We have created a multi-media symphonic work that uses music, images, and poetry to bring emotion and urgency to the subject of climate change. Art - especially music - reaches people in ways that science and facts alone do not. The world premiere of Terra Nostra created a powerful emotional connection with its audience and generated tremendous interest for further developments, interactivity, and world-wide dissemination. Our goal is to produce a video that incorporates stunning visuals depicting climate change with an original piece of music, and make this available to science teachers to help engage kids in the science of climate change from a nontraditional angle. If you get angry when you hear of people trying to hijack science education about climate change, or you've ever had a piece of music move you to tears, or you are excited about adding Arts to STEM education, this project is worth learning about and supporting.
We know we have a big total goal. Donations of all sizes help. Thank you for adding your vote of confidence to this work. And multiple thanks for sharing it with other people who share your passions.
Note: All the music on this site is from the world premiere recording of Terra Nostra as performed by the Lake Union Civic Orchestra in Seattle. The next recording will be by Seattle Music.
1. What Terra Nostra is. You can watch the trailer and listen to excerpts.
2. Our plan and schedule. We want to make a professional recording in January and a new film version in February of 2019.
3. The budget and how it will be spent. The cost of a symphony orchestra recording and film editing is $55,000. (Your donation can be tax deductible because we are part of a 501(c)3 organization.)
4. What we've already done and what we plan to do next. We've taken the first film version (Terra Nostra 1.0) to people and school children locally and had very powerful initial reactions. Our immediate goal is to further develop Terra Nostra into an upgraded version that will unleash its full impact and be ready for worldwide dissemination. Terra Nostra 2.0 will provide a compelling platform for the creation of interdisciplinary curricula for schools.
5. How Terra Nostra got started. This is what happens when a scientist-musician gets an idea and takes it to the right person.
6. Why this is so important to us. Climate change is a planetary emergency. We need every possible approach to change people's hearts, minds, and behaviors. This is our way of doing that.
There are more details below. We would love to have your support, and please share this Kickstarter campaign with others. Thank you!
1. What Terra Nostra is
Terra Nostra (“Our Earth”) is an innovative 30-minute multimedia symphonic creation about climate change composed by Christophe Chagnard. It was commissioned by Susan and Jeff Lubetkin in 2013 and premiered in June 2015 to critical acclaim. Terra Nostra is designed to engage, educate, inspire, and empower people towards policy change to protect our earth. Its evocative combination of orchestral music, poetry, and photography is intended to invite broad discourse and inspire concrete actions in audiences in ways science alone may not.
"Love Terra Nostra! What a bold, ambitious foray into the heart of this complex issue." Ashley Ahearn, host of the Terrestrial podcast.
Watch the trailer and listen to excerpts
It's easier to show Terra Nostra than to tell you about it. All the music in the trailer and excerpts was recorded at the world premiere, played by the Lake Union Civic Orchestra in Seattle.
Terra Nostra Trailer (4 minutes)
Each part of Terra Nostra relates to a specific theme. Here are five examples:
Water and Ocean (1'38")
Industrialization and Population Growth (2'11")
Drought and Fire (1'21")
Disappearing Polar Ice (2'41")
Seeking Solutions (3'09")
"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, founder of Seattle Symphony Ten Grands
2. Our plan and schedule
Terra Nostra 1.0 is a compelling proof-of-concept. Extensive revisions to the music score and images will take Terra Nostra 2.0 to new heights and ready for prime time.
- A new and improved score of Terra Nostra is nearly ready to be recorded
- The community orchestra that played the premiere is good but pros are much better. A top notch professional recording will unleash the full emotional power of this unique experimental creation.
- The resulting definitive recording will be the enduring foundation of limitless visual and poetic customizations by people all over the world.
- With a new studio recording, you will no longer hear audience coughing and other fidgety noises!
- The rapidly evolving and dramatic climate-related events warrant the inclusion of newly curated, high quality photographs relevant to the latest impacts of climate change.
Revised score and parts complete
Like 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 minutiae 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 and forest fires around the world.
Produce sheet music for each musician to play from (yes, that’s a big job!)
Set up scheduling with a recording orchestra for after the holiday season. (We need to wait until the musicians have finished the gauntlet of Nutcracker and Messiah performances in November and December.)
Recording costs cover
- Renting a studio space with fabulous acoustics
- Paying 70 professional musicians for their time for two sessions
- Paying sound engineers
- Paying for editing of recording
After we record, we will send out the parts used in the recording sessions to the supporters who sponsored us at the various levels. In January we will send the pdf of the score to supporters (with their names listed in it). We will also be contacting photograph sponsors to make their selections.
New film version: Terra Nostra 2.0
The images presented in conjunction with the music will also be updated. While many of the images are from the Creative Commons or are otherwise public domain, we will also purchase some images where we really want to ensure the greatest quality and emotional resonance. With these 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. All supporters will get sneak peeks at the film version as it evolves.
"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, Senior Director of Development, Harvey Mudd College
3. The budget and how it will be spent
We would like to raise $55,000 for this project. Yes, that sounds huge, but here’s where the number comes from and how much progress we already have:
Audio recording costs:
- Renting the studio space with fabulous acoustics, including staffing, moving in a piano and getting it tuned, and moving all the percussion in and out of the studio ($5,000)
- Paying ~70 professional musicians for their time ($34,000)
- Paying sound engineers ($3,500)
Visual production costs:
- Purchase high definition images ($2,000)
- Edit images and incorporate with music ($6,000)
Educational outreach costs:
- Finalize Terra Nostra in a teacher-friendly media format ($3,000)
- Develop classroom materials to accompany Terra Nostra 2.0 ($1,500)
Project total: $55,000
Other costs associated with this project come from doing this Kickstarter campaign:
Our pledge gifts are specifically designed to have a minimal carbon footprint.
- Planting trees and buying carbon offsets ($500?)
- Parts and scores (just postage) ($100)
- Kickstarter fees and payment processing ~10% (~$5,000)
- Terra Nostra is a program of Sustainable Seattle (a 501(c)3 organization) and has an overhead cost of 10% for this project (~$5,000)
We have an anonymous donor who will cover the costs of the pledge gifts, Kickstarter and credit card fees, and Sustainable Seattle administration costs (up to $12,000), so the money raised through this campaign will finance the launch of Terra Nostra 2.0. The costs for the pledge gifts and fees are not shown in the grand total we want to raise. (For more about Sustainable Seattle, see the bottom of this page.)
If we receive more funds than we need for the expansion to Terra Nostra 2.0 (Wow! Cool! Thank you!), we will use those proceeds to get going on the next phases of our project:
- Film the professional recording of Terra Nostra 2.0 for a "making of" video.
- Curriculum development for late grade school through high school. (For more information, see the FAQs.)
- Pilot projects within schools where students and classrooms can explore Terra Nostra 2.0.
- Software development so that users can create their own versions of Terra Nostra 3.x by choosing their own images, writing their own poetry, and telling their own stories.
- Create and maintain an image bank that holds graphics shared with us by Terra Nostra users.
- Update the website to have far more depth and integrate with the curriculum.
4. What we've already done and what we plan to do next
We already have the world premiere recording and proof-of-concept film versions of Terra Nostra. We have shared these in schools, churches, and at screenings in our homes. We've heard and seen how people of all ages, scientific literacy, and political stances respond to the piece. Listening to that feedback has shown us how to make it even more powerful and compelling.
With the professional version of Terra Nostra, we can engage, educate, inspire, and empower.
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.
"Terra Nostra is amazing! What you are trying to do with it hits all the right chords on so many fronts, notably that the integration of artistic expression to capture people’s hearts amplifies climate communications based on science alone." Susan Carlson, board chair of E3 Washington
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 faith communities, 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!”
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. We are working to fit Terra Nostra into existing curricula meeting Next Generation Science Standards and Common Core requirements, as age-specific STEAM (Science-Technology-Engineering-ARTS-Math) education. For more information about our educational plans, please see the FAQs.
"I just had a chance to watch Terra Nostra. What a fantastic project! I love this idea of merging the abstraction of data with emotionally charged, aesthetic abstraction of the arts. I teach a module in one of my classes on data visualization; this takes it to a whole new level! The musical score is 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 Macalaster College
We hope to spark other artistic explorations of this subject in addition to the realm of orchestral music. We are not limited to the current suite of images. We encourage further collaborations between the arts, science, and education communities.
"Just watched Terra Nostra. Wow! The imagery, music, and message are super powerful. Congratulations!" Nelda Swiggett, musician and composer
Those who experience Terra Nostra will be empowered to explore further with others. Our website contains some practical suggestions to get people started, and we encourage dialog to add more ideas at scales from personal commitments and actions to widespread policy changes.
"I watched Terra Nostra, and wow! That was spectacular. It was gorgeously done. And I loved the urgency of the second half." Ramez Naam, author of The Infinite Resource
5. How Terra Nostra got started
I describe myself as a multi-striped nerd: I’m a classical musician (cello since 5th grade) and an environmental statistician (particularly about Arctic organisms and issues). In the summer of 2013, I approached Christophe with the idea for a symphony about climate change and commissioned the music because I am passionate about science and about the power of music to communicate complex issues with profound emotion. 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 incredibly grateful to him for taking this on so wholeheartedly.
Following 9/11, I decided that my music would only be about ideas and causes I deeply care about. It was with great delight that I agreed to Susan and Jeff Lubetkin’s commission to write about a subject very dear to me and my family: Climate change and its devastating effects on our earth. I have been fortunate to compose a lot of music that greatly matters to me in its engagement and none has felt more relevant than Terra Nostra. I can look at my three children in the eyes and let them know that I am doing all I can to pass on a healthy earth in the way I know best: In music.
6. Why this is so important to us
We want to help people answer three questions about climate change for themselves: What does climate change really mean? Why should I care now? and What can I do? The impact of human activity on climate can seem very abstract to most individuals not directly affected by its consequences. Traditional scientific discourse has not been an effective communication tool for too many people. Very few issues touch nearly every life on this planet, human and otherwise, and will require a global effort to address. Climate change is one of those issues.
We took Terra Nostra to schools and saw the power of symphonic music in opening eyes and unleashing emotions in students. We have witnessed firsthand that Terra Nostra can change the hearts and minds of climate change deniers. There is something universal about the sound of a symphony orchestra that has the capacity to transcend cultural, ethnic, and social boundaries. The marriage of powerful symphonic music, vivid images, and potent poetry is a perfect gateway to awareness, empathy, and action. Terra Nostra has the potential to be used in schools from primary to college education as its format and message can be perceived from so many levels. It can be experienced in any country and performed either live or as a film. Personal images of how climate change affects lives in specific ways can be shared and inserted into the film to form a collection of unique perspectives from around the globe. That is the power of Terra Nostra.
"I truly love this project – I love the idea that we need to engage audiences in all ways possible around climate issues; I love the ability to help young musicians connect symphonic works to direct action; I love the ability to engage spoken word and photography on a localized basis; I love building collaborative infrastructure among climate engagement efforts. And, honestly, I love the artistry of the piece. It is a deeply moving work that deserves a wide audience." Michael Bracy, Policy in Focus
More about our fiscal sponsor Sustainable Seattle:
Sustainable Seattle was founded in 1991 by a dedicated group of citizens concerned for our community’s long-term well-being.
Sustainable Seattle is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization, federal ID # 31-1580932; all donations are tax-deductible.
Sustainable Seattle is focused on long-term sustainability, equity and resilience in the Puget Sound Region. We value collaboration, stewardship, and social justice.
Risks and challenges
We have a bid from a professional, recording orchestra. That group commonly records the music soundtracks for film, video games, etc. They know what they are doing, and the bid we have covers our project, soup to nuts. The only issue we anticipate is setting a hard date. The remaining components of our project are based on the completed recording, so if that date slips, everything else will be delayed. We will work to make sure we have as many pieces in place ahead of time (I.e. curation of images and video to use in the film) as we can.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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