350.org (ppm)


A WORK OF PERSONAL PROTEST FOR CHAMBER ENSEMBLE AND PROJECTIONCOP 15, 2009 - Graham Lea-Cox.  Commissioned by the Orquesta Nuevo Milenio da Monterrey on the occasion of the 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference, commonly known as the Copenhagen Summit..... 

Premiere: 29 November, 2009, Monterrey, Mexico

“Our generation's response to this challenge will be judged by history, for if we fail to meet it -- boldly, swiftly, and together --  we risk consigning future generations to an irreversible catastrophe.”   -President Barack Obama, September 22, 2009 

A note from the composer:

350 ppm (parts per million) is the level of CO2 in the atmosphere that leading climate scientists tell us is the safe upper limit if we wish to avoid catastrophic climate change on our planet. Our atmosphere at the moment reads 390 ppm.

On 24 October 2009, millions of ordinary people in 181 countries, including many thousands in Mexico and Latin America, came together to show support for a sustainable and safe future for our planet. At over 5200 events around the world, people gathered to call for action on our climate crisis, sending in over 22,000 photos by cell phone and the internet, the most widespread demonstration of concern for the environment in our planet's history.

On the same day I began to compose a work for this concert. It seemed obvious, even essential, to show my support for this global people's movement.The music of this work is based on bird songs from the Caprivi Strip in Southern Africa, which I wrote down one night in 2002 whilst in the beautiful bush in that area. It seemed appropriate to compose a work that tries to reflect our hopes and fears for our planet and future using the songs of nature itself.

To reflect the numbers 350, I have used 3 rondos (which literally means rounds, or music that returns several times) – the middle one of which is a backwards mirror image of the first and third (essentially a palindrome), separated by 5 contrasting sections. The 0 in the title is represented by 40 silent final bars, the gap between 390 ppm where the atmospheric CO2 level is now, and 350 where we need to return. Enveloping the silence is the sound of a Tibetan Singing (prayer) Bowl accompanying 40 images of ordinary people around the world, with their messages of support for 350.org, all taken on the 23rd October, 2009.

This work and its première performance is also dedicated to the players of the Orquesta Nuevo Milenio da Monterrey, to its audience and to our children, who will inherit this world in the condition we leave it.