A Passion for the Planet is a new, hour-long oratorio on the subject of climate change by composer Geoffrey Hudson. Blending scientific prose, poetry, and sacred texts from many faiths, the libretto traces an arc from beauty and gratitude into darkness and out again into hope.
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A Passion for the Planet was premiered to a sold out 600-person house at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts on June 15, 2019 by the Illuminati Vocal Arts Ensemble, Tony Thornton, director, and Hampshire Young People’s Chorus, KC Conlan, director. Tony Thornton conducted, the soloists were Dashon Burton bass-baritone and Alisa Pearson, soprano.
“I was amazed by the fierce and gentle passion delivered by this piece… it’s so rare that I hear a piece that speaks to me so deeply emotionally and intellectually… The piece needs to get out and be experienced (“heard” is not enough).”
“So moving and alive. I wept. Sorrowed. Delighted. Gave thanks. Wonderful in every way.”
“Such depth and richness—everyone I’ve spoken with was blown away.”
“an extraordinary happening – I’ve not seen the likes of this event in all my years doing music.”
“Incredible. May it spread and spark many others.”
“What an amazing evening! Deeply moving — in so many ways… not least because it helped make the emotional and intellectual connection, time after time.”
“…last night’s performance was one of the most moving concert experiences of my life. When it came time for the audience to join in, I found it hard to sing, I was so overwhelmed—and looking around I realized that many audience members were in the same boat.”
“I do not think I have ever been more deeply moved by anything than I was at the premiere.”
“What a powerful and beautiful evening of music! It was magic, beauty, urgency and hope. It was music, protest, compassion and love.”
A Passion for the Planet is scored for a chamber ensemble of 12 players (flute, oboe, clarinet, 2 horns, bass trombone, 2 violins, viola, cello, bass, and percussion). A second version scored for full orchestra (2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 4 horns, 2 trumpets, 3 trombones, tuba, percussion, harp, and strings) is underway.
Why an oratorio about the climate crisis? A few words from the composer:
“Faced with a planetary crisis, we’re failing to respond. If science can’t get the message across, perhaps music can.
In 2017, I read an article that said that even if we understand climate change on an intellectual level, we’re not going to truly engage with it until we feel it on an emotional level. And that made a lightbulb go on for me: music excels at building emotional connections. Perhaps music can help dissolve the paralysis many people feel when they confront this topic.
And so, I set out to write an oratorio about climate change. A Passion for the Planet begins by celebrating the natural wonders of our planet. In the middle movements, we journey into the dark realities of climate change, including a musical depiction of the infamous “hockey stick” graphs. The eighth movement (“The Question”) is a turning point. From there, the music gradually turns towards hope, inspired by the words of David Orr, “Hope is a verb with its sleeves rolled up.” In the end, we all join together to sing a simple chorale tune.
Singing and listening to music won’t make the climate crisis go away. But perhaps, by forming an emotional connection with the topic, it can help us confront the stark realities. And when we see those realities—and truly take them in—maybe then, together, nourished by hope, we can work together to find a way forward.” –GSH
If you’re interested in learning more about A Passion for the Planet, or are curious about performing it with your own group, please contact us at email@example.com.
We are actively recruiting choral and orchestral groups interested in performing A Passion for the Planet. We would be happy to share scores and recordings for perusal purposes. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Video by Josh Brainin.
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