Terra Nostra - Home

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Photographed by Yoshiki Nakamura © Seattle Digital Photography

Terra Nostra is a 30-minute multimedia symphony about climate change designed to Engage, Educate, Inspire, and Empower people to move for personal and policy change to protect our earth. It is an evocative combination of orchestral music, poetry, and photography, intended to invite broad discourse and inspire concrete initiatives in audiences in ways science alone may not. It premiered in June 2015 to critical acclaim.

On October 31, 2018, we completed a successful Kickstarter campaign, which had the goal of raising $55,000 to professionally record Terra Nostra 2.0, an updated version of the piece. Terra Nostra 2.0 will serve as the basis for creating interdisciplinary curricula for schools and broaden our web presence and reach globally.

Although we reached our Kickstarter goal, your support is critical as we proceed to the third phase of our vision.

Love Terra Nostra! What a bold, ambitious foray into the heart of this complex issue.
Ashley Ahearn, host of the podcast Terrestrial

News and Events

Photo by Radek Grzybowski on Unsplash

Support Terra Nostra

Photo by Neil Thomas on Unsplash

We would love to have your help in bringing out the best of Terra Nostra. All our donors — of any amount — will be named and thanked, unless they prefer to remain anonymous.

Terra Nostra is under the fiscal sponsorship of Sustainable Seattle, which is a 501(c)3 organization, making your contributions to us tax deductible to the extent permitted by law. The Donate button above links to a secure donation page specific to Terra Nostra. Your donation will appear on your credit card statement as going to Sustainable Seattle and you will receive a confirmation e-mail from them. And, because we can’t say it enough, thank you!

For in-kind donations or if you're looking for other ways to get involved, see the Engage section of this site.

Many thanks to our supporters:

Hamdi Abdulle

Kim Adams

Laura Baumwall

Terri Butler

Jo Nardolillo Chagnard

Sharon Chen

Suzanne de van der Schueren

Stephen DeWalt

Daniel Fievez

Alison Fujino

Kyle Funakoshi

Frederick Haman

Jane Harvey

David Kasperzyk

Richard Krochalis

Jeff Lubetkin

Frida Kumar

Betsy McFeely

Magali Messac

Geoff Prentiss

Cat Reny

Janna Rolland

Jessie Woolley-Wilson

other thanks

Website by Melinda Minch

Graphic design by Elyas Beria

Photography by Yoshiki Nakamura

Terra Nostra trailer concept and text by Mark Titus and video editing by Tracy Dethlefs

Terra Nostra preview sound editing by Mike Brooks, narration by Lisa Bergman, and video editing by Jason Vo

I’ve now watched Terra Nostra from beginning to finish for a total of six times. The word amazing would be an understatement.
Jessica Berger, Harvey Mudd College development office

Frequently Asked Questions

Photographed by Yoshiki Nakamura © Seattle Digital Photography

I’m a teacher/educator. How do I bring this into my classroom?

Susan LubetkinContact us to see about showing Terra Nostra in your classroom. What you do after that is up to you. We are working on materials for your use- see the Educate and Engage sections above- but we need additional support to make this happen. We would be excited to talk to you about any ideas you have!

I’m one person. How does what I do as an individual have any impact?

SusanFirst, it was as a lot of individuals that we created the state of the earth now. Do not discount what all those incremental changes can do when they are added up. Second, by acting on what you believe you remind yourself and everyone around you – coworkers, family, friends - what you value. Finally, taking control and making a commitment in your own life makes you a more powerful advocate in asking others, particularly those in positions to shape larger scale changes, to act. See the Empower section of this site for ideas!

What can I do to help our earth?

SusanThere is no quick or one-size-fits-all answer to this, and none of us is or will be perfect. However, we can each make changes and adjustments in our lives. The impact those changes will have will depend on where we live, our economic position, and our past and present choices. See the Empower section of this site for more ideas.

Have you done any research about the impact of Terra Nostra?

SusanAs part of a pilot study, we gave a pre- and post-viewing questionnaire about the hazards of climate change (using a Pew survey) to 31 college students. The students consisted of 15 men, aged 19-50 years, and 16 women, aged 20-41 years, representing a wide range of majors. The maximum concern level was a score of 12, and 12 students had that score when taking the pre-test. We saw a statistically significant increase in the perceived risk level for their lifetime after seeing Terra Nostra (one-sided Wilcoxon signed ranks test, p ~ 0.0264). We found individuals who saw Terra Nostra thought about climate change more personally. They asked better questions, were ready to learn more about the issues, and wanted to know what they could do to make a difference. They wanted to be involved in changing the trajectory we are currently on.

Who is involved in Terra Nostra?

We are a group of musicians, scientists, artists and activists. You can read our biographies here.

How did Terra Nostra get started?

SusanLike many of the musicians in LUCO, I have a scientific background. From 2011 to 2013, I had a post-doctoral position studying plankton and attended weekly seminars in biological oceanography. No matter what the research presented in those sessions was initially about, it nearly always ended with a discussion of what was happening due to climate change. While all those data, graphs, and statistics were compelling to me and to the other scientists in the room, I realized that the message was still too abstract, distant, and subtle to have any impact without being presented in a more immediate and personal context. Shortly after that, I saw the film Chasing Ice, which so compellingly showed what the recent loss of glaciers really looks like. Something clicked for me, and the idea for this piece was born.

In the summer of 2013, I sent an e-mail to Christophe with the subject line “totally nuts, probably impossible, poorly formed idea … and a dinner invitation.” I told him that I had an idea for a symphony about climate change. I even went so far as to suggest some themes for individual movements, which was a stretch since I don’t write music at all. Luckily for all of us, Christophe said yes to writing this piece, and Terra Nostra was started.

Climate change is an incredibly widespread, multifaceted, and challenging theme to base a musical composition on. Christophe has written a work that extends to a broad range of issues in the Anthropocene and has surpassed all my expectations in Terra Nostra. He dove in with unrelenting intellectual curiosity and artistic passion. I am profoundly grateful to him for taking this on so wholeheartedly.

Listen to an interview with Susan about the inspiration behind Terra Nostra.

What does Terra Nostra mean?

Christophe ChagnardIt is Latin for “Our Earth.” This title was chosen to express the nature of our paradox: It is indeed our earth in the sense of our home, our address in the cosmos, but in effect we don't own it, nature does, or did, until we began to challenge it and its perfect balance. If it is truly OUR earth in the most global sense, then we, as a species, must be far better stewards of it.

Listen to an interview with Christophe about the creation of Terra Nostra.

Can Terra Nostra be performed anywhere?

ChristopheYes! Anywhere there is an orchestra and venue large enough. We hope to also make a version for chamber orchestra as well as wind ensemble available, and we appreciate your support in this endeavor.

Is Terra Nostra suited to all audiences?

ChristopheThe music and poetry certainly are very accessible. Some images of intense pollution can be shocking to the youngest audience and viewer discretion, (or better yet, education) is advised.

What do you mean by “updated version”?

ChristopheLike any artistic creation, Terra Nostra keeps evolving. It is customary for composers to revise their scores after a first listen, particularly when dealing with a very large orchestra where detailed minutia are key. Most of the improvements have to do with orchestration and clarity of textures. The introduction and conclusion were also improved upon to convey a more emotional sense of urgency as demonstrated by the dramatic recent increase in major hurricanes in the Atlantic. The images presented in conjunction with the music will also be updated. With all those improvements, Terra Nostra will rise to new heights and take our message of environmental awareness and stewardship further still. We would love to have your support for this work.

Can I buy a CD or DVD or download a copy of Terra Nostra?

SusanNot yet! We’re working on it. If you’d like to help speed things along, please consider donating here.

How hard is it to play?

ChristopheTerra Nostra was performed well by a community orchestra of amateur musicians. It is technically challenging but manageable with enough rehearsal time and dedication.

How can I obtain the sheet music?

ChristopheA set of parts, score, poem, and image sequence are available at a very reasonable rental cost (enough to cover printing and shipping expenses). Parts will be available to schools at reduced rates. Please contact us for more information.

Are the images and poem imperative to Terra Nostra's performance and impact?

ChristopheThey certainly add a lot but Terra Nostra was first and foremost conceived as a stand-alone creation that can hold its own emotional weight without either visuals or poetry.

Can other images be substituted?

ChristopheAbsolutely! Our goal to to let people design their own image sequence to reflect their individual perception of climate change as experienced in distinct and contrasting communities.

Can I contribute an image?

SusanThank you! We would love for you to share work that is available for our use. We are collecting images for the updated version of Terra Nostra and for us and others to use in creating versions that highlight specific regions or topics. (We cannot guarantee that any image will get chosen by us or by others.) Please write to us, and include the following things in your message:

We will not use or share any images without confirming that they have been released to us or are for public use. We will have some (relatively minor) legal documentation to exchange.

What if I want to know more about an image or topic?

SusanThe next version of the website will have a listing of images we used. Each will have the details about where and when (and by whom when we can) each photograph was taken. For example, we'll link from an image of a forest fire in California to a page describing the image and trends in forest fires on the West Coast or the United States or North America over the past decades, drawing from sources like National Geographic, Smithsonian, and Scientific American, as well as more technical analyses from the peer-reviewed literature written by and for scientists. The photographs invite viewers to learn more and then become more engaged in these issues.

Terra Nostra

Photographed by Yoshiki Nakamura © Seattle Digital Photography