'The Four Seasons' by Vivaldi is one of the world's most beloved pieces of classical music. Written three centuries ago, it inventively depicts spring, summer, autumn and winter through sound. This "visceral translation of nature into music continues to capture the imagination of audiences today," says Melbourne composer Hugh Crosthwaite. "In that way, it’s the perfect canvas for us to communicate an urgent message about the environment."
That, in effect is what agencies AKQA and Jung von Matt have done, in partnership with Crosthwaite, The Sydney Symphony Orchestra, and Monash University's Climate Change Communication Research Hub. Using climate data, these collaborators have recomposed the classic score to portray a future where the world has failed to act decisively on global warming.
With the aim to inspire action on climate change ahead of the United Nations Climate Change conference in November 2021, 'The [Uncertain] Four Seasons' for the year 2050 was composed through computer modelling. The creators intend to warn of future dangers, offer hope and inspire action.
The idea is not entirely fresh, but taken from the original work of the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra's 2019 performance in Hamburg, which fused Vivaldi's music with historical weather data (see video below).
But this new variation has built on the German work through a musical design system which generates local variations of Vivaldi's original 1725 composition. Then, an algorithm alters the musical score to account for predicted changes in rainfall, biodiversity and extreme weather events as laid out in climate reports. The final work with help from Crosthwaite, was performed live by the Sydney Symphony Orchestra at the 2021 Sydney Festival on January 12 and 13 for paying attendees who could buy tickets to watch the livestreamed performance.
Local variations have been generated for every major orchestra in the world (available on this website), and musicians are currently being invited to perform their local interpretations.
"In 2019, we first looked to the past and used historical climate data to create 'The For Seasons: a present-day version of Vivaldi's masterpiece', said Joachim Kortlepel, executive creative director, JVM. "Now, with the '[Uncertain] Four Seasons', we're bringing it into the future, making
climate change audible.”
"We’ve all watched the documentaries and seen the graphs," added Tim Devine, executive creative director of AKQA Australia and New Zealand. "Our hope is that by reflecting the risks of climate change in music we can help people experience what a radically new aesthetic and lived experience might feel like."
Tim Devine (ECD)
Adam Grant (CD)
Gerard Mason (Creative Technologist)
Dr. Jaehyun Shin, (ML and Data Specialist)
Melanie Huang (Lead Designer)
Hugh Crosthwaite (Composer)
Jung von Matt
Joachim Kortlepel (ECD)
Inka Weigl (Account Supervisor)
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