Los Angeles composer Adam Schoenberg was on his way to a meeting with the San Francisco Symphony to discuss a potential orchestral commission when he came across a magazine article about climate change, and immediately knew what his new musical work would be about.
“Despite the article’s main focus—the decade from 1979-1989 when we almost solved the global warming crisis—it still paints a grim future,” Schoenberg says of “Losing Earth: The Decade We Almost Stopped Climate Change,” published in The New York Times Magazine in August 2018. “Being a father of two young boys, I couldn't help but wonder if my children would be able to survive the long term effects of global warming.”
The composer’s new concerto for solo percussion and orchestra, titled Losing Earth after the magazine article, employs the apocalyptic and ancient sounds of drums, vibraphones and other whackable and scrapable instruments to convey the instability of our megastorm-wildfire-and-flood-plagued planet, as well as a sense of urgency around human actions going forward.
“Since drums are the oldest instrument known to mankind besides the human voice, it felt natural to create a narrative that captured the state of our ever-changing planet using percussion,” Schoenberg says.