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In celebration of the 50th anniversary of Earth Day on April 22, 2020, we’ve put together a list of music that celebrates and reflects upon nature and the environment.

Listen to the below works in our “Earth Day” YouTube playlist.

Oscar Bettison’s Remaking a Forest premiered at the Oregon Symphony in September 2019. The piece is loosely inspired by the idea of rewilding deforested lands, and also the fire at Notre Dame earlier this year.

John Adams describes the environmental themes in El Dorado as follows: “There is little doubt in my mind that El Dorado was the result of watching the slow but irreversible advance of human development and exploitation of the natural setting, particularly as I witness in rural California.”
> Listen here

Steven Mackey’s Urban Ocean, a concert opener for orchestra, was commissioned by Aquarium of the Pacific, and premiere by Long Beach Symphony in 2013.
> Listen here

Sean Shepherd meditates on nature in Tuolumne, inspired by Ansel Adam’s iconic images of Yosemite, and in Melt, a recent work premiered by the Grand Teton Music Festival about disappearing glaciers. Recordings: https://s.disco.ac/xhttvcuzwkke (Tuolumne) and https://s.disco.ac/xhttvcuzwkke (Melt)
> Listen to Tuolumne here
> Listen to Melt here

Detlev Glanert’s Weites Land is an homage to Brahms and the “wide land” of the Elbe region.
> Listen here

HK Gruber’s Northwind Pictures is a 25-minute orchestral suite from his raucous, witty opera Der Herr Nordwind.

Christopher Rouse’s Phaethon is based on the Greek myth of Phaeton, son of the sun god, Helios. Recording: https://s.disco.ac/puwfntyadlup
> Listen here

Anna Clyne’s orchestral suite Abstractions is inspired by five works of art, each with quasi-nature or environmental themes; she also composed a short orchestral work called Restless Oceans, which was premiered by Marin Alsop and the Taki Concordia Orchestra at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos.

Sebastian Currier has frequently written works that grapple with the environmental issues, either directly or indirectly. Take a look at Next Atlantis, for string orchestra; RE-FORMATION for orchestra & chorus, and his violin concerto for Baiba Skride, Aether.
> Listen to Next Atlantis

Eric Whitacre’s Deep Field has the option of being performed in conjunction with a screening of the film “Deep Field,” featuring footage from the Hubble Telescope.
> Watch the film with soundtrack here

Meredith Monk addresses has created a large body of work, much of which is concerned with topics of nature and the environment. Two recent projects in this vein include On Behalf of Nature and Cellular Songs.
Listen to On Behalf of Nature here
Listen to Cellular Songs here

Photo: Julieta Cervantes

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