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Play Harder: Saving the Environment with Music? (Entry 6)

15 December 2015
Shawn Wyckoff, Maria Millar and Anna Millar at the People’s Climate March in New York City on September 21, 2014
Shawn Wyckoff, Maria Millar and Anna Millar at the People’s Climate March in New York City on September 21, 2014 Photo: Shawn Wyckoff

Staying passionate about climate change is an uphill battle. Show me an image of starving children, animal abuse or yet another shooting and my heart jolts: “This must be stopped,” my brain (or voice) yells as I see red. But climate change? It’s the reverse – a brain-to-heart process of reminding myself, “Yes, this is what I should get fired up about, this is the biggest threat facing mankind!” Images of rainforests burning, tar sands churning and oceans swirling with micro-to-macro bits of plastic help; knowing that it’s animals and the poor who end up suffering the most helps even more. But how to make saving the environment a visceral experience for all?

I must digress: I do not believe my art changes the world. It’s a blessing and a curse – my realism protects me from illusions of grandeur, but prevents me from feeling like my art is contribution enough. I LOVE moving people with my music, and when I perform or compose, I devote mind, body and soul to creating a magical experience. I feel, though, that when someone is moved by my music, the gift is to me. They showed up, they bore witness; I spoke, they listened and chose to enjoy. How lucky am I?

Back to the subject at hand: climate change. As I plough through the plethora of e-mails from non-profits valiantly working to save the environment, I get overwhelmed. So many words, so many sobering statistics. Maybe this is where wordless music can help. By composing a symphony that encapsulates the sounds of the four seasons, the sounds of four vibrant cultures at risk, perhaps I can evoke emotion where words fail? And if I can tie that emotion into activities that connect people with nature – a hike, clean-up or get-together in their community – maybe I can ignite a passion that will burn steady and bright. This is how I came up with Four Seasons Rising. It’s a tall order of metaphysical proportions, but the synergy of music and action… that’s a challenge I like! Now if only I could compose at a speed faster than glacial…

Thanks for reading,

Maria

 The People’s Climate March in New York City on September 21, 2014
The People’s Climate March in New York City on September 21, 2014 Photo: Shawn Wyckoff
Maria Millar
Maria Millar

Violinist & Composer 

Play Harder is a regular series by Maria Kaneko Millar chronicling the creation of Four Seasons Rising, a project funded by Canada Council for the Arts that involves going to four corners of Canada and the US – Nova Scotia, Florida, Nunavut and California – to research, shoot footage and compose a symphonic work for Sonic Escape with orchestra. Maria is the violinist & composer of Sonic Escape, a duo of Juilliard graduates whose blend of hyper-instrumentals, stories, dance moves and original works is "wonderfully imaginative... with a wide-ranging, anything-goes sense of fun.” (The Washington Post)  @sonicescape

Publisher : Canada Council for the Arts

Tagged As Artist Stories