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  • Serena Huang

Music for Earth Day

Updated: Jul 13, 2021

This year is the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, a global holiday celebrated to encourage appreciation for the environment and raise awareness for environmentalist issues. Each year on April 22nd, it is customary for communities to get together to take environmental action--schoolchildren learn about concepts such as recycling and clean energy, and people all over the world gather in their neighborhoods to plant trees or pickup trash. However, it happens that this year’s Earth Day takes place in the midst of a global pandemic, restricting our traditional means of celebration.


In honor of Earth Day, I wanted to share some environmentalist music that I've had the pleasure of performing recently. I am also including a sustainable practices guide that addresses simple lifestyle changes and activities we can adopt specifically for our time in quarantine. I hope you find the musical content genuinely enjoyable, the program notes thought-provoking, and the overall program action-inspiring. Thank you for celebrating Earth Day with me!



PROGRAM


Reuten: "Trio" for the Environment

Crumb: "Idyll for the Misbegotten"


"Treeo" is a piece for flute, and two oboes dedicated to the environment. Composed by my good friend Sebastian Reuten, this piece takes our current situation and technological tools into account. One of the oboes is digitally enhanced to play an octave lower than its range, and the parts were edited together social-distancing style. I met Ben and Seb at Orford Music Academy in Quebec about 2 years ago, and we spent 2 short days stargazing and playing pool in the isolated campus before I departed. It has been a long-distance friendship through and through, so it's only fitting that our individual parts were recorded in Philadelphia, Calgary, and Zurich. At times it seems that we are worlds apart, but today we come together musically in appreciation of the fact that we occupy the same beautiful world.


George Crumb's "Idyll for the Misbegotten" is a piece for 1 flutist and 3 percussionists, which I performed with the Temple University Percussion Ensemble last fall. An "Idyll" is a brief work conveying rustic/pastoral scenes, and the title implies that we, humans, are the misbegotten because we have disconnected from nature. Crumb's work quotes Debussy's "Syrinx," a standard work for solo flute about the mythological god Pan's pursuit of a nymph, who is later transformed into reeds that he makes into a flute. Incorporating this story and various extended techniques that imitate nature sounds, Crumb reconnects us with the natural origins of the flute. In viewing the metal flute with all its complex mechanisms as the set of strung together reeds it once was, we may begin to consider just how tied to nature we actually are. Read more about this piece.


If you're interested in my sustainability journey, follow me @sustainable_vibes on instagram

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