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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.

Our immediate goal is to make a professional recording of an updated version of the piece. That will be the fastest way to share this with the world and serve as the basis to achieve our other goals, which include creating interdisciplinary curricula for schools and this website, enabling smaller orchestras to perform this for their audiences, and much more. We would appreciate your support!

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

Engage

Photographed by Armin Kübelbeck - licensed under CC 3.0

Symphonic music transcends language and touches people universally; Terra Nostra can be an emotional first revelation of the global phenomenon of climate change.

Terra Nostra is dynamic — it can be performed with its standard set of imagery or with images chosen for a specific audience. Climate change is ongoing. The images of its effects, both for individual events and communities, are continuing to be recorded around the world. Most importantly, so are our responses.

Customized versions of Terra Nostra can show both the global and local effects of climate change and possible solutions. Every community can be challenged to answer the questions "What does climate change mean for us?" and "What can we do?" We also welcome other collaborative ideas for presenting Terra Nostra, including those that involve visual arts and dance.

We invite you to engage with us and our creation in any of these ways:

  1. Financial support, which will go toward funding a professional recording and curriculum development, both for in schools and educational materials accessible online.
  2. Screening Terra Nostra in a non-profit venue. Contact us if you are in the Puget Sound area and we'll see if one of us can be there to answer questions.
  3. Contributing photographs or videos to our image library for use in creating new versions of Terra Nostra.
  4. Performing Terra Nostra. The score and parts are available for a small fee.
  5. Adding your technical expertise. Educators, scientists, engineers, city planners, musicians, artists, and others — this means you. If you are interested in helping, please tell us your idea!
  6. Most importantly, sharing the message of Terra Nostra and acting on it. (See the Empower section for more.)
Thank you both for an amazing evening! I absolutely love Terra Nostra…the music, the message, the vision and how this can help the youth of today engage in a better tomorrow! All fabulous!
Kathy DeWalt, Executive Director and Founding Co-Creator of Seattle Symphony's Ten Grands Seattle

Educate

Photo by Dominik Scythe on Unsplash

One aim of Terra Nostra is to help people who don't have a scientific background begin to understand the global and local causes and consequences of climate change, putting a contemporary and human face on the issue. The musical and visual themes are designed to encourage further discovery.

The world premiere of Terra Nostra was recorded and turned into a film version of the piece, giving us a format to conduct screenings at schools, community centers, and churches, in addition to sharing it with individuals. The common responses were “I had no idea!”, “Wow! Powerful!”, and “You have to get this into classrooms!”

We are working to fit Terra Nostra into existing curricula meeting Next Generation Science Standards and Common Core requirements, as age-specific STEAM education.

We are also designing the next version of the website, which will have more information about the images used in the film version, including the specific setting of each image and how it fits into the context of climate change. A single fire (or other disaster) may be seen as an anecdote, so it is important to integrate those instances into a larger picture. Bringing Terra Nostra to learning venues provides students a conversation to share what they have learned with their classmates, parents, and families.

This work requires additional resources and expertise to continue. Learn more about how to Engage with us.

I just had a chance to watch Terra Nostra and read the project description. What a fantastic project! I love this idea of merging the abstraction of data with emotionally charged, aesthetic abstraction of the arts. The musical score was quite moving—I was awestruck at the thick layers of instrumentation and how it told a story. Reminded me of Debussy and Stravinsky. Christophe Chagnard is amazing. The poems interspersed throughout the work provided a compelling intellectual break- a different layer of abstraction.
Kari Shepherdson-Scott, Professor of Art at Macalester College

Inspire

Photographed by Yoshiki Nakamura © Seattle Digital Photography

Terra Nostra shows the beauty of the natural world and the threats faced by it. No previous experience with or knowledge of classical music is needed to be touched by Terra Nostra. It makes climate change urgent and visceral through music and photographs, stimulates people to challenge themselves to learn more about the issues, and motivates them to see what practical steps they can take in their own lives and communities.

We hope to spark other artistic explorations of this subject. There is no need to stay in the realm of orchestral music or limit ourselves to the current suite of images. We encourage further collaborations between the arts, science, and education communities. Those who experience Terra Nostra will be empowered to explore further with others.

Major Themes of Terra Nostra

I sincerely thank you for inviting me to participate in the premiere of your work. As the week progressed, the work continued to solidify so by concert night its substance and genuineness really began to speak. The combination of music, images and poetry delivered a most, most impressive message. Your ability to find and combine talent from different sources is always a marvel. I was particularly struck by Emily Siff's poetry - very sobering important words. And such an amazing message it was… excellent music, images, words. Again, thank you.
Todd Larsen, contrabassist in the world premiere performance

Empower

We have a lot to learn from each other. Ideas for solutions should come from our affected communities, as well as from scientists, policy makers, and people in technology. There will be no one-size-fits-all fixes, but we can share strategies and encourage one another to improve the health of the planet for us and for future generations.

Follow the links below to learn about steps you can take today to combat climate change.

We appreciate your support in curating these links and in creating the next version of Terra Nostra, a professional recording, and associated curricula.

Actions

We can each take action to help with climate change. Which steps will have the most impact and which are most do-able will vary for each of us, depending on many factors. Here are some sites with a range of ideas and inspirations.

Just watched Terra Nostra. Wow! It's really great! The imagery, music, and message are super powerful. Congratulations!
Nelda Swiggett, musician and composer

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 Support 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 sound editing by Mike Brooks

Terra Nostra trailer narration by Lisa Bergman

Terra Nostra trailer 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 endeavour.

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