareness to keep this issue top of mind, spurring subsequent action.
The work is built in three movements which are elemental in nature. The first movement, “…fire…”, is a reflection on the forest fires raging across California and the American West on a recurring, and increasingly alarming basis. The work starts with a “spark,” that flickers and quickly spreads, growing more complicated. The fire begins to rage loudly, and across register, building to a climax which eventually becomes more controlled, as it burns itself out and dies.
The second movement, “…glaciers…”, is a distant, stately movement that depicts the enormous ices on earth’s poles. These slow, ponderous moments are sporadically interrupted by rapidly falling, thundering episodes, depicting the shearing of the glacial ice with ever-warming temperatures.
Concluding the set is the third movement, entitled “…winds…”. This virtuosic finale begins with running winds that become increasingly intense and hurricane/typhoon-like in their destructiveness before dissipating into a barely-noticeable breeze.
The project began in 2020 as part of a collaboration between Field and fellow Juilliard pianist and Sony artist Kay Kyung Eun Kim, finally launching at the beginning of 2022. To date, there are dozens of pianists, performances and recordings via social media that have been created around the world in support of this mission.
Said Field, “It is my hope that this work will play a role in continuing to bring further awareness and dialog around climate change, and our need to act quickly – to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, embrace sustainability in its many forms, including the reduction of our personal carbon footprint.”
Pianists who are interested in participating in this ecological musical movement may download the score and demo from the project website at http://www.passionsforourtourturedplanet.org.